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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


If you have a student copy of an original and you think it is not worth anything, then you might be surprised to find yourself mistaken. In some instances appraisers have valued the copy over the original work it was based on due to the importance of the student who made it. Furthermore, even if you have a student copy created by an unknown it could be appraised in order to gather more information and then later sold at auction (or some other secondary market venue..) for more then you might think.

Madonna of the Chair; Raphael. 1518

Ref.: Madonna of the Chair; Appraised and Currently on Consignment at MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.

Copies vs. Forgeries
Copies are examples of a student artist attempting to master a technique through the work of his/her predecessors. Forgeries, on the other hand, are an attempt to make an exact replica of an object in order to fool collectors. This distinction is important because student artists bring something unique to their copies because they are not trying to create an exact likeness, and instead they are trying to learn a technique or style of painting. Therefore, each student copy has its own unique character completely distinct from the original.

The Value of a Copy

The differences found in a student copy make it more valuable then a poster or print of the original. Not only do owners of student copies have the opportunity to own a version of a masterpiece, as seen and possessed by the great museums of the world, they also own a completely unique work of art. This is because each student will bring their own individual style to the work. This is one of the reasons why appraisers find copies to be important and in many cases, valuable. Furthermore, some of the art world’s greatest masters began by learning about and copying the work of their predecessors. Their student copies are highly valued by appraisers because they are examples of the artist’s progression toward their own individual form of expression. In fact, these early studies often influence their later work. In some cases artists have borrowed significantly from their predecessors using the same subject matter and positioning, but they re-invent the image to express their own time and view point. In doing this artists create not only unique works, but entirely original pieces that can themselves become masterpieces. Thus, the student copy becomes a very desirable piece because it shows the artist’s development, as is demonstrated in Manet’s work, shown below:

Venus of Urbino; Titian. 1538

Ref.: Venus of Urbino; Manet. 1856

Olympia; Manet. 1863-65

Copies are often highly valued by appraisers for their insight into an artist’s development as well as being distinctly unique objects in their own right. This is why they should never be confused with the un-valuable forgery. If you have a copy and are unsure of its worth, then you should have it appraised because it might be worth more then you think.

- Anja Keppeler

MIR Appraisal Services, Inc.

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    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.