October 2, 2019 – Erin Pauwels

Assistant Professor of Art History
Tyler School of Art & Architecture
Temple University

“Consuming Copies: Napoleon Sarony & the Circulation of Nineteenth-Century Public Images”

Napoleon Sarony was among the first celebrity artists in the United States and during the late nineteenth century he was revered as the “father of artistic photography in America.” His modern legacy however has been obscured by perceptions that his work was too commercial in nature and that he was more invested in Barnumesque self-promotion than in art. This talk examines how the system of networked authorship that structured Sarony’s early career in popular lithography shaped his later priorities, and considers whether his assertion of singularity in the face of emerging mass visual culture may actually have been a radical gesture.