Hold! You crafty ones, strangers to work, and pilferers of other men’s brains! Think not rashly to lay your thievish hands upon my works. – Albrecht Dürer
Can you tell the difference between the genuine article and a fake? All too important when Christmas shopping, but branding has been around for far longer than I expected. Albrecht Dürer’s famous ‘AD’ monogram was the subject of one of the first copyright lawsuits – in 1506 he travelled to Venice to sue Marcantonio Raimondi who had copied the recently published series, “Life of the Virgin”. To my surprise the outcome was that Raimondi was found guilty of plagiarism by using Dürer’s monogram, but not for copying his work. The copying of famous works was a well-established practice at the time; Raimondi was a skilled engraver who had become recognised for his copies of famous artworks, notably collaborating with Raphael, although his career hit a low when he was imprisoned for a series of erotic prints.
These two engravings are from our collections, entitled ‘The Virgin on the Crescent with a Crown of Stars and a Sceptre”. One is by Albrecht Dürer, the other is an unattributed copy – can you tell which is which?
Dürer original: The Virgin on the Crescent with a Crown of Stars and a Crescent, Print, 1516, Albrecht Dürer, accession number P.3008 (copyright see Whitworth)
Gift of George Thomas Clough, 1921.
Copy: The Virgin on the Crescent with a Crown of Stars and a Crescent, Print, No date, Unattributed, accession number 4786.2 (copyright see Whitworth)
Bequest of William Sharp Ogden, 1926.