They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery…
But all too often the line between ‘inspired by’ and ‘copy of’ is a blurred one. We’ve all seen the Zara clothes that look eerily similar to the Isabel Marant collections, and the Aldo shoes that even without red soles channel the designs of Louboutin. But it’s not just the fashion industry that suffers from copy cats.
Writers have their work plagiarized, websites have their content scraped and manufacturers have their patents infringed.
In the art world, some artists are described as ‘derivative’ or ‘from the school of…’ when similarities in content or technique are seen. This isn’t a new phenomenon -
Take Koninck and Rembrandt for example.
We all know Rembrandt. The Dutch master is one of the best known artists in the Flemish school and his pieces are a draw in museums throughout the world. At the Louvre, it was a thrill to see the piece below and the mastery of light and subject matter up close.
Except this isn’t by Rembrandt.
It’s by Salomon Koninck, a contemporary of Rembrandt’s. Koninck painted the ‘Philosophe au livre ouvert/Philosopher with an open book’ between 1640 and 1650, and the piece was originally attributed to Rembrandt as it bore striking similarity to an earlier piece by the Master, shown here:
Both pieces are at the Louvre, but in seperate rooms. When I saw the Rembrandt I had a very strong sense of ‘deja vu’ and then backtracked to see the Koninck.
or a straight up copy?