Art types, what was this painting I saw?

At work today I went out to a client’s house to perform a notarization and while I was waiting for his assistant to grab something from the other room I noticed a painting on the wall. I’m not an art afficianado, but I know enough to know it was Van Gogh’s Starry Night on the Rhone. I was rather curious if this guy (no, I won’t name names, but the vast majority of Doper’s would know who he is) actually had an original Van Gogh in his dining room, I did some Googling and found that a)the painting is in Paris at the Musée d’Orsay and b)is 72.5 x 92 cm (28.5 x 36.25 inches).

The painting (which was definetly a painting, not a print or lithograph; the brush strokes had different depths of paint, for one) I saw was about 10 x 14 inches and not in Paris, so what was it? Is there a market of smaller size painted copies of paintings? Did Van Gogh make a scale model before the full painting?

Lots of artists make reproductions of other art. There are art forums on the internet where artists give each other projects to copy famous works, mainly as an exercise to learn how the masters used brush strokes and such. Van Gogh is a very popular painter to copy. And some of the reproductions that people do even just for personal fun are astonishingly good.

I visit *le Musée d’Orsay *every time I’m in Paris, and that painting is always there. There’s never a sign saying that the painting is on loan to some guy’s dining room in California (after shrinking it).

And the colors of the original are way better than any reproduction I’ve seen.

Not only that, but there’s businesses based around hiring artists to copy other artists and selling the paintings. I saw a catalogue for it once.

There are companies that sell ‘paintings’ which are basically reporductions printed into canvases prepared with thick paint-strokey-textured gesso or something similar to get that 3-d impasto effect. I think they’re called ‘canvas transfers’ and probably purport to be done individually by hand (perhaps the gesso application?-- I’m not sure how these are made exactly). Unlikely that it’s really even a hand-done copy.

Ahh. I didn’t know about the market for copies of paintings. That must be what it was.

In any case, it was still an excellent painting. One of the few that I’ve liked enough to look at for more than a few minutes. I was actually kind of dissapointed that I had to go. If I’m ever in Paris, I’ll have to make a point of seeing the original.

I get the Basil St. Gallery catalog of art reproductions in the mail. Too expensive for me, but it’s interesting to look through. I’ve checked their catalog online, and they have that painting in various sizes (if you have $200-$500 to spend on it):

A thrill I get from seeing Van Gogh’s originals is the texture and technique of slathering the paint that he used. The colors are always more vibrant than in copies, but the texture… wow! To properly reproduce those, I woudl guess that the copy woudl have to be done by hand instead of by mechanical means.

There are quite a few Chinese companies that have artists in their employ that regularly make copies of public domain (usually!) paintings. Prices for a 24x36 at wholesale range from $20 to $100 or so, depending on quality.

Beyond the 100% handpainted items, there are two other methods for making canvas articles: printing directly on canvas using a giclee printer (I use an Espon 7600), or making a canvas transfer (basically: a sticky film is put over the image side of a print, then soaked in water, which allows the removal of the paper backing. The film, which now contains the image, is laminated or glued to a canvas backer in a heat vacuum press).