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Copie nella Storia
The art of copying paintings dates back to very remote time periods
and has always had a role of great importance in the development of the history of art,
both for the public and for the artists themselves. In fact a large number of great
artists of the past trained themselves thanks to the observation and reproduction of the
works of their "masters".
The history of art bears witness to innumerable examples:
Michelangelo, still aged only
fourteen, received his training at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent, in the midst of
classical statues and the works of Masaccio.
The Flemish painters admired the Renaissance artists so
much that they studied them thoroughly, copying their works:
Peter Paul Rubens alternated
between copies and his own paintings; it is to him that we now owe the pleasure of being
able to admire The Battle of Anghiari, painted by Leonardo da Vinci and later
irretrievably lost. He also made an admirable copy of the Portrait of Baldassarre
Castiglione, by Raffaello Sanzio.
Rembrandt had an unrestrained
admiration for Raphael, many of whose works he reproduced, including another version,
surprisingly similar, of the Portrait of Baldassarre Castiglione.
The Madonna of the Carnation by
Leonardo da Vinci, thanks to the skill of two Flemish masters, is present in two copies,
one in St. Petersburg and one in the Louvre.
Many other talented artists took pleasure in reproducing
the works of Raphael;
the Holy Family, also called the Madonna of the
Veil, exists in many copies (Louvre, Florence, Rome, New York), a true
stroke of luck as the original has been destroyed.
The Virgin of the Rocks by
Leonardo da Vinci is accessible at two sites, one at the Louvre and the other at the
National Gallery in London. What not everyone knows is that the latter version has been
attributed to Evangelista de Predis.
Titian was another eminent
admirer and student of Raphael's work, and produced the copy of the Portrait of Julius II,
which we can admire today at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
Art from later periods than the Renaissance has also been
the subject of great interest:
the Spanish painter Josef Ribera with his painting Allegory
of Taste is present in many museums thanks to the artists who reproduced
Moreover, the reproductions of the scenes painted by Canaletto and Guardi are
The imitation of the greatest masterpieces also continued
into modern times.
Vincent van Gogh, who as a
hobby reproduced the work of artists such as Millet and Daumier, is undoubtedly one of the
most famous artists of the period. Particularly famous is his copy of Eugène Delacroix'
Around the mid-1890s, the works of Degas, and particularly his pictures of
ballerinas, were so sought after that the merchant Paul Durant Ruel asked Federico Zandomeneghi, a renowned Venetian artist
and a friend of Degas, to produce replicas; these include the copy of Waiting, of which the original is on display at
the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Paul Gauguin loved to reproduce
the work of his Impressionist colleagues and friends;
Pablo Picasso reproduced any
painting that pleased him.
Possessing a copy of a work of art jealously guarded in a
museum is a matter of great prestige, since it is true that many distinguished men possess
entire collections of copies of masterpieces.