Rome Travel Guide

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Art World: When a Copy is just as Good--and a lot Cheaper

As it relates to art, forgery has a long and complex history.  Not so long ago, a brilliant artist could make a virtually perfect copy of an existing work and be rewarded rather than jailed.  Andrea del
Sarto produced an astonishingly good reproduction of a Raphael painting and presented it to Pope Leo X, who was fooled--and delighted.  And Michelangelo was a prolific forger, having once made, buried, and "rediscovered" an ancient statue of Cupid. 

Today, forgery, in the sense of copying a work of art with intent to deceive the buyer or recipient into thinking it's an original, is illegal.  But just copying a work of art, with the understanding that the result is only a copy?  That's OK.  Indeed, in Rome one can make a business of it.  In the heart of city, not far from Piazza Barberini, up via Francesco Crispi from the icy Gagosian gallery, and next door to the city's contemporary art museum, there's a shop where you can get anything copied--anything, that is, except currency, or certain documents.

At Alessi, they'll make you a perfect copy of the grand masters, or so the sign says.  Or bring in a photo. 

Conor Fitzgerald's The Fatal Touch (2011), a police/detective novel set in Rome's Trastevere, offers an entertaining--and detailed--introduction to the complex art of copying.   Bill

Okay, but who's the grand master?

 [Since we published this post, readers have let us
know that the painting is The Singing Butler (1992), by Jack Vettriano, a Scottish artist.
It's enormously popular in the UK (and likely elsewhere) and has been the subject of numerous
parodies, including one by London artist Banksy, below]



 

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