What You Need to Know about Artist Paintings and Reproductions
What You Need to Know about Artist Paintings and Reproductions

You might have heard some things about art paintings and the reproduction of these paintings and have a few questions about what exactly it all means. We will attempt to look at this issue with a view to throwing more light on any areas that may have been unclear to you.

What is a Reproduction?

In the world of arts, a reproduction means the exact same thing as anywhere else. You can see a brief description here. It primarily deals with an artist painting an exact copy of an already existing artwork by another artist. For example, the paintings of the Mona Lisa above are a clear indication of what we are discussing. There is only one Mona Lisa (which is on display at the Musée du Louvre, Paris) but here we can see four on display. The truth is that none of the four might actually be the original.

These are reproductions of the original painting obviously done by some other artist(s) since the original painter – Leonardo da Vinci – has been dead for almost five centuries now. This appears to be the issue that many people have with reproductions; that is the fact that almost all major painting reproductions are done by artists other than the original painter.

We will briefly look at the issue of the legality of art reproductions and how (and if) any copyright laws are broken and rights infringed upon when this is done.

Is it Legal to Reproduce an Artwork?


To answer this question, we will need to look at some different angles of the issue so we can have a better understanding of it. Though copyright laws will differ from country to country, there is a general guide.

There are two classes of artwork and they are; those still under the copyright of the owner and those that are in public domain. Here’s a breakdown of it:

Any artwork that was produced before 1978 is under copyright protection for 98years while those produced after 1978 are protected for 70 years. To learn more about copyright issues, read this: https://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/public-domain/welcome/.

The first thing to understand is that any artwork can be reproduced as long as the artist reproducing it is not making profit from it. It does not matter if the work is copyright protected or not. A good example is an art student whose assignment is to copy a Mona Lisa. You will not be breaking any laws doing this.

When it comes to reproducing artworks for profit, the copyright issue becomes very critical. Paintings like the Mona Lisa that are almost 500 years old are fully in the public domain and can be reproduced for commercial purposes without any laws being broken.

The only law that can be broken is if it now begins to hinge on forgery. It can only become an issue of forgery if there is an attempt to pass off the reproduced copy as the original. Once it is sold as a reproduction of the original, you will be operating within the law.

Why are Reproductions Important?

So, why would anyone want to reproduce a famous artwork if not for the purpose of forgery? There are a number of reasons, some of which we will briefly look at.


This is one of the main reasons why art works are reproduced. We mentioned earlier that there is only one Mona Lisa and it is on display in Paris. For anyone to enjoy the pleasure of the beauty of this artwork, such a person has to travel to Musée du Louvre in Paris to view it.

With reproduction anyone who so desires can have the painting on their home or office walls. So, reproductions make famous artworks more available to a wider group of people.


Still using the Mona Lisa as an example, as at 2017, it was estimated to cost about US$810 million. Aside from the fact we looked at above, even if it was put on sale, the number of people who can afford to pay such an amount for it are less than 1% of the world’s population.

On the other hand, a reproduction can cost from $300 to $400. It could be more or less depending on where you are getting it from. So with reproduction, famous artworks are much more affordable. Don’t forget that a reproduction of a painting is not necessarily an inferior painting. It is simply not the original and the value attached to the original is not because of the paint on the canvass but because of the history behind it as well as the fact that it is just the one.


After spending US$810 million on a painting, you are sure to want to keep it very safe. Many art collectors and even galleries and museums sometimes put reproductions on display. These are usually top quality copies that only a few experts can tell apart from the original.

This is done for security purposes and sometimes to allow some maintenance work to be done on the original. Rather than leave that space empty, they put the copy there and the visitors are not any wiser.


The information above are some of the important facts you need to know about artist’s paintings and reproductions. You can learn more about reproductions of any famous paintings from reliable art sites like 1st-art.com.

Enjoy the pleasure of having those paintings you have only heard about hanging on your walls in your home. Yes, they will be very affordable reproductions, but with the right company, they will be top quality reproductions that will look exactly like the original.

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