Michael Petry: Assistants were always used by the greats


Most artists neither grind their own pigments nor make the canvas they use. The notion of the studio and assistants goes back hundreds of years.

The 17th-century sculptor Bernini had most of his marble statues carved by assistants who only used his small models – including his Apollo and Daphne (1622-25), which was carved by Giuliano Finelli. They fell out over Finelli's lack of credit in its production.

Rembrandt and Joshua Reynolds (founder of the Royal Academy) also had assistants paint large parts of many of their works. More recently, Hepworth and Moore bronzes were made by foundry workers from small models, hardly any different from Damien Hirst and his bronzes. Hirst is happy to hand over an object to be made on a massive scale. Like other artists, he is unlikely to credit his assistants. But in the end, the artwork is still his.