Attila, We could make up imaginary scenarios all day long, but there is no need to, the world is full of old bonsai.
As mentioned, John Naka's Goshin has changed and been under the care of a few different people, but is will always be John Naka's creation. - https://www.bonsai-nbf.org/site/north_american.html
Masaru Yamaki's "Hiroshima Survivor" is a Japanese White Pine that has been around for generations before being donated to what is now the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum. Countless caretakers have worked on this tree, they all have left a slight mark but the tree remains a creation of Masaru Yamaki. - https://www.bonsai-nbf.org/site/japanese2.html
Attila Soos wrote:
I don't think that the comparison is fair. When restoring a famous painting, the restaurators have accurate and extensive guidelines to follow. They have detailed records, as to how the work should look like.
Shinji Suzuki took on the task of maintaining (restoring) a famous Tokugawa bonsai and was very careful not to restyle, but to restore. Does he get the credit for creation? No, just for the Restoration. - http://www.internationalbonsai.com/ibm/ ... rticle.pdf
There are detailed records of bonsai restorations also, the tree itself often holds the record in the form of branch placement, scars, grafts, etc and there are often even photos, Larz Anderson's collection is documented quite well, even considering the age of the trees.
Speaking of Larz, here's an example for Attila,
The Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection at Harvard is home to trees imported from Japan around 1913, when he died in 1937 the collection was donated to Harvard, later after his wife's death the remaining trees went there as well. No one knew how to care for them, many tried and many trees were lost but eventually things came around on about 1962 and the trees were cared for and maintained well enough for them to survive. Here, some 90 plus years later, guess who gets the credit? BUT he didn't create them!
Some of the bonsai like the Hinoki Cypress were started in 1787, the original creator's name is lost to history, so the collector received the credit. However,since we dealing with such old trees where the information of the creator has been lost, the absence of the credit is forgivable, especially since Larz never claimed, nor does the collection now lead anyone to believe that these were his creations.
- http://www.arboretum.harvard.edu/plants ... intro.html
It is also interesting to note that all the collections such as the national Collection attribute the creation to the artist, when known and not to the following caretakers, no matter what maintenance or changes are made and no matter if the original artist is known or not.
I think the major difference we have here is that some are talking about antibody's bonsai, where I am talking about the high quality pieces that make the grade as art. Napkin holders and ashtrays at a craft show are seldom signed by the artist, they are so common, no one really cares, they are not unique pieces of art...on the other hand wildlife paintings sold at the same show are signed and often are considered art.