Everything you ever wanted to know about fine art reproduction

Evertything you need to know about art reproduction

Welcome to our guide on fine art reproduction!

We get asked a lot of questions regarding fine art reproductions, which I hope I’ve covered.  If you have a question about our fine art replicas or just about art reproduction in general, please do get in touch.

What is fine art reproduction?
Why do art reproductions matter?
What is the history of fine art reproduction?
Things to know about Chinese art reproduction
Art Reproductions: They are not equal
Reproduction Oil Paintings: The reality V expectations
Art Reproduction terms explained: Commercial quality, medium quality, high quality and museum quality
The differences between the European and American art reproduction markets

Advice on choosing an art reproduction company


What is fine art reproduction (and Why Does it Matter)?

Fine art reproductions are hand painted replicas or copies of an original painting. So, for example if the Mona Lisa is your favourite painting you could commission a fine art reproduction of it and that painting would be hand painted by an artist. Fine art reproductions are not prints but are actually hand painted replica paintings hand painted by a copy artist.

Why do art reproductions matter?

seurat bathers at Asnières

Art reproductions matter as it means that you can now bring your favourite works of art into your own home or place of work. Being classier than prints and more authentic, you can commission an artist to hand paint you a fine art reproduction oil painting of your favourite painting. You can choose to commission fine art reproduction paintings of for example, Monet’s Waterlilies if you wanted to have calming soothing art on your walls or maybe you want to create a more uplifting mood with a Kandinsky.  Whatever your taste, the fact that you can now commission fine art reproductions of your favourite paintings means that you can bring your walls to life.


What is the history of fine art reproduction?

mona lisa copy

We can trace fine art reproduction oil paintings back to the 16th century, when it was common practice for art students to copy their old masters/teachers in order to learn how to paint. This procedure of copying their master’s artwork would allow an art student to practice a skilled mode of painting before developing their own style.  Many famous artists such as Degas and Picasso employed this practice.

Did you know…..

The most renowned artist to learn by art reproduction was Leonardo da Vinci. Yes, he was an apprentice to art master, Andrea Del Verrocchio. Leonardo would have learnt to paint in his teacher’s style first before adopting his own approach.

In the 1800’s, art reproduction (fine art replicas) were very popular especially among the Victorians and were actually, believe it or not highly collectable. The majority of fine art reproductions were painted for 2 reasons:  1. The art reproduction was painted at the request of a patron and secondly, fine art replicas were painted to try out variations on a work of art.


Things to Know about Chinese art reproduction

As you may well be aware, the main hub where art reproductions are painted is China.  The good things about having your art replica painted in China are:


  1. Cheap
  2. Fast
  3. They don’t care about copyright law so you can request any artist you want.


  1. Quality can be very poor
  2. A lot of Chinese copy artists find it hard to get colours to precisely match, especially yellows and greens.
  3. The oils used are often poor
  4. The canvas used is often cheap and flimsy such as nylon.


The thing to remember about Chinese art reproductions is that although the price tag can often be very attempting (you can buy a fine art replica of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers for around $70) your painting will quite often look like a child painted it. You therefore need to make a decision, what is more important to you, budget or quality?


Art Reproductions: They are not equal

What you really need to realise is that art reproductions are not created equal. I could order the Mona Lisa from 10 different art reproduction companies and all 10 I can assure you will be different. That’s because fundamentally a fine art reproduction painting is all about your artist and his or her ability as a copiest.

Are art reproductions worth anything?

In general art reproductions have little value. Fine art replica paintings are not an investment like some original art is. Then again, there’s no guarantee either that an original piece of art will go up in value either. There are of course exceptions with art reproductions. For example, if Hockney painted an art reproduction of the Mona Lisa, then yes that would be worth a lot as it is being painted by a famous artist. But in general art reproductions are worth whatever somebody is going to pay for them. We sometimes have auction houses contacting us in order to sell our artwork at auction so clearly there is money to be made as otherwise they wouldn’t be commissioning us to paint for them.


Reproduction Oil Paintings: The reality V expectations

Nearly all art reproduction companies say their reproduction oil paintings are “Museum Quality”. In the fine art reproduction industry “museum quality” refers to the top tier of art reproduction. For example, it means your replica oil painting will be painted to such a high standard that it will be nearly indistinguishable from the original. That a museum could place it up on it’s walls and nobody would be able to tell the difference. However the reality is, just because a company claims all their artwork is painted to a museum quality standard it doesn’t actually mean it will be. If you’re paying under $200 for an oil painting, it’s not very likely to be that great. High quality canvases and professional premium oil paints cost more than the industry standard that is used. A highly-skilled artist will charge more than an amateur or somebody who is not very confident in their own ability. So whatever art reproduction company you decide yo use, you need to have realistic expectations. In my experience when it comes to art reproduction the old adage is true. You get what you pay for.

Art Reproduction terms explained

  1. Commercial Quality Art Reproductions

These are the cheapest and lowest quality tier. You can sometimes buy a commercial quality art reproduction from China for around $12. The typical clientele will be wholesalers or large commercial chains who just want something to put up on their walls. The quality is poor and child-like, materials (canvas and oils) used of course will be the cheapest available. Commercial quality art reproductions are all about selling in bulk at a low price.

An example of commercial quality to show you…

van gogh terrasse des cafes commercial quality van gogh cafe terrace at night art reproduction

  Original                                        Commercial Van Gogh art reproduction from a Chinese art reproduction company


If you compare the original Van Gogh Cafe terrace at night to the Chinese art reproduction there are a number of large discrepancies.

  1. The Chinese art reproduction is a lot brighter
  2. The colours used to paint the ground are different from the original
  3. They haven’t bothered to paint all the people that you can see walking on the street
  4. The tables and chairs have been painted incorrectly
  5. The shutters have been painted the wrong colour etc etc

Again, it all depends on your expectations. Our clientele at (FARS) the Fine Art Reproduction Studio know about art and this quality would of course be nowhere near the quality that is expected. It would be a complete and utter embarrassment to put this on their or our walls for that matter. However, if you’re only paying $45 then your expectations can’t be that high and if you’re a massive chain and just want something for your walls then this could fit the bill.

But as you can see with commercial quality, colours and tones are completly different, figures and objects are missing etc


2. The Next Tier: What are Medium Quality Art Reproductions like?

Well medium quality art reproductions are typically like this….

medium quality art reproduction
Medium quality art reproduction painted in China by a Chinese art reproduction company.

Lets be honest, it’s not exactly great is it? Tone and colours are lacking, there are clear massive inaccuracies obviously. Van Gogh’s poor eye for example… I can’t imagine he would be very pleased if he saw this.


3. What are ‘High Quality’ Art Reproductions like?

chinese art reproduction of a renoir high quality
High quality Chinese art reproduction

It’s getting there. High quality art reproductions are said to be 80% accurate. Detail is what’s still really lacking but for some people this ‘level’ might be acceptable if you don’t compare it to the original.


4. Museum Quality Art Reproductions

Pulzone Lavinia della Rovere

This is what it’s all about. Museum quality art reproductions are what we all want. They are also what all art reproduction companies say they paint, even when it’s glaringly apparent that they do not. The best advice I can give you is when looking at art reproduction websites is to always look at their art portfolio and to compare their artwork with the original.

rogier van der weyden portrait of a lady  portrait of a lady van weyden

                     Original                                                Fine art reproduction


The differences between the European and American art reproduction markets

Having worked in the fine art reproduction industry for over 11 years now I can tell you there’s a definite difference between the quality that goes out to America and the quality of reproduction oil painting that gets delivered to Europe.  The UK and European market in general won’t accept “Museum quality Chinese art reproductions” as they aren’t up to scratch, whereas in general America does. Likewise, the majority of American art reproduction companies import all their art replicas from China, which is why we get a lot of clients coming to us, with stories of how disappointed they were with fine art reproductions that they have bought from America and are having to have their art reproductions recommissioned with us. They got lured by the promise of “Museum quality” paintings and a cheap price tag and have had to learn the tough lesson that in the art reproduction industry you definitely get what you pay for.


Advice on choosing an art reproduction company

The best advice I can give to you is:

  • In the fine art reproduction industry, you get what you pay for. If you’re paying under $200 for an oil painting, don’t expect much.
  • Always look through an art reproduction company’s portfolio to see if you’re happy with their quality.
  • Always compare the replica with the original so you can see the differences and judge for yourself how good or bad it is in comparison.
  • It is nearly impossible to replicate an oil painting with 100% precision. Don’t be fooled b y outrageous claims.


Do you have a question or something to add?

If you have a question you’d like to ask regarding art reproductions please leave a comment below or email: anouska@fineartreproductionstudio.com

About the author

The Fine Art Reproduction Studio is a small exclusive fine art reproduction studio based in London that solely paints museum quality art reproductions of your favourite oil paintings. Very high end. And all painted by top professional artists.

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Who We Are

The Fine Art Reproduction Studio is an exclusive online fine art studio that hand paints custom made fine art reproductions of your favourite paintings and bespoke commissions.