During the Grand Tour often the wealthy would visit archeological sites with their tutors to be educated on the historical relevance of the site. Some would be so interested in the artifacts that they would have a piece of the statue removed to take home or in some cases the entire statue. When back home the sculptures would attract so much attention that other friends and family would want the same piece. With the increasing demand for the archeological finds, reproduction began to emerge. The current owners would hire artisans to replicate the original so they could then sell the piece whist keeping the genuine one for themselves. Today original sculptures are extremely rare and cannot be purchased, but the reproductions of the earlier centuries have come to hold immense value to due quality and care the artist invested in the pieces.
A highly important roman marble statue of venus, of medici type
circa late 1st/mid-2nd century A.D., A roman copy after a hellenistic original of 2nd century B.C.
Sold on Christie’s for $11,644,249
Because the reproduction pieces were done by hand by relevant artists of that time there was a large value placed on the sculptures. Obviously 1st century A.D. would be slightly more valuable than the 19th century reproductions but the price was also reflected in the authenticity and craftsmanship of the artist.
A fine 18th century Italian pair of painted bronze figures of the furietti centaurs, by Giacomo Zoffoli, signed.
Sold on Sotheby’s for 156,750 EUR.
Unfortunately today the art of reproduction is dying, with rare sculptures being created out of moldings and produced by machinery, no longer will they hold the same value they once did. The craftsmen are machines and origins are no longer France or Italy, but China or the Philippines. Ones desire for quality has been trumped by the convenience of price and accessibility.
A pair of greek reproduced statues.
Thankfully there is an industry that seeks to preserves the artisan reproductions found in off the beaten path antique stores, galleries, and collectors homes, quality reproductions have not disappeared, they are just becoming more valuable.
You can view our collection of sculptures here.