Guide to the Catalogue

Welcome to Roy Lichtenstein: A Catalogue Raisonné, a digital publication by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation that is available to users at no charge. It was launched on the occasion of the artist's centennial in October 2023.   

The chapters in this guide outline the scope of our catalogue raisonné project, specify research methodology and resources used, and define the organizational principles that inform the catalogue entries.

The content on these pages was created from documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation's complete or current knowledge. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Inscriptions cited are signatures, dates, dedications, titles and erased markings written on an artwork by the artist's hand. Erased markings are usually dimensions the artist first considered for the related final work. Markings by studio staff or other cataloguers are transcribed only when relevant. 

All inscriptions are based on reports and/or photographs taken during artwork examinations by a catalogue raisonné researcher or a trusted source. Examination Notes indicate when there were issues with artwork access that either prevented recording of all inscriptions or made it impossible to verify the assumed absence of inscriptions. The comment most often found is "Verso inaccessible." 

Entries indicate if a work was signed/initialed, dated and/or inscribed, followed by the inscription's location(s) and a transcription. Transcriptions mirror the spelling, capitalization, punctuation and line breaks (indicated by a forward slash) as found on the artwork.

“Unknown if signed or dated” is given when a work could not be or was only partially examined (e,g., framed) and when there is no further information from other sources.

For works that could not be examined, significant sources of inscriptions are RL Studio Cards, RL Studio Photographs and auction records. Partial or unclear inscription information from other sources is given in quotation marks. All sources are referenced in Remarks. See also: 3. RESEARCH AND RESOURCES


Signatures/initials include any variation of the artist’s name written by the artist with the intent of indicating completion and authorship. In several early works, Lichtenstein used abstracted lettering and symbols as signatures, transcribed in the catalogue as “[stylized signature].” On some paintings, the artist added a copyright symbol before his signature; those inscriptions are described as “copyrighted,” then “signed.”

When a work is signed two times, the header contains the qualifier “[twice].”

Artworks with no signature or date by the artist are marked as “Neither signed nor dated.”

In some cases, the artist’s name is considered an inscription, not a signature (e.g., RLCR 1774).

Rare posthumous signatures by the artist’s widow, Dorothy Lichtenstein, are recorded and explained in Remarks.


Artwork dates usually accompany the artist’s signature.

Lichtenstein dated a group of prep-Pop paintings in code (e.g., RLCR 502). The encrypted dates are translated and explained in Remarks.

Sometimes, the artist seems to have misremembered the date of completion when signing a work in retrospect. These cases are assessed by the authors and addressed in Remarks.

Some works are dated by another hand. If there is no date by the artist on the work, those dates are published, followed by “[not by artist].”

Titles, Dedications, Dimensions and Other Marks   

Common markings by the artist recorded in this catalogue include titles and dedications. When the artist added marks to a work's verso, these are recorded. Artist's marks and dimensions are given below signature, date, titles and dedications, but precede any inscriptions that are not by the artist. 

Inscriptions Not by the Artist

Select markings not by the artist included in entries are mostly significant cataloguing numbers such as RL numbers, LC numbers or Bianchini numbers. They are included following any transcribed marks by the artist. Other marks, usually numbers without a specifier, are not included because they are considered temporary (e.g., loan numbers) or their meaning is unclear at this time.

It was not always clear whether arrows indicating an artwork's orientation were added by the artist or another hand. For publication, arrows are listed among markings not by the artist, e.g., "[up arrow indicating top of artwork]."

When it could not be confirmed whether an inscription is by the artist, the transcription is followed by the comment “[by artist?]."

Location of Inscriptions

Specific locations (e.g., upper left, bottom center) are given when known; less specific locations reflect the information in available documentation.

For two-dimensional works, the markings noted are on the recto unless it is indicated that they are on the verso. When markings are found on unusual surfaces, this is then explained. 

Locations of multiple inscriptions are given in order from recto to verso, top-to-bottom and left-to-right.

For multi-panel paintings, panels are identified as the viewer sees them when looking at the artwork ("left panel", "middle panel", etc.). Markings on versos are described as usual with the viewer looking at the verso and marks listed left-to-right and top-to-bottom. 

Inscriptions that are not on the artwork, but on a backing board, frame, label, etc., are not transcribed unless they convey significant information about the artwork.

Transcription Details

Some inscriptions are further described with their characteristics added in brackets after a transcription, e.g., vertical, upside-down, encircled, covered, or trimmed. Other comments may be more detailed when marks are erased, struck through, crossed out or overwritten. 

Illegible text is represented by stand-in comments or question marks. Partially illegible text is preceded by the abbreviation [est.].

When an inscription is likely misspelled, it is transcribed as found with the specifier [sic.].


Researchers were asked to transcribe and photograph all labels on an artwork, including on stretchers or backing boards. While this information informed the writing of entries, markings on labels are usually not published in this catalogue.


Lichtenstein hand-signed some of his early editioned works like enamels. Most other editioned works were fabricated by workshops who received a template from the artist studio modeling signature and inscriptions for final application. The fabricator added edition numbers and one or more chopmarks (workshop logo, initials, in-house numbers). Some works are marked with copyright notice. Posthumous casts of sculptures are marked with a copyright notice that names the copyright holder (usually the Estate of Roy Lichtenstein) and projected year of fabrication.

Inscriptions in entries of editioned works give a summary of all signatures, dates, edition numbers and other markings in the entire edition. They serve as an overall orientation when individual pieces in the edition are inconsistently marked.  

The transcriptions of markings on individual pieces are listed following their respective record number. Inscription locations may be given in brackets if inscriptions are applied via plaques or labels, not directly to the artwork. Inscriptions are not transcribed for large editions.

For works that were examined with limited access, examination comments are added in brackets. Examples are "[verso inaccessible]" or "[partially covered by strainer]."

For works that could not be examined, information from a published source is given in quotation marks with the source cited in parentheses.

For works that could not be examined and no inscription information is available, "[No information]" is added.

Method of signature application (e.g., cast, engraved, stamped) is not included in this catalogue.