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“Doppelgänger”, or look- alike works, have existed in the collection in Vienna since the beginning of the seventeenth century, when Emperor Rudolf II commissioned his court painter Joseph Heintz the Elder to make a copy of Parmigianino’s Cupid Sharpening his Bow (1535). For a long time original and copy were displayed beside each other in the Imperial treasury, where they became one of the highlights of the collection. A myth sprung up around the paintings, claiming Heintz died in despair of never equaling Parmigianino in his art.

The Picture Gallery invited you to have a closer look at the Doppelgänger. A selection of paintings will be displayed with look- alikes from the museum’s store, many of which have rarely been seen before. Visitors are encouraged to decide for themselves what differentiates an original work and its copy. Can we, for example, still relate to Max Friedländer’s 1942 comparison of the original as ‘organism’ and the copy as ‘machine’?

Further questions concern the various aspects of the art of copying: does a copyist in the artist’s workshop paint differently from someone who copies a work over a hundred years after its original completion? Is a copy made for documentary purposes executed differently from one conceived purely as an artistic endeavor? How much freedom of interpretation can a copyist allow himself? Why are copies made in the first place?

Masterpieces by Titian, Tintoretto, Parmigianino, Albrecht Dürer, Jan Sanders van Hemessen and Jan Brueghel the Elder will be displayed with their look- alikes in Rooms I, III, XII and XV, and in Cabinets 2 and 14. To encourage the visitor to come up with their own conclusions, original and copy are not identified on their display labels. The ‘solutions’ to all Doppelgänger can be found in Room XII.


6 November 2012
to 25 June 2013

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