A copy of a work of art that is virtually indistinguishable from the original

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  • Marcel Duchamp, 'Fountain' 1917, replica 1964
    Marcel Duchamp
    Fountain 1917, replica 1964
    Porcelain
    © Succession Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002
  • Naum Gabo Construction in Space ‘Crystal’ 1937 and Spiral Theme 1941
    Naum Gabo
    Construction in Space ‘Crystal’ 1937 and Spiral Theme 1941
    Two cellulose acetate sculptures chosen as subjects for the pilot study
  • Naum Gabo Construction in Space ‘Crystal’coloured to show the different sections from which this sculpture has been constructed
    Naum Gabo
    Construction in Space ‘Crystal’
    coloured to show the different sections from which this sculpture has been constructed
  • Marcel Duchamp, 'The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass)' 1915-23, reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6, lower panel remade 1985
    Marcel Duchamp
    The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) 1915-23, reconstruction by Richard Hamilton 1965-6, lower panel remade 1985
    © Richard Hamilton and Succession Marcel Duchamp/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002

Unlike a fake, a replica is not trying to pass for the original and is often made by the artist and used for historical and educational purposes. The vogue for collecting replicas reached the height of popularity in the mid to late nineteenth century when few people could afford to travel on the Continent, so museums acquired reproductions of important monuments and works of art to complement their collections.

Replicas in modern art are made as a result of original works of art decaying or being lost. Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, the most famous of the artist’s readymade sculptures, was replicated in collaboration with Duchamp from a photograph of the lost original.

Tate holds the largest collection of plastic sculptures by Naum Gabo, but despite controlled storage conditions, many of these works are cracking and warping. Computer software can be used to help virtually restore the sculpture models, so that replicas can be made of the originals.