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Artist terms

active dates – dates during which an artist was known to be working

unknown artist – identity of the artist is not known

School – group of artists or artworks of the same geographical origin and with stylistic similarities, e.g. British School, French School

Master of – the identity of the artist is not known but artworks by the same hand have been identified. These artists are often named after their most famous works, e.g. Master of the Barbara Legend, or the place where they worked, e.g. Master of Delft

Artist attributions

after – a direct imitation of an original artwork, made at a later date

assistant – someone who worked in the artist's studio

and assistants – by the artist, made with help from his assistants

associate of – by someone who had links to the artist, but was not in their studio

attributed to – thought to have been painted by the artist, but there is a degree of uncertainty

by or after – either by the artist or a direct imitation of the artist’s style, made at a later date

by or follower of – either by the artist or by someone who admired them and imitated their style, but was not necessarily a pupil

circle of – by an artist closely associated with the master artist, but who did not work in their studio

copy after – repetition of another artwork, generally made after the artist’s lifetime, or by an artist outside their studio

copy of – repetition of another artwork

follower of – by someone who admired the artist and imitated their style, but was not necessarily a pupil

forgery – imitation of an artwork, intended to deceive

imitator of – by someone who admired the artist and their style, but was probably working at a later date

possibly – thought to be by the artist, but this is uncertain

pupil of – by someone who trained within the studio or workshop of the artist, often profoundly influenced by the artist's style

school of – in the general style or manner of

student of – by someone who trained within the studio or workshop of the artist, often profoundly influenced by the artist's style

studio of – by assistants or pupils who worked in the artist’s studio, probably under the direction and guidance of the artist

and studio – by the artist, with assistance from his studio

studio copy – by pupils in imitation of the master artist. Pupils often copied the artist’s most famous works in order to disseminate copies

style of – by someone who created the artwork in a manner that resembles the artist 

Artist roles

apprenticelearns a trade from a skilled employer. They usually agree to work for a fixed term at low wages in return for learning skills and gaining experience. Historically, apprentices working in artist workshops began training at an early age. Once they had gained some skills, apprentices might become an assistant to the artist, working in their studio

blacksmith – or metalworker creates objects from iron or steel by forging the metal (heating it at high temperatures) and using tools to hammer, bend, and cut it. Sculptors or designers often employ blacksmiths to realise their designs, this is especially the case up until the mid-twentieth century, when sculptors began to learn blacksmithing skills in order to make their sculptures themselves. The place where a blacksmith works is called a smithy, a forge or a blacksmith's shop

block-cutter – a term used in print-making, a block-cutter is the craftsman responsible for cutting the design drawn by the artist onto a woodblock. Sometimes, highly skilled artists (e.g. Albrecht Altdörfer and perhaps Albrecht Dürer) cut their own blocks without resorting to trained block-cutters

carver – uses chisels to cut and remove sections of wood or stone to create letters or forms

ceramicist – uses clay to make ceramic objects or works of art. Many artists who make ceramic objects, for example Grayson Perry, define themselves as ceramicists rather than sculptors

designer – the artist responsible for drawing or planning a design, for example for a print, sculpture or monument. In printmaking, the design will be transferred from paper to the printing medium (metal plate or wood block). A designer and printmaker are not necessarily the same person: the actual printmaking requires specialised skills and not all artists are trained to make prints. In sculpture, the design will usually be realised by a skilled craftsman – such as a stonemason, carver or blacksmith – or by a sculptor

foundry – a factory where metal is heated, forged or moulded to make metal objects including sculptures. Some foundries specialise in making sculptures for artists

gilder – a skilled craftsman who applies gold leaf to the surface of objects

glass worker  uses glass to make glass objects or works of art. Many artists who use glass define themselves as glass workers rather than sculptors

manufacturer – in sculpture, the role of the manufacturer (often a company), is to make or produce a sculpture to the sculptor or designer’s specification. Manufacturers are sometimes employed to produce editions of sculptures. The term manufacturer is not specific to a material, and manufacturers might work with ceramics, metals or other materials such as fibreglass or plastics

metalworker – creates objects from metal

printmaker – up to the eighteenth century, there was a clear separation of the roles in a printmaker's workshop. The printmaker was responsible for the manufacture of prints, such as woodcuts or engravings

publisher – responsible for the marketing of prints. Before the twentieth century, publishers often added their address on the plate, later replaced with a blind-stamp on each impression of a print. The term publisher was also historically applied to someone who produced and marketed editions of sculpture

sculptor – an artist who makes three-dimensional artworks

silversmith – works with silver to create silver objects including sculpture

stonemason – someone skilled in carving stone. Stonemasons are often employed by architects to make decorative or functional features for buildings and structures. Sculptors and designers may also employ stonemasons to realise their designs. Some stonemasons specialise in carving letters – they are often referred to as letter-carvers – and are employed to carve inscriptions for tombs and other monuments