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What is an Artist’s Proof?

What does Artist’s Proof mean?

A certain number of a print edition is set aside for the artist over and above the limited edition size, for example if the edition size of a print is 50, numbers 1-50 will be sold and the artist will receive their own copies which will typically have separate numbering beginning with A.P. (Artist’s Proof). Artists taking private copies of the prints for themselves has occurred throughout the history of printmaking, often with the artist selling their own copies.

Prints might also be annotated with the initials E.A. which stands for Épreuve d’Artiste, Artist’s Proof in French.


Artist's Proof
Marc Chagall Artist’s Proof


Hors Commerce

H.C. stands for hors commerce, or ‘not to sell’. Similar to an artist’s proof, this proof was set aside from the editioned prints. Often the H.C. impressions were used as replacement or insurance copies for prints that were lost or damaged. Hors Commerce prints are identical to the editioned prints.


Printer’s Proof

Printer’s Proof prints are prints over and above the editioned prints that are given to the printer as thanks or in lieu of payment from the artist. Depending on the number of printers who worked on a piece as well as the arrangement between the artist and the printer, there may be multiple printer’s proofs of any given print. Printer’s Proof prints are annotated with P.P.


Bon à Tirer Prints

Bon à Tirer (B.A.T) or ‘ready to pull’ are prints annotated on the proof that was approved for final printing by the artist. The edition is then made in the image of the B.A.T. Only one of these such prints exists for each edition.


Trial Proof

A trial proof is any impression taken to test the development of the image, after which point the artist may decide to change things. There can be many trial proofs before the B.A.T. is created.


Trial Proof


The value of an Artist’s Proof?

Artist’s Proofs are generally valued higher than other prints in the edition, due to the rarity and small quantity of them even though many artist’s proofs are typically identical to the editioned prints.


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