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'What is an early modern viral image?'

Stephanie Porras (Tulane University)

Porras will present her new book, The First Viral Images: Maerten de Vos, Antwerp print and the early modern globe (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2023), which traces the complex production and reception histories of an illustrated book, a painting and an engraving, all made in Antwerp in the late sixteenth century, but copied by Venetian print publishers, Spanish and Latin American painters, Mughal miniaturists and by Filipino ivory carvers. Porras uses Internet virality as a critical framework for considering early modern artworks’ global mobility and replication, attending to the role of artistic labour, gatekeepers, infrastructures and social networks, in order to reassess art’s role in the uneven processes of globalization. In reconstructing the viral trajectories of select designs, Porras tests and contests several analytical models that have dominated art historical scholarship of the global early modern, putting pressure on art historical notions of copying and agency, context and viewership. 

Stephanie Porras is Professor of Art History at Tulane University. A specialist in the visual and material cultures of early modern Northern Europe, the global Spanish and Dutch empires, she is the author of Pieter Bruegel’s Historical Imagination and Art of the Northern Renaissance. She is currently Reviews Editor for the Art Bulletin, and Chair and on the editorial board of the Nederlands Yearbook for History of Art/Nederalnds Kunsthistorisches Jaarboek.

This event is part of the Director's Seminar Series, which brings leading scholars and writers to the Institute to share new work and fresh perspectives on key issues in their fields.


Wine reception to follow.