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Louvre Copyists Learn by Painting the Masterpieces

Guest contributor Rose Palmer shares her award-winning photo of one of the Louvre copyists – and tells us why it caught her attention.

Visit the Louvre Museum in Paris, and you’ll be immersed in a treasure trove of history.

One of the best museums in Europe, it’s known for its great collection of masterpiece paintings.

From the enigmatic smile of Mona Lisa to Vermeer’s Lacemaker, every corner whispers stories of the past.

Creative Louvre copyists

Louvre Copyists

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 Louvre copyists follow in the footsteps of artists like Picasso, Cezanne and Degas, who also learned by painting other great works of art.

Art copyists

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.

Louvre visit


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)

Rose won a Finalist award for her black-and-white Louvre photo (shown here) in the “Photography: Overall Excellence, Online Publication” category in the 2017 North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) awards competition.

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About the author

A retired PhD chemist, Rose Palmer combines her lifelong love for travel, photography and quilting on her blog, Quiltripping (because “life is a patchwork of experiences”).


Monday 19th of March 2018

Beautiful photo. I loved the post! Another reason to visit the Louvre!

Janice and George

Tuesday 20th of March 2018

We loved Rose's story too :-). And we're delighted she shared her photo here!

Alvin Wisley

Tuesday 30th of January 2018

Nice post. Picture is stunning. Thanks for sharing.

Janice and George

Tuesday 30th of January 2018

We agree, an eye-catching photo :-).

Irene Levine

Sunday 7th of January 2018

Love this photo and the story!

Janice and George

Sunday 7th of January 2018

Rose took a great picture :-). We didn't know about the copyists at the Louvre before, so we personally found the story intriguing too.