Copies – Do They Have Value?
Assuming that the original artist was not involved; can a copy of a famous artist's painting, executed by another artist, have any value?
This is an interesting question to explore. Most artists often begin their art education by studying and copying works by artists they admire. Whether or not these studies take place independently or at formal schools/ateliers, understanding the techniques and qualities of the great artists are important in the development of any aspiring artist’s style. I am sure that many of our readers have visited a museum or two and encountered a young painter seated at an easel copying a work of art. Most likely, they are attempting to learn how that artist constructed the different elements in that work and many times the best way to learn is to try and copy.
So, as the artist’s career and style develops, what happens to these early copies? If the artist in question never becomes important, commercially or historically within the art world, then these, plus all their other works, will always remain in that area of the art world we call – the Decorative Realm. Now let’s keep in mind that many aspiring artists have little or no true talent and their works will never have any real value.
To take this one step further, if the artist in question attains some level of skill, but never achieves commercial success, the odds are that the copies they produced during their career will also remain in the Decorative Realm. However, since these artists had more technical skills, their works will have more monetary value; as compared to those artists who had little or no real talent. You will also find that many generations later, the works of some of these artists will begin to sell for decent prices just because they are ‘period paintings’ --- works capturing the life and mood of the times in which they were created.
To illustrate this point, consider the great number of ancestral portraits one sees on the market. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Great Britain produced some of the finest portrait artists – Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Lawrence to name a few. Today, the right work by the any one of them will sell for a price in excess of $1 million. Throughout the years, their works were acquired by public collections and while on display were often copied by younger artists looking to perfect their talents. Many of these ‘un-attributable’ portraits have survived and frequently appear on the market. Some are sold as ‘studio’ works (those done in the master’s studio), while others are sold as ‘circle of’ (done at the same time the artist was living) and still others as ‘manner of’, or ‘after’ the artist (the former typically suggesting a work in the style of the artist, but of a later date, while the latter signifying a copy of a specific work). When these works resurface, they have a wide range of ‘decorative value’ depending on how talented the unknown artist was and how decorative/pretty the portrait is – the prettier the work, the more value the market will place on it.
Now, what about those young artists who do become famous and their works now have historical and monetary value? In this case, the early copies they did may actually become very valuable. Of course, the value of these works will be relative to the general price range for the specific artist and the technical precision they display. Every artist had their ‘first’ painting and many of those ‘first’ paintings are not very good ... you may even find that it took an artist a number of tries before their talent began to surface; so there may be a number of early works (some of which are often copies of other artist’s works) that are not very good.
These early examples often attract the interest of museums and serious collectors who are looking to amass a broad spectrum of a specific artist’s oeuvre (body of work). We currently know that early in his career, the great 20th century artist Piet Mondrian studied the work of Julien Dupré. Today, a small watercolor copy/study of Dupré’s Au Pâturage has survived and while it will not bring the millions of dollars one of Mondrian’s signature images would, it does have some monetary value to Mondrian collectors.
If this same artist decided, at the height of his/her career, to paint a copy of a work by another artist, this work would also have value – but if the painting is not typical of the style and subject matter of the copyist, it will have less value than one of their signature images.
Please keep in mind that this discussion revolves around the idea of an unrelated artist painting a copy. These artists are not working in the studio of the master and are not being directed by that master.
So to answer the basic question - can a copy of a painting, done by another artist, have any value? The short answer is yes. But like everything else in the art world … just how much value depends on many factors.
Swatland Captures Gold at New York Art Show
As some of our collectors already know, earlier this month we were pleased to announce that the jury for the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club’s 108th Annual Open Juried Exhibition called to inform Sally that her painting - Todd's Point - was awarded the top award in oil and acrylic painting and she will be receiving the Gold Medal of Honor along with a cash award of $500. Over 500 works were submitted for inclusion in this prestigious event and of those 270 were chosen for display.
This was the first time Sally had submitted a work to the Art Club for possible inclusion in their annual exhibit. Todd’s Point was chosen from the 270 entries by an independent jury that included Kevin Avery, PhD, Associate Curator for the Department of American Painting and Sculpture of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Tom Zeit, executive editor of The Artist’s Magazine; and Kathleen Zimmerman, an academician (NA) of the National Academy of Design.
The Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, one of the oldest women's art clubs in the country, was founded in 1896 in honor of Miss Wolfe, one of the country's first collectors and the only woman among the 106 subscribers to the founding of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In its early days the club's chief function was to provide aid, counsel and exhibition space for women art students, for whom a life in art was a particular struggle in that period. Later, the focus shifted to women artists of professional standing, first in the New York area alone, and then nationwide. The club's home, since it’s founding, has been at the Grace Church, Parish House in New York City, where the club's monthly meetings are still conducted. Most of the states in the United States are represented in the club's membership, as well as a number of foreign countries.
This is great news for all of Sally’s supporters!
The Works of Allan R. Banks
The gallery is excited to announce that we began exhibiting the works Allan R. Banks this month. Allan is considered one of the nation’s foremost Classical Realist artists and since 1997 has been the president of the American Society of Classical Realism.
Through his formal studies with Richard Lack and R.H. Ives Gammell and his independent studies of the 19th century academic masters, Allan has created a contemporary style that continues the great tradition of the Paris Salon artists like Bouguereau and Bastien-Lepage. His technical abilities and style are unsurpassed and a number of his works have already found their way into important private and public collections; including those of the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT; The Newark Museum, Newark, NJ; and the Springville Museum, Utah.
Allan is truly one of today’s modern masters and we invite you all to visit our web site to see some of Allan’s most recent creations.
Howard L. Rehs
© Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York – November 2004
Gallery Updates: The gallery will be participating in the Art & Antique Dealers League of America’s Third Annual Connoisseurs Antique Fair at the Downtown Armory (Lexington Avenue & 26th Street) in New York City this month. The exhibition will take place from November 19 – 22, if you are in the area please stop by for a visit.
New works by Edouard Cortès, Antoine Blanchard, Eugene Galien Laloue, Gregory Harris, Pierre Ouvrié, and Sally Swatland have been added to our web site this month.
Virtual Exhibitions: Since my last sales update the gallery has sold a number of important and wonderful works – Many of them have been added to their respective Virtual Exhibitions. Among the sold works were: William A. Bouguereau’s La Frileuse (1879); Daniel Ridgway Knight’s The Fisherman’s Daughter (c.1899); Julien Dupré’s Femme Portant à Manger (c.1887); Eugene Galien Laloue’s Paris, Le marche aux fleurs (c.1880) and Un 14 Juillet, Place de la Bastille (c.1890); Edouard Cortès’ Le Café Balthazard, Place de la Republique (c.1915); Le marché aux fleurs, Place de la Madeleine (c.1920-25); Porte St. Denis, 1905 (c.1950); and Rue Royale, Winter (c.1955); Louis Aston Knight’s Goupilliere, France; Antoine Blanchard’s large Café de la Paix (c.1968); John Kuhn’s Red Plums; and a number of works by Sally Swatland, including Castle Building, Fourth of July, Watching Minnows, A Good Catch, and Sand Crab Collection.
Next Month: I will update you on the art market … what appears to be hot and what does not!