Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

1-800-Paint-Me-a-Masterpiece Can't Afford a Monet? Try a Replica Painted by Hand or Machine

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

1-800-Paint-Me-a-Masterpiece Can't Afford a Monet? Try a Replica Painted by Hand or Machine

Article excerpt

There's a history behind Leonardo da Vinci's famed "Mona Lisa" worthy of a caper in "The Pink Panther." The painting was stolen for the third time in 1911 and recovered in 1913.

Before it was found, though, eight copies had been made and sold to collectors, all of whom believed they had purchased the real thing.

These shady transactions foreshadowed a more honest practice to come. Why would someone choose to buy a work of art that could never be sold or even shown to friends? "Nobody can afford to buy an original Monet or Rembrandt, but a lot of people want something that is closer to the original than a poster...," says Gregory Panjian, president of The Masters Collection, an art-replica company in Somersville, Conn. "With a replica, you get to enjoy a multimillion-dollar painting ... in your own home or office, and at a very affordable price." Replicas are painted by hand on canvas from the original, either by an artist or a high-tech machine. Many of the artists have studied the Old Masters, and their copies employ the same types of paint used by the original creators. Some works include historically accurate frames. These copies sell for between $300 to $3,000, depending upon the size of the picture, the work to be copied, and whether the picture has been antiqued and crackled to give it an aged look. Even the high-tech methods still involve artists. In one process poster prints of famous works are chemically treated to transfer their pigment to canvas. Artists then add brushstrokes in clear acrylic, following the lines of the image using the original artist's style. Other techniques include Polaroid reproductions that use a room- sized camera with strips of film as large as the paintings in order not to lose any detail. In addition, electronic imaging - computers and lasers that correct colors at more than 90,000 points per square inch - are employed. With out-of-reach prices for much original artwork, along with the increasing interest in famous paintings, the field of art copies is growing. …

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