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What Is An Artists Proof

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An artists proof was traditionally the first set of prints done from a stone or wood block of a painting.  Today, the term artists proof refers to a special reproduction set created from the plates of a limited edition run that are given to the creator of the piece to hold or sell later.  Specific rules apply to the signing and numbering of these prints. 

The tradition of creating an artists proof set originated with the need to attempt production with a block and then make adjustments.  The process of refining the painting pattern was necessary to perform before the open market copies were manufactured.  All of the pre-production pieces were given to the creator of the work of art for their personal collection to dispose of at their own discretion.  These pieces became very valuable as they demonstrated the process that the work went through as it evolved toward completion.  Their value was also based on the understanding that the pieces were once held by the original creator of the painting.  Since there existed only a small, limited quantity of these works, their rarity caused them to excel in price over the price of the perfected pieces that had been sold for that session.  With the modern technology today of lithographs and giclee, there isn't the same need to produce so many “practice” copies.  However, a select number of reproductions are still given to the painter when a limited edition printing is done.  These usually fetch a higher price on the market than the limited editions due to the fact that they were in the painter's possession and belong to a smaller subset of the line.

A properly marked artists proof set follows a body of standard rules for signing and numbering.  All of the markings for this part are done in pencil.  This serves to limit any potential damage that could be done to the piece while signing.  If the signature gets erased, the indentation from the pencil will still be visible on the paper.  On a limited edition piece, the number is located on the bottom left under the picture.  These numbers are shown as fractions.  The top one denotes the order in which the piece was produced, and the bottom one indicates the total number of pieces in the set.  The pieces given to the painting's creator, however, do not use this system.  Rather, a simple notation of A/P in this space is used.  Opposite this designation, the signature is located under the lower right section of the piece.  If the creator of the piece wishes, this is also where the date of creation is located.  Centered under the picture, the title is written with single quotation marks around it.

An artists proof set originally consisted of the trial copies created when producing multiple pieces of reproductions using plates.  Today the term refers to a special sub set of a limited edition that is created for the painter's private collection.  These rare pieces can be identified by their unique markings.  Modern sets hold special value simply because they were in the possession of the creator.  These can be identified by the special way they are signed and numbered.

Back to main topic: Prints & Reproductions
Fine Art Reproductions
Fine Art Prints
History of Art Prints
Art Reproductions: An overview
What are Limited Edition Prints
Where to Find Art Prints for Sale
How To Buy Art Prints
Fine Art Prints Make Great Gift Ideas
About Artwork Prints
Military Prints Are Works Of Art
Information On Reproductions
Modern Prints Of Art
Choosing An Artwork Reproduction
Using Artist Prints
How To Pick Out Art Reproductions
Reproduction Painting Can Be Affordable
What Does Signed And Numbered Mean On Art
The Process Of Original Prints
The Purpose Of Modern Reproductions
Thomas Kinkade Prints
Black and White Prints
Various Types of Reproductions
The History of Reproduction Artwork
The Reproduction of Art Masterpieces
How Prints Are Made

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