Sculpture/Bronze Chris Baldwin
Hello, we have aquired a lovely piece comprising of a bronze Skye Terrier with a slipper in it's mouth. The piece is dated 1997 and is marked AP/50- I know that you do not wish to answer spacific questions, but I just wondered if you knew anything about the AP marking. I gather this means artist proof but does that mean it is a one off? Is there any way that I can find out if any more of these were produced. Apparently there was a catolouge but this piece was never included in it.
I would be very grateful for any information you could give as I love the piece and would be really interested to find out more about both it and the artist.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this, and even if you do not know the answers if you could possibly point me in the right direction to make further enquiries I would be grateful.
In many cases, an artist will make an edition of a finite number of pieces... maybe 10, maybe 50, etc. Each one of those pieces has a specific value (or a value range), and when the artist makes the piece, he/she can get an idea of how much can be made should the edition be capable of selling out.
However, the artist may want to have one piece to keep...without depleting his/her total take on the edition. In this case, an artist will make his/her own copy separate from the edition. This is usually called an "artist's proof", or "AP". It is also sometimes called an "artist's copy".
The artist will also sometimes use an "ap" to change something about the sculpture without making the change to any one of the otherwise identical pieces in an edition. This way he/she can make the change without effecting the value of the edition. The particulars of any artist's proofs and how he/she uses(used) them are embedded in the particular habits and reputation of that specific artist...there are no "rules" that govern "proofing" across the board.
The tradition of creating artist's proofs is grounded in the arts of print making. Often the artist would pull proofs to see how things with a new print were progressing before printing the edition. These were artist's proofs also; "aps" were not just final versions for the artist to keep..they were also variations on an edition of prints. Also, in many cases an artist would make a master, then have a print making professional "pull the edition" for the artist. The printer would then make a separate proof for the artist to keep, and often on for him/herself as partial payment for the job...that would be a "printer's Proof" or "PP".
As it applies to bronze sculpture... much like the artist and the printer, more often then not, the artist who made the original clay sculpture is not the one who made the bronze editions. Usually, a foundry is used to make the castings because casting bronze requires a very specific skill set as well as specialized machinery. Many times a sculptor will have the foundry make a proof for him/herself, and sometimes a foundry proof as well. The foundry proof is used to act as a "master" for all of the pieces in the edition to be compared to in order to maintain consistency throughout. Bronze sculpture editions are rarely made all at once (all 50, for instance) because of the incredible upfront costs associated with doing so. They are typically made to order, so a foundry proof is a means to replicate each piece in the edition as perfectly as possible.
The AP.50 designation is a bit strange... typically if there is going to be more then one AP made, then each particular piece is marked with an expression describing which number of a total the individual is. For example: AP 3/5. In this example, the piece is the third out of a total of five pieces. Fifty is a very large quantity for a set of "APs", but it does happen. Sometimes it is just a way for a manufacturer (or artist) to dramatically increase the number of pieces available for sale without creating a huge edition size. For example, as artist creates a sculpture and sells the design to a manufacturer. The manufacturer creates a "limited edition" of 50, but also have 50 "APs". Now the manufacturer has fifty more pieces to sell. Sometimes you run into the even less scrupulous who will mar a piece AP/50, which suggests that there are a limited number of APs... only fifty. However, because there is no individual demarcation (AP 4/50), they can keep selling them indefinitely. Yours could be an example of this kind of thing, but there is also the possibility that it was intended to have a number before the /50, and it was simply missed during production... if that were the case, yours could be quite valuable. You might want to look at other examples of Chris Baldwin artwork to get an idea of how his work is editioned.