Imitation and Emulation?


This should go into quotes but it’s way too long.

Ummm…I have trouble with both these words in general…Lets use the word “admiration” instead…So I ran across this today:

Having first practiced drawing for a while as I have taught you above, that is on a little panel, take pains and pleasures in constantly copying the best things which you can find done by the hand of great masters. And if you are in a place where many good masters have been, so much the better for you. But I give you this advice: take care to select the best one every time, and the one who has the greatest reputation. And as you go on from day to day, it will be against nature  if you do not get some grasp of his style and of his  spirit.  for if you undertake  to copy after one  master today and after another one tomorrow, you will inevitably, through enthusiasm, become capricious, because each style will be distracting your mind.  You will try to work in this man’s way today, and in the others tomorrow, and so you will not get either of them right.  If you follow the course of one man through constant practice, your intelligence would have to be crude indeed for you not to get some nourishment  from it.   Then you will find, if nature has granted you any imagination at all, that you will eventually acquire a style individual to yourself, and it cannot help being good; because your hand and your mind, being always accustomed to gather flowers, would ill know how to pluck thorns.


Cennino Cennini, The Craftmans Handbook (il libro dell’ arte) ca. 1400 

 translated byDaniel V. Thompson Jr.

My take:

The best way to learn or master is to study ones work you “admire” so that you may be able to establish your own or build on ones technique…but I question his take on “finding the best” or one with a “reputation” of great works?  Whats wrong with having range?


One Response to “Imitation and Emulation?”

  1. Adam Roper said

    I agree. A range of influence is great source of creativity.

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