Guest contributor Rose Palmer shares her award-winning photo of one of the Louvre copyists – and tells us why it caught her attention.
The Louvre Museum in Paris is known for its great collection of masterpiece paintings.
Creative copyists at the Louvre
Since it became a museum for the people during the French Revolution, the Louvre has also been open to the public as an art classroom.
Professional and amateur artists alike can set up an easel and paint one of the classics.
These copyists at the Louvre follow in the footsteps of artists like Picasso, Cezanne and Degas, who also learned by painting other great works of art.
To ensure that the final painting cannot be passed off as a forgery, the copy (or pastiche) needs to be larger or smaller than the original, and it cannot include the original artist’s signature.
If you’re visiting the Louvre Museum in the mornings from September through June, you’re likely to see these budding artists at work.
In my case, I encountered this a few years ago when I was chaperoning my daughter’s senior high school girl scout trip to Europe.
For most of the girls, this was their first time abroad, and Paris was the climax to a memorable two-week trip.
A visit to the Louvre was, of course, a necessity.
I think in some cases, the girls were more entertained by watching the many copyists at the Louvre working away than by looking at yet another large canvas of an artist who was long dead!
Taking photos in the Louvre
As I watched my daughter and a friend take a short break, I was struck by the imagery of the moment – and had to take this photo.
The girls’ body posture mimicked the posture of the subject the artist was copying (the painting is “Alexander in Babylon” by Charles LeBrun).
The photo composition leads the eye from the girls sitting on the bench to the artist to the girl in the painting on the wall.
By turning this into a black and white photo, the composition and the contrast of light and dark take center stage.
Read more: Visiting the Louvre Museum guide (Skip the line, Louvre Artwork and best Louvre tips)