Amal Dagher (in his studio near Paris) has copied hundreds of works at the Louvre over the past 30 years.
“Ever since the museum opened its treasures to public view in 1793 (one of the benefits of the French Revolution), it has allowed, even encouraged, artists to hone their skills by copying the masterpieces in its collections. Thousands have done so, including great classical painters from Turner to Ingres, Impressionists from Manet to Degas, and modernists like Chagall and Giacometti. “You have to copy and recopy the masters,” Degas insisted, “and it’s only after having proved oneself as a good copyist that you can reasonably try to do a still life of a radish.”
When 23-year-old Marc Chagall arrived in Paris in 1910 from Russia, he went there directly from the train station, suitcase in hand. “Going to the Louvre is like reading the Bible or Shakespeare,” he later said. Paul Cézanne regularly trekked there to copy Michelangelo, Rubens and classical Greek and Roman statues. “The Louvre is the book where we learn to read,” he declared.” Smithsonian Magazine