While Faulkner implored us not to try to better others, therefore not copying their work, Leonardo DaVinci was once quoted as telling young apprentices to copy the masters until you feel our own style emerge. He learnt this in his own apprenticeship
“Under Verrocchio’s tutelage, da Vinci probably progressed from doing various menial tasks around the studio to mixing paints and preparing surfaces. He would have then graduated to the study and copying of his master’s works. Finally, he would have assisted Verrocchio, along with other apprentices, in producing the master’s artworks”. https://www.leonardodavinci.net/
I believe it is wise to look at what was done before, and now with our increased knowledge and techniques, we can improve on what has come before. We ourselves can get better by practice and we do not need co compare ourselves to others, we can compare ourself now to how we were before and see how we have improved.