By Adrian Darmon
Many great masters copied works produced by their predecessors to improve their styles or to prove they were at least their equals. After several decades, many copies were mistaken with genuine works or sold by unscrupulous dealers as such.
Some artists also produced forgeries for fun or out of sheer jealousy to demonstrate that collectors were stupid. Others followed new trends set up by revolutionary artists and adopted their styles not knowing again that their works would then be attributed to those better sought by collectors.
For example the Carracci brothers founded an academy aimed at synthesizing the talents of Michelangelo, Correggio, Raphael and Titian. Other members of the Carracci family such as Francesco, Antonio, Paolo and Clovio limited themselves to copying the works of their illustrious parents. Today it is quite difficult to distinguish copies or genuine works produced by such painters.
Many painters were also inspired by the Carraccis such as Guercino and his pupils or followers like Schidone who produced many copies after Corregio, Antonio Crespi, Badalocchio, A. Milani, Piola, Viola and Alessandro Turchi making authentications quite uneasy to carry out.
The French painter François Perrier was employed by an artist in Rome to produce copies after old masters, which were sold afterwards as "genuine" by his unscrupulous patron and now experts have had the arduous task to correct many previous wrongful attributions.
The Dominican also produced many paintings after Raphael and Carracci and was himself much copied, notably by Leonello Spada.
Guido Reni also copied the Carracci brothers and many of his works were believed to have been painted by these artists. Still, a copy by Reni is today worth a lot on the market.