The term copy refers to the reproduction of an original. We can distinguish various meanings of the term: replica is the repetition, by the same artist (or under his supervision), of his own work. The specimen therefore has the same appearance as the model, but can have different dimensions. The variant is a copy to which some modification has been made, but without altering the whole. The fake represents a repetition of the original with the intent of fraud.

Making copies is a way to spread successful models, but also to invent new ones: in some cases it is an opportunity to reinterpret famous works.

The use of copies from original statues by famous artists (in particular Praxiteles and Lysippos) spread mainly from the Hellenistic period, even if the ancient copies had a certain autonomy in the details because they rarely derived from casts. The ancient copyist freely established the single reference measures, in this way numerous variations could take place that manifested the style of the copyist and his interpretation of the model. Copies are of fundamental importance in Greco-Roman art, the originals being lost in most cases. Although many of the copied works were bronze statues, marble was almost always used for the copies because it was cheaper.

Until recently, a method used to make a faithful copy of an original is the contact cast. The traditional material, gypsum, has been replaced in recent years by silicone. With both materials, a smaller casting is obtained than the original subject, because the bronze has a shrinkage of 5%. Modern technology has offered another way, even less invasive, of detection: 3D scanning allows a perfect rendering of the work without touching it with a finger and moreover it is possible to add the percentage of the bronze shrinkage on the prototype from which obtain the cast, in order to obtain a copy perfectly corresponding to the original.

Potere e Patos – Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze