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From Botticelli’s Studio Still Means The Painting’s Not An Original

Pity the poor headline writer at the Independent, one of those who did English at uni rather than gaining a generally rounded education by doing one of the sciences. Having done something which actually required thinking would have aided in avoiding this mistake:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]’Fake’ Botticelli masterpiece turns out to be real[/perfectpullquote]

For they did not find out that the Botticelli is real at all. The BBC has it right:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]’Fake’ Botticelli painting is from artist’s studio, English Heritage says[/perfectpullquote]

It was originally thought that the painting was a copy of the original from a century later by some unknown artist. And instead it’s highly likely that it was produced at the right time, in the right studio, under even the control of the master. That doesn’t make it real though. That would be like saying that a song written by Smokey Robinson, or perhaps even produced by Smokey Robinson, is a song by Smokey Robinson. Nope, there was an awful lot of Motown that wasn’t actually done by him, even if he organised more than he sang of it.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”Botticelli, like other contemporary Florentine painters, had an active studio which issued versions and adaptations, presumably at lower prices, of works that were popular,” according to Professor Paul Joannides, emeritus professor of art history at the University of Cambridge.[/perfectpullquote]

Which is why we have in descending order, paintings by Botticelli, studio of Botticelli, school of Botticelli (say, a student who has moved on) and copies of Botticelli. Only the first is a “real” Botticelli and moving from class four to class two doesn’t make a painting a real one.

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