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The art of the copy: replication and the arts

Weekend-long art history and theory course

Short course

  • 15 February 2020, 10am — 5pm
  • 16 February 2020, 10am — 5pm

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Edward Francis Burney, The Antique School at New Somerset House, ca. 1780.

Pen and ink with watercolour wash on laid paper.

We are used to thinking of art as ‘original’ works by artists and craftsmen, when in fact copying was standard practice for many centuries. This course will look at this process of copying works of art from the Renaissance period to the present day.

Since the 20th century art schools have placed great emphasis on students finding an individual style of expression, but other epochs have viewed the training of artists differently. For centuries art students were trained through copying acknowledged ‘great’ works of art, especially paintings and sculpture.

This method was used in the RA Schools to teach students throughout the 19th century. In earlier centuries, the emphasis was on technical accomplishment and knowledge of prevailing styles, and copies were often valued in their own right as desirable works of art.

Beginning with the idea of training the eye and the hand through making copies of artworks, this course will look at how and why copies of Old Master works have been made, with reference to the Royal Academy’s own collections of such material.

It will then go on to consider copying in its wider context, from print culture to the literal replication of specific works of fine and decorative art to the intentional use of copies in historic house restorations, a very twenty-first-century phenomenon. The differences between copies, replicas, pastiches, and revivals will also be considered.

Taught by experts across diverse areas of art, the course will combine the visual with the historical, and an enquiring mind is needed. I also includes visits to the study collections of the RA, as well as the world-renowned collection of plaster casts at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 15 February 2020, 10am — 5pm
  • 16 February 2020, 10am — 5pm

Wolfson British Academy Room, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£420. Includes all materials, light refreshments and a wine reception at the end of day one.

Book now