Mar 212024

One curiosity in the permanent collection of Guadalajara’s Instituto Cultural Cabañas is this pretty painting by Ignacio Ramírez titled “Vista de Chapala.” The painting is dated 1986, even though the view it depicts is clearly from many decades earlier, as evidenced, for example, by the absence of Casa Braniff (completed in 1905) and of several other significant early landmarks along the lake’s shoreline.

Ignacio Ramírez. 1986. Vista de Chapala. Credit: Instituto Cultural Cabañas.

Ignacio Ramírez. 1986. Vista de Chapala. Credit: Instituto Cultural Cabañas.

What struck me when I first came across this painting is that is almost identical to (perhaps based on?) a much earlier painting by Paul (‘Pablo’) Fischer, which dates back to about 1900. Born in Germany, Fischer (1864-1932) trained as a doctor before moving to Mexico to administer an inheritance, where he worked in Durango for a few years before marrying a Mexican girl in 1895. Spending extended vacations dedicated to his art, Fischer traveled with his family widely across Mexico, painting as he went, and is known to have completed several paintings of Chapala.

Paul Fischer. c 1900. View of Chapala.

Paul Fischer. c 1900. View of Chapala.

I don’t know where the original Paul Fischer painting now is, but it was reproduced, with the artist’s permission, as a postcard—including Fischer’s near-invisible monogram embossed into its design—at the start of the twentieth century by Juan Kaiser, a Guadalajara-based publisher.

Did Ignacio Ramírez base his 1986 painting on Fischer’s original work or a Kaiser postcard of the painting? Or did he have some other source for his inspiration? If Ramírez’s work is derivative of Fischer’s much earlier painting, how does this affect its merit for inclusion in a museum’s permanent collection?

Lake Chapala Artists & Authors is reader-supported. Purchases made via links on our site may, at no cost to you, earn us an affiliate commission. Learn more.

My 2022 book Lake Chapala: A Postcard History uses reproductions of more than 150 vintage postcards to tell the incredible story of how Lake Chapala became an international tourist and retirement center.

Comments, corrections and additional material are welcome, whether via the comments feature or email.

  4 Responses to “Can a copy have as much merit as an original painting?”

  1. Wow–Mr. Burton–what a question/mystery

  2. TAL VEZ EL PINTOR INTENTO EVOCAR OTRO TIEMPO, PREVIO A LA EDIFICACION DE LA CASA BRANIFF, solo hay que corroborar si antes de esto ya estaba totalmente terminada la iglesia…..puede ser

    • Estoy de acuerdo en que el pintor debe haber estado tratando de evocar una época temprana, pero su pintura de 1986 es inquietantemente similar en composición a la pintura que Paul Fischer terminó unos ochenta años antes. Un saludo, TB.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.