Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I'd like to share an exercise with you. On the left is my version of a composition by Sargeant, on the right is the original. He completed this sketch on a trip to Morocco in 1880. I enjoyed the composition so much that I did a version of it with warmer tones and a palette knife, rather than using Sargent's cool colors and soft brushwork.

This type of exercise raises the question of forgery... is my version of the original a forgery? Does it only become a forgery if I have tried to reproduce the painting stroke for stroke and color for color, or is just quoting the composition enough? Would it be forgery if I went to Morocco, found the same spot, and painted there? Or would it now be a pilgrimage dedicated to a great painter? Lots of people have painted the Grand Canal in Venice or the same local barn, and some of those paintings look remarkably similar.

Maybe it is only a forgery if I try to pass it off as my own idea, or as a duplicate of the original. Occasionally, people offer to buy these "experimental copies", but I always feel like they are just exercises, not authentic Ann McMillan paintings.

3 comments:

Casey Klahn said...

I was just reading a book on classic atelier training, and was reminded that the copying of masters is a tried and true standard among artists.
This is a very impressive piece, Ann.
I don't sell what has been copied, although many in history have sold renditions of dated master's works.

Daredevil84 said...

your paintings are lovely!!

btw as for forgery, i dont think it will be so because your work is your own expression of the original thing,and you put in your labour and creativity in it,and didnt just copy it coloor by color or brush strokes.
even if copyright laws are applied, it will cound as an original work.
many artists pay tributes to famous artists by applying their styles or making painting which were inspired from their works.but they are still counted as original works.

froghair said...

I agree. As long as inspirational credit is given, and therefore you're not passing the work off as your own, you should be safe.

I recently read an article by a quilt designer who was frustrated with quilters who--when she refused to sell particular quilt patterns--would try to copy her work anyway. Which got me to thinking, where do you draw the line between "inspiration" and "copying" anyway? it's not like this woman invented the rectangle or curving lines and therefore if I use rectangular or curves in my quilting, am I inspired by her work? am I copying it? or is it my original idea, since she wasn't the origin of these shapes?

a question for the ages.

Ann, it's been great to find your blog -- your work is just lovely and I am glad to have caught up with you again!

-- andrea s