Copies and replicas

During the replication process in Turku Castle, I have been asked on daily bases “what is the difference between copy and replica?” to which I have come to the answer: copies can be done by anyone, in any size or material compared to the original/model work. The success of the copy, is it good or not, depends on various things but mainly – how close it appears to its model – the level of visual sameness it holds from the model. So copy requires to be recognized as a copy of another work, it needs to hold certain amount of elements that would be associated to its model, while replica… Replica needs to hold most (if not every) aspect of the original work. It needs to be in material and production identical to its model, however certain smaller changes, either in material or technique, are necessary to remain a difference from the original due to ethical standards and copyright laws. Usually a team of people work on replica-production, with variety of experts from art history, conservation, restoration and art production – artists, and the changes that need to be made are carefully planned so the replica remains a “replica” and not a high quality copy.

What are the main characteristics and differences in approach of creating an art copy in comparison to a creation of an art replica?

To answer this question, my dissertation will give detailed study regarding the replication process in comparison to the methods used in creating the copies of selected works:

Case study: Copy of work by John Opie, Portrait of Rev Edward Daniel Clarke, 1822; oil on canvas; 70 x 100 cm


Case study: Assembly-copy of work by Benjamin West, Portrait of General Thaddeus Kosciuszko, 1797; oil on canvas; 100 x 70 cm

assembly copy


What are the values of a copy or a replica in comparison to the original work or other copies of selected original?

Case study: Robert Wilhelm Ekman: St. Mary Magdalene in Penitence, copy after Pompeo Batoni