Multiples in Pre-Modern Art
In the last years replicated objects have gained an increasingly central position in the discourse about ancient, medieval and early modern art. ›Multiples‹, we are often told, lack uniqueness, invention, autonomy, and sometimes even authorship. Indeed, ›multiples‹ can be powerful multipliers – in that they enhance the ›aura of the originals‹ that they replicate – but they remain secondary indexes pointing to an ›original‹ imbued with significance. Yet, what happens if ›multiples‹ do not refer to other artifacts at all, or if they are associated with other ›multiples‹ rather than with a first version in the mind of their owners? What happened when serially-made ›multiples‹ were not quite identical to each other, as was the rule with pre-modern artifacts? What shaped their identity and the perception of them as identical?
This collection of essays explores different forms of interaction between the making of artifacts in more than one specimen and their reception before the nineteenth century. It addresses media such as metal, wax, plaster, terracotta, textiles, marble, ivory, porcelain, canvases and tables in an attempt to re-assess the current identification of the mediality of prints with that of pre-modern ›multiples‹ in general.