Here's a small matrix which should help you choosing the right instance.

In general:

  • an Artifact holds a file mapped on a certain coordinate.
  • a Dependency contains an artifact and has transitive information
  • a MavenProject hold a pom-file and optional mainfile and can have attached (=classified) files, all using the same GAV.
    Dependency Artifact MavenProject
    Has dependencies yes no yes
    filetype reference type file-extension packaging
    version ranges yes no no
    attached artifacts no no yes

This implies the following:

  • From dependency to artifact is possible, since you can map a type to an extension. However, it is not possible to go from artifact back to dependency, there are several types which have jar as file extension.
  • There's no such thing as transitive artifacts. Filtering during resolution as based on DependencyFilters, ArtifactFilters can only be applied afterwards, hence are less efficient.