Home News An original bronze sculpture

An original bronze sculpture, what exactly does that mean?

When a sculptor makes a new piece, he first molds it, for example out of clay. Later, at the bronze caster, there could technically be made an unlimited amount of copies, this by using the lost wax technique. Yet only the eight first copies are seen as the original. Besides that there is the possibility of an additional four copies being cast, these are the épreuves artistes or artist proofs. They are the property of the artist, who decided what to do with them.

All the bronze sculptures receive a number. The ‘original’ eight bronzes are numbered in Arabic numerals (1 to 8) and the artist proofs are numbered in Roman numerals (EA I to IV). 

Yet in this 8+4 series not a single bronze is 100% identical. Bronze casting is an artisanal, manual process. All copies are also not cast all at once. The artist decides when they are cast. There might be a decade between the first and the last copy of the series being cast. The numbering also does not have to happen chronologically. For example, when a collector only wishes to buy copy 2/8, the artist will tell the bronze caster to first cast the 2/8.

An original bronze sculpture, what exactly does that mean?

To protect their work, French artists at the end of the 19th century made agreements with their casters to only make limited series. In 1966 the rule of eight reproductions and four artist proofs became law. Belgium and the Netherlands also base themselves on this French law. In reality the majority of works are cast in 8+4 editions. This is also the case with most artists we represent in the gallery. 

Technically an artist is free to decide how many copies are to be cast. They might choose a single copy (une pièce unique), or choose a series of fifty or a hundred copies, that they for example might use as a relationship gift, or as awards statues. Everything comes down to the artist. They get to make all the decisions.

Our advice!

Would you like to purchase a bronze sculpture? Francis Dedrie, owner of Early Birds Art Gallery: “Most important is that you purchase a sculpture that you like, that you think about and keeps you thinking and that makes you feel positive emotion. As a gallerist, besides giving you the aesthetic, I like to give you the context and the story of the artwork and the artist, so that you are able to form a complete picture of the bronze. When you buy a bronze in the gallery, the edition is clearly stated. So whether it’s an original or an artist proof, along with the edition number.