barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


‘Copying the Masters’ opens at the Barber

How artists have always copied other artists is the focus of our latest display. 

Throughout history, artists have both been copied by – and themselves copied the work of – other artists. If unauthorised, these copies could be seen as fraudulent and would be condemned as such. Though, artists often actively encouraged printmakers and other artists to replicate their work – for commercial gain, for practice and to raise the profile of the original.Copying the Masters’ brings together both printed and drawn copies from the Barber’s extensive collection, in order to explore the reasons for the popularity of such works.

The display features prints by  Dürer and Hogarth after their own paintings, and a black chalk drawing by  Ingres after  Leonardo da Vinci, as well as prints after artists such as Rubens and Reynolds. It includes Gerard van der Gucht’s copy of Poussin’s ‘Tancred and Erminia’, which hangs in the Barber.

Our current NADFAS Collections Intern, Charlotte Bagwell, curated the display.

“The Barber’s upcoming displays of Francis Bacon and Attilio Fiumarella both  show how the artists have looked at previous generations for inspiration,” Charlotte said.  “I realised the Barber had a selection of printed and drawn copies and that this was an area that I felt has been under-explored. I aimed to show how copying was mainly encouraged throughout the history of art, and the different reasons for artists objecting to or allowing works to be copied.”

The display is a fantastic opportunity to come face-to-face with some of the wonders of the Barber’s print collection, while gaining an understanding of how and why artists have made copies through firsthand examples of this practice. It runs until 7 May 2017.

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