What Is Art Reproduction?

5 min readJan 8, 2020
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
Reproduction of Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

The term art reproductions is often thrown around by both professionals in the field and amateurs looking for a little extra decoration around the house. However, before making a commitment to a purchase, it’s important to step back and make sure all of the basic questions have been covered. For instance, what exactly is an art reproduction?

Is a Reproduction Plagiarism?

L’innocence (Innocence) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Reproduction of L’innocence (Innocence) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Absolutely not. In the artistic world, from painting to sculpting to writing, words like “plagiarism” carry a lot of weight. Anything that carries the label essentially has a mark of shame. To define it, plagiarism is the taking on another artist’s work and claiming it as one’s own.

Reproductions, however, do not use this concept either in name or for profit. A true reproduction is meant to show appreciation towards the artist. As such, the paintings aren’t typically altered at all and credit is fully attributed to the original artist.

Some reproductions even go a step further and consider an artist’s work in a different genre or with a different technique. For instance, what if Claude Monet’s Impressionist style was introduced to the realistic style of a Classical painting? These are often less popular than simply honoring the work of the original artist.

Where Do Reproductions Come From?

Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme
Reproduction of Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Surprisingly, reproductions of art weren’t originally concocted in a plan to make money through sales. Rather, the practice originated in the 16th century between artists and their apprentices. After all, in art, the best way to truly learn a technique is to practice it. On top of that, it’s often easy to judge a technique by seeing if a student can replicate its use. As such, master artists would task their pupils with reproducing some of the master’s work to see how well they replicated the skills they were learning.

There have been many artists over the years that have participated in this practice including masters like Pablo Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci.

Why Are Reproductions So Popular?

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci
Reproduction of The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

Reproductions have become a way for all economic classes to take the time to enjoy art as well as use it as decor. With the ability to reproduce paintings, people don’t have to worry about paying thousands of dollars or more to hang a painting in their home because they don’t have a need for the original.

In addition, reproductions often give people access to pieces of art that are static in their original creation. For instance, The Last Supper was painted on a wall, making it hard to transport and impossible to enjoy in private. Through reproductions, the painting was more widely known and consumed.

How Do Prints Differ from Reproductions?

Descent from the Cross by Rembrandt Van Rijn
Reproduction of Descent from the Cross by Rembrandt Van Rijn

Another main question that comes up frequently is how reproductions and prints differ from one another and how to decide between them. The main difference is in the origin of a piece of art.

A print is made solely for mass production and no technical “original” copy of the artwork exist. The cost for prints depends on how time consuming and difficult the print is to create and how well-known the print artist is.

Reproductions, on the other hand, are direct copies of another artist’s work. It doesn’t matter if they’re hand-painted recreations or a poster on your wall, any copy of another artist’s work is a reproduction. These are also often sold with an option to resize the piece to fit your needs.

How Is a Reproduction Different from a Draft?

The Lady of Shallot by John William Waterhouse
Reproduction of The Lady of Shallot by John William Waterhouse

The biggest rule of reproductions is that what you’re buying isn’t from the original artist. Instead, you’re purchasing a copy of an artwork that a third-party recreated for display. If the original artist were to paint another copy of one of their paintings, this wouldn’t be considered a reproduction. Instead, it would be closer to the concept of a draft.

Subjects of Reproductions

Creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti
Reproduction of Creation of Adam by Michelangelo Buonarroti

When many people think of reproductions, they think of timeless masterpieces that anyone could recognize. The works of artists like Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci are some of the first options that come to mind when shopping around for reproductions.

While it’s true that these are popular choices and, thus, often easier to find, they are far from the only options you have. Art lovers can find reproductions of almost any artist they love. Websites like 1st Art Gallery also allow you to look around for reproductions based on factors such as subjects, genres, and colors used. This will help anyone find something that fits their personal style and decor, no matter how unique it is.


Reproductions are an art form of their own right. More importantly, they give the chance for laymen to appreciate and utilize art in their everyday life. Each of these beautifully recreated masterpieces allows you to bring a little bit of art history into a home or personal office for added beauty and personality.




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