Celebratory dates, in art history, are usually occasions to re-evaluate an artist’s work and historiography. At the same time, these celebrations, be they exhibitions, congresses, publications or even commercial exploitation, reflect the social and cultural concerns of the societies that promote them.
The 500th anniversary of Raphael’s death, in 2020, was directly affected by the Covid 19 pandemic. Congresses and exhibitions were postponed and with the extended duration of this public health threat, the solution was found in media tools: videos, interactive websites, online exhibitions and publications. This book and the congress that originated it are part of this context but also represent a reflection on virtual and mediated aesthetic experiences, such as those which marked Raphael’s festivities.
The articles presented in this volume focus on reproductions and the reception of Raphael and his art. The debate around replication touches on several aspects of visual studies.
From a manual copy to digital photographic reproductions, these images concern debates about image circulation, aesthetic mediation, museological and curatorial registry, cultural constructions and, very often, instrumentalization of an original work and its multiple values. The studies included in this volume cover many of these aspects, focusing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, before the advent of the digital image. This period marks the development of the idea of high fidelity in art reproductions as well as the widespread diffusion of popular, cheap images related to art history.