Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni’s father sent him for formal schooling, but Michelangelo preferred copying paintings in churches. He later befriended arts and studied with some of the great painter and sculptors of his time. But he thought that he could learn more by copying the masters.
In museums around the world, you can see artists creating copies paintings. In Louvre in Paris, you can see a stream of artists copying their great paintings. Copying masterpieces has been a cornerstone of traditional art education for a long time. In fact, one art course you can take at The New York Academy of Art in New York City, NY, USA consists of students walking a few blocks to The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) and copying paintings. That is the course!
I have done copies of paintings at MMA New York City of oil paintings by Theodore Gericault (French Romantic Painter, 1791-1824) and Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez (Spanish Baroque Era Painter, 1599 – 1660).
Artists at MMA who want to make copies make a request to MMA’s Education Department. The Museum allows artists to get exclusive use for a month to one room or gallery in the museum to do a copy of a specific painting. The public still has access, but only one artist is allowed to copy in that gallery. I highly recommend your doing the same.
Museums vary in permitting artists to do copies. In New York City, USA, the MMA does, but the Frick Collection and the Museum of Modern Art do not. Check with your museum.
How it works varies from museum to museum, but generally, you apply, get permission and follow that museum’s rules. For example, in the Louvre, and other museums, painters are not supposed to use the same size canvas as the original. You can’t eat or drink in the museum, must use a canvas drop cloth on the floor where you paint on an easel and you must clean up thoroughly after every session. Some museums offer copyists locker space to leave their paintings and gear at the museum instead of bringing everything back and forth each day you want to copy during your month access to a painting gallery.
If you can’t afford to go to an art school because of time and/or money, learn from the masters. If you can’t get to a museum, copy the great paintings from reproductions. If you can’t get reproductions, you can find them in library books or on the web.
What you can learn from copying the masters? Everyone is different in their ability to extract information from art instruction textbooks, videos or art classes. By copying a masterwork, you can learn something about the artist’s technique, handling of paint, use of color, composition, form, drawing and so on.
Can you learn from copying great paintings? Michelangelo thought so.
The author has painted and taught for 50 years and has had over 30 art exhibits of his paintings. My USA based online art school has students in 19 countries. I have taught art classes at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and Manhattan, USA, Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, Famous Artists Schools in Westport, Connecticut, USA. I have also lectured on various art subjects all over the USA and in Holland, Belgium, France, South Africa and Australia.
Comes with an enclosed, supportive DVD-ROM.
The Louvre is the world's most visited art museum, with 8.5 million visitors annually, and houses the most celebrated and important paintings of all time. For the first time ever, The Louvre: All the Paintings collects all 3,022 paintings currently on display in the permanent collection in one beautifully curated volume.Organized and divided into the four main painting collections of the museum— the Italian School, the Northern School, the Spanish School, and the French School— the paintings are then presented chronologically by the artist's date of birth.Four hundred of the most iconic and significant paintings are illuminated with 300-word discussions by art historians Anja Grebe and Vincent Pomarède on the key attributes of the work, what to look for when viewing the painting, the artist's inspirations and techniques, biographical information on the artist, the artist's impact on the history of art, and more.
All 3,022 paintings are fully annotated with the name of the painting and artist, the date of the work, the birth and death dates of the artist, the medium that was used, the size of the painting, the Louvre catalog number, and the room in the Louvre in which the painting is found.
The DVD-ROM is easily browsable by artist, date, school, art historical genre, or location in the Louvre. This last feature allows readers to tour the Louvre and its contents room by room, as if they were actually walking through the building.
DVD-ROM System Requirements: DVD-ROM runs on a PC (Windows 2000/XP or later) and MAC (OSX 10.4.8 or later) running the following browser software Internet Explorer 7 or 8; Firefox 3.6 and above; or Safari 5.0 and above.
- The Louvre All the Paintings