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    Photographs of sculpture: Greek slave’s ‘complex polyphony’, 1847 - 1877

    Di Bello, Patrizia (2016) Photographs of sculpture: Greek slave’s ‘complex polyphony’, 1847 - 1877. 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century 2016 (22), ISSN 1755-1560.

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    Abstract

    This article explores some of the representations, iterations, and appearances of Hiram Powers’s Greek Slave in London in the decades after its first exhibition in 1845, years in which a variety of new ‘engines of the fine arts’ were fuelling a widening market for art objects of all kinds, and popular culture could turn statues into celebrities appearing everywhere — exhibitions, photographers’ studios, newspapers, tableau-vivant shows, even confectionery shops. The article’s focus is on how sculpture was used in the reception and understanding of photography as a new medium of reproduction, and how the materiality of specific photographic ‘objects’ — daguerreotypes, paper prints, and stereographs — interacted with that of sculpture to affect the viewer, at a time when sculptural objects themselves blurred the boundaries between original and reproduction. The article ends with an analysis of stereoscopic cards of Greek Slave, as the first photographic reproductions that could really compete with wood engravings and statuettes in the dissemination and circulation of statues, arguing for their pleasurable interactivity as key to their success.

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