Translations, Appropriations, and Copies of Paintings at the Dawn of Mass Culture in the United States, circa 1900


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History


Reproductions of paintings played many roles in the United States from the eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth century, as agents of European culture, as part of the social function and practice of portraiture, and as educational tools. Yet, beginning in the 1870s, as colleges developed art history departments and museums defined their missions, the critical response to copies fluctuated among ambivalence, praise, and condemnation. This study investigates the copy/original polarity around 1900 with case studies addressing displays of painted copies in museums, photographs of works of art in college art departments, forgeries of trompe l'oeil paintings, tableaux vivants, and early films, offering new perspectives on the copy's oscillating critical status today.