Online Lecture: “Not a Copy” – ‘The Power of Duplication: Medieval Persian Painting through Photographs, ca. 1890- 1920’, Yuka Kadoi (Institute of Art History, University of Vienna), 28th April 2021 17:30-19:00 (BST)


During the formative period of Persian art history in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, photographic reproductions played a key role in the construction process of chronological and iconographical narratives. This paper explores an alternative history of medieval Persian painting by looking at the production and distribution of photographic reproductions. Often commissioned by dealers, such visual materials were widely circulated and distributed across collectors and scholars for identification, authentication and comparative research purposes. While the power of photographic reproductions in the early scholarship and connoisseurship of European art history is widely acknowledged, this should also be the case with non-European art history, including Persian art history, a topic which this paper wishes to address.

This annual lecture series is organised by the international research project Bilderfahrzeuge: Aby Warburg’s Legacy and the Future of Iconology. Entitled “Not A Copy,” this year’s series seeks to discuss the advent of new forms of visual expression in response to preceding artefacts and following from an interplay with their materiality and mediality. Humanities tend to reduce these dynamics to a dichotomy of a supposed ‘original’ and its ‘copy’. By doing so, the productive quality of transformation is often overlooked, whereas terms such as imitation, emulation, repetition, transmission, translation or recording are in continuous need of critical re-evaluation.

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Published by Ellie Wilson

Ellie Wilson holds a First Class Honours in the History of Art from the University of Bristol, with a particular focus on Medieval Florence. In 2020 she achieved a Distinction in her MA at The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she specialised in the art and architecture of Medieval England under the supervision of Dr Tom Nickson. Her dissertation focussed on an alabaster altarpiece, and its relationship with the cult of St Thomas Becket in France and the Chartreuse de Vauvert. Her current research focusses on the artistic patronage of London’s Livery Companies immediately pre and post-Reformation. Ellie will begin a PhD at the University of York in Autumn 2021 with a WRoCAH studentship, under the supervision of Professor Tim Ayers and Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein.

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