2015: Made In China: A Doug Fishbone Project

 

"An undoubted success" - Alistair Smart, The Daily Telegraph

Conceived by artist Doug Fishbone, Made in China saw Dulwich temporarily remove one of its paintings from its frame in the Gallery, replacing it with a replica commissioned by Fishbone and produced by one of China’s numerous exporters of handmade oil paintings. For three months the public was invited to identify the replicated painting and to submit their answers via an iPad in the Gallery. Nearly 3000 people took a guess at identifyling the rogue work - which was eventually revealed as Jean-Honore Fragonard's "Young Woman". The original was put back in its frame and hung beside the replica, exposing stylistic and material differences which set the two paintings apart.

Dr Xavier Bray, Arturo and Holly Melosi Chief Curator at Dulwich said: "It has been amazing to see our visitor numbers double in the last three months as enthusiastic ‘connoisseurs’ took up the challenge of identifying a Chinese replica among our permanent collection. Never before have I seen so many people actively looking at each painting. Now Fragonard’s portrait of a young woman has returned to the gallery walls and hangs alongside its modern companion. The visual exercise of comparing and contrasting will demonstrate how exciting it is to engage with an original work of art, but also marvel at the skill of a modern copyist working 5,000 miles away.”

The public's conoisseurial eye was fairly accurate - as can be seen from the top 5 results below:

1. Jean-Honore Fragonard - Young Woman

347

12.38%

2. Sir Peter Paul Rubens - Portrait of a Lady

159

5.67%

3. Tilly Kettle - Eliza and Mary Davidson

101

3.60%

4. Sir Peter Lely - Bartholomew Beale

85

3.03%

5. Thomas Gainsborough - A Couple in a Landscape

74

2.64%

 Conceptual artist, Doug Fishbone said:

"The project has been a very intriguing and eye-opening experience. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but if it leaves viewers with a healthy suspicion that what is presented to them may not be what it seems, and that our experiences can be manipulated in ways we are unaware of or cannot detect, it will have done something quite interesting.”

Many Old Master painters, from Titian to Rubens, encouraged the copying of their work either in their workshops by apprentices or by independent copyists. There are several examples in Dulwich’s collection including workshop paintings such as Venus and Adonis and copies painted from the original by artists visiting the Gallery such as Constable’s copy of Ruisdael’s WindmillsToday, famous paintings are being reproduced in the millions with China dominating this export market.

Co-curated by conceptual artist Doug Fishbone and Dr Xavier Bray, Arturo and Holly Melosi Chief Curator at the Gallery.

Supported by: www.artscouncil.org.uk