International workshop

Engraving, Plaster Cast, Photograph – Chapters from the History of Artwork Reproduction

International workshop in Budapest, 27 August 2020

Photos from the wokshop

The international workshop was an event accompanying the exhibition about the history of artwork reproduction organized in the Lutheran Central Museum in Budapest between 26 March, 2020 and 31 August, 2020. Foreign and Hungarian scholars presented the different areas of the history of artwork reproduction, from the Renaissance engraving copies of paintings to plaster casts and the photographs created of relics of architecture and fine arts. The directors of a few reproduction collections presented the history and details of their collection.


Casts of Thousands: The Reproduction of Late Antique and Byzantine Ivories in the Nineteenth century

Dr. Helen Rufus-Ward

The casting of plaster models of sculptural art works was undertaken on a massive scale in the nineteenth century. Amongst the objects reproduced in plaster cast were small carved ivories which were known as fictile ivories.  This paper traces British nineteenth-century institutional collecting of fictile ivories and considers the didactic way such plaster copies were used to underpin the pro-classical polemic, by promoting the tripartite cyclical development of sculpture which placed periods of art such as the Byzantine firmly in a period of decline. One of the key discussion points will be an examination of the popularity of the nineteenth-century canonical reading of art history as ‘a chain of art’, with a reliance on typological classification that resulted in placing art works in a hierarchy of classes. 


Dr. Helen Rufus-Ward is an art historian with a BA, MA and an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded doctorate (DPhil) from the University of Sussex where she worked as a tutor and lecturer for 10 years.  Helen has published on Late Antique and Byzantine ivory carvings and 19th century collecting. As well as being an accredited speaker for the Arts Society, Helen holds a Higher Education Academy teaching qualification, is a member of the Society for the Promotion of Byzantine Studies and is the Chair of Eastbourne Arts Circle.

Paris Monuments in Photography and possibilities of their interpretation

Mgr. Lucia Almášiová

The Slovak National Gallery owns in its collections a valuable set of 50 photographs from the 19th century with motifs of architectural and sculptural monuments from Paris. The set got into the collections in 2016 from the private property of the Bratislava photography collector Emil Mana. Originally, however, it should come from the collection of the Austrian archduke Fridrich (1856 - 1936), who lived together with his wife Isabela in Prešporok (present-day Bratislava) from 1887. The paper briefly introduces basic research focused on identification of individual objects, used historical photographic process, verification of origin and comparison with occurrence of similar themes in other collections in Central Europe. At the same time, it will briefly introduce the possibilities of interpretation of the set within the context of the development of photography in the second half of the 19th century.


Mgr. Lucia Almášiová graduated with a master´s degree in visual arts science from the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University in Bratislava. Since 2010, she has worked at the Slovak National Gallery in Bratislava, and in 2012 was appointed curator of Photomedia Collection within the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. Since 2014 she has studied at Department of Art History at the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. She is currently concentrating on 19th century photography, photographic techniques and terminology used in the field. Ms. Almášiová has contributed to exhibition catalogues and other publications such as Renesancia fotografie 19. storočia/The Renaissance of 19th Century Photography (2014), Dve krajiny/Two Landscapes (2014), Svetlo na hrane/Light on the Edge (2014), Domáce a európske súvislosti biedermeiera/Biedermeier in Slovak and European Context (2015), Originál & kópia v múzeu/Original and Copy in Museum (2015), Vývoj kultúry východného Slovenska/Cultural Development in Eastern Slovakia (2017), Poklady Židovského múzea v Prešove/Treasures of the Jewish Museum in Prešov (2019), Zaostrené na krásu/Focused on Beauty. Karol Kállay (2019) and Zrození lidu v české kulturě 19. století/The Birth of Folks in the Czech Culture of the 19th Century (2020).

Philpot’s photographs in the Bibliotheca Hertziana as part of a growing collection for studies in art history

Dr. Regina Deckers

The Photographic Collection of the Bibliotheca Hertzina in Rome holds around 500 photographs by John Brampton Philpot of early modern drawings in the Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe degli Uffizi, resulting from his long-standing work in Florence. A large part of these photographs had probably been purchased by Henriette Hertz (1846–1913) who later founded the Bibliotheca Hertziana as research institute for Italian art. This focus on photographs of drawings from the 16th and the 17th c. seems to be indebted to her personal interest in this artistic genre and to her scholarly exchange with Ernst Steinmann (1866–1934) who as the first director of the institute methodically expanded the Photographic Collection. The extent and the range of the selected photographs turned out to be the starting point for the transformation of the foundress’s private photographic collection to one of the first collections for art-historical studies in Rome after the First World War.  

Dr. Regina Deckers currently works in the Photographic Collection at the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History. She studied Art History, Ancient History and Medieval History at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. Master thesis about Georg Raphael Donner's sculptures in the staircase of the Mirabell Palace in Salzburg. From 2001 to 2005 scientific auxiliary in the Photographic Collection at the Bibliotheca Hertziana and research for doctoral dissertation about the meaning of the veil in Baroque sculpture (Die Testa Velata in der Barockplastik. Zur Bedeutung von Schleier und Verhüllung zwischen Trauer, Allegorie und Sinnlichkeit, published 2010). From 2007 to 2009 trainee position at the National Museums in Berlin (Bode Museum/Sculpture Collection, Museum of Decorative Arts, Collection of Old Master Paintings). Research interests are sculpture and painting of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Italy (especially in Naples, Venice and Rome), Germany and Austria as well as the history of still life.

From passion to decline. Approaches to the history of reproductions in Portugal

André das Neves Afonso

There was always something about reproductions of artworks. Within the context of the international museums praxis occurred a phenomenon that had changed the initial passion for these objects to its appreciation decline. Regarding this subject we will take an overview about the Portuguese approach to this reality, particularly focusing into the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga’s reproductions collection and its history.           

Founded in 1836, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Lisbon had played a leading role on fine arts teaching and its application to industrial arts in Portugal. For that purpose, this institution sought to form a collection of fine arts and ornamental arts, including reproductions of artworks, either for academic and museum intentions. Especially from 1860s, this Academy presented some proposals for art education reform and aspired to create collections and museums, always with the issue of reproductions being present in such projects.

The National Museum of Fine-Arts and Archeology was opened by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Lisbon in 1884 and displayed part of the reproductions collection that was formed, including many sculptural, architectural and ornamental plaster casts, a small collection of fictile ivories and several electrotypes. As result of a progressive devaluation of reproductions, in the 1910s this collection was moved to the museum’s storage, and later, in the middle of the 20th century, the plasters casts were transferred to other institutions. Nowadays, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (previous National Museum of Fine-Arts and Archeology) only keeps the fictile ivories and electrotypes collections in its storage, which now opens the curtain to explore a moment of this museum history that have to be revalued and reinterpreted.


André das Neves Afonso is assistant curator of the Gold, Silver and Jewellery Collections at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (Lisbon, Portugal), where he performs various curatorial roles, namely collection management, exhibition development and research. With an M.A. in Museology and Museography, he is also a collaborating researcher at the Artistic Studies Research Center (CIEBA) of the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon. André's main research interests lie in the fields of silverware and metalware, reproductions of artworks (electrotypes, plaster casts), and the history of museums.

Teaching through great examples – unique masterpieces and reproductions from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Library, Archives and Art Collections

Anikó Bojtos

The Hungarian Royal School of Model Drawing and Draughtsmanship Teacher Training, predecessor of what is the Hungarian University of Fine Arts today, was established on May 1871.

Gusztáv Keleti (1834-1902) painter and art critic got appointed as the director, who formed the collection of the library with the help of the teachers from the very beginning. As at that time the students had only very limited opportunities to study original art works in Hungarian collections, it was vital to acquire not only books, but model drawings and reproductions of the most renowned masterpieces of European art (mostly lithographs, photomechanical prints, later photographs), as well as plaster copies of famous sculptures. The institutional reform, carried out from 1920, abolished the model drawing courses, so a huge part of the library collection lost its importance. The rediscovery of the treasures, hidden in the old furniture, happened only after 1989, and it caused a real sensation in professional circles.

The Art Collection of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts consists of more than 10.000 priceless drawings and prints, including Japanese woodcuts and an Art Nouveau placard collection. Apart from that more than 12.000 unique photographs, made by famous Hungarian and European artists, and a stunning set of optical instruments are preserved.


Anikó Bojtos studied history and art history at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University between 2005 and 2011. In 2015 she started to attend the PhD program in history of the same institution, and she is currently working on her dissertation about the Hungarian Masterclasses for Painting. In 2012 she passed the advanced level language exam in English and in 2017 she got an advanced language certificate in German as well. She is responsible for the administration and management of the Art Collections of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts since 2014, and she also takes part in the preparation for its exhibitions. As an acquisitions librarian, purchasing the foreign art books belong to her responsibilities. She is  involved in the daily tasks of the information librarians, and regularly supports the work of researchers at the university. Cultivating good exchange relationships with other libraries also belongs to her scope of activities.

Reproductive prints and religious culture in the sixteenth century

Dr. Alexandra Kocsis

Once the invention of an artist was printed in a single sheet, it had lost its original context. The image was released from the space in which it was originally intended and it was seen by hundreds of anonymous viewers. The print had to transmit a work from another context and market it in a different situation. Producing works of art for an open market and an international audience was not a new concept in the middle of the sixteenth century but reproductive prints were special exactly because of their intermediary situation. This paper presents examples from the beginnings of printed reproduction to show how the idea of transmitting a work of art developed parallel to the religious function of printed images. In the middle of the sixteenth century, more and more prints were published in the two most important centers of printmaking, Antwerp and Rome that bore inscriptions next to the printed images. Inscriptions helped the engraver and the publisher to standardise the meaning and accommodate the image according to the taste, interest, and demand of the intended audience. By looking at the texts in reproductive prints, one can discover the possible intentions behind publishing certain images and topics, their artistic, cultural, or religious messages. I believe that the phenomenon of reproductive prints can be reconsidered based on the information transmitted through the inscriptions. The analysis of these texts can reveal how the creators of the prints thought about the relation of the viewer and the image, what information they considered worth emphasising. The inscriptions can help us understand how religious and artistic functions of prints worked together in the creation of meaning. Texts and images in prints after works by Rogier van der Weyden, Raphael, Bronzino, and Michelangelo will be analysed to show the influence of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.


Alexandra Kocsis is an independent art historian and translator based in Budapest. In 2018-2019 she worked as a copy editor in the Hungarian National Gallery – Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. She graduated from the joint PhD programme of the University of Kent Canterbury and the Freie Universität Berlin in 2019; she is currently preparing her doctoral thesis, The Functions of Texts in Printed Images: Text and Image in Reproductive Prints by Hieronymus Cock, Antonio Salamanca, and Antonio Lafreri, for publication. Her research interests include the history of printmaking, on which she has published  “Recontextualizing Raphael: The Function(s) of Inscriptions in Sixteenth-Century Reproductive Prints” in the Annual of Medieval Studies at CEU (2015). In 2017, she contributed to a cataloguing project of early seventeenth-century engravings by the De Bry family in the National Maritime Museum, London. Her work on the late medieval German sculptor, Master HL was published in Jiří Fajt and Susanne Jaeger (eds.), Das Expressive in der Kunst 1500–1550. Albrecht Altdorfer und seine Zeitgenossen (Deutsche Kunstverlag, 2018).

On the margin of artwork reproduction: two examples of the use of graphic reproductions as inspiration of artworks in the 16th century

Júlia Papp

A special, marginal example of artwork reproduction is the practice of the re-use of portraits, compositions and motifs of fine arts – either as exact copies or creating different variations. Though we can see this in the 16-17th centuries most often with the easily disseminated graphic reproductions, we know of several examples where the monumental works of “high art”, such as altar-pieces, cenotaphs, large painted portraits were the ones based on wood or copper engravings.

In my presentation I will show two ways of borrowing motifs based on the portraits depicting Louis II, which appeared in Sigmund von Herberstein’s writings about his travels in Moscow, published in 1549, and in his biography published around 1550-1560.


Júlia Papp (PhD, art historian) has worked in the Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Art History as a research fellow since 2009. Her main research topics are fine arts, graphic reproductions and artwork photography in the 19th century and the history of collections. She published a book on the beginnings of artwork photography in Hungary in 2007. During the computer cataloguing of the Engraving Collection of the University Library of Budapest, she discovered 12 vintage photographs made by Roger Fenton, a pioneer of English photography. She organized an exhibition and published a catalogue about the photographs in 2008. In 2012, she published the catalogue raisonné of Johann Blaschke (1770–1833), a book illustrator in the Austrian Empire. She was the curator of the exhibition in the Petőfi  Literary Museum in Budapest titled “Chapters from the history of the education of Hungarian women” in 2014. She was the editor of the academic handbook about Hungarian fine arts in the 19th century. In 2020 she organized an exhibition about the history of artwork reproductions in the Lutheran Central Museum in Budapest.

The 19th century copies of late medieval bone saddles

Virág Somogyvári

The existence of 19th century copies of late medieval bone saddles shows the preciousness of these special object types in later periods. According to our present knowledge, there are seven saddles, which are considered to be copies or forgeries, all from the 19th century. The material of the bone saddle copies are particularly interesting: four saddles are made of wood, of which one is made of ebony, and three of ivory. Three wooden copies were made after of the same bone saddle (Possenti Saddle, MET). One among them, now in the Musée l’Armée of Paris was once owned by Napoleon III himself. This factor indicates that owning a bone saddle was a sign of real prestige, so much that even the French emperor had only a copy made several hundred years after the heyday of this type of object. The three ivory copies (two in the Louvre, and one in the MET) are also interesting considering that they were made of a more precious object, ivory, which used to be thought as the material of all the bone saddles of the 15th century. In my presentation I intend to shed light on the marginal positions of the copies of the bone saddles, as well as to problematize their origins.


Virág Somogyvári is an art historian, currently working as a junior research fellow at the Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute of Art History in Budapest.  She is also in the second year of a PhD Program at history in the Pázmány Péter Catholic University. She graduated with a master´s degree in art history from Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest in 2016, and in Medieval Studies from the Central European University in 2017. In 2015 she completed a two month internship at the Art Object Department of the Musée du Louvre. Her current research deals with 15 century bone saddles. With this topic, in 2018 she received the 2-year Isabel and Alfred Bader art historian scholarship. In 2020 she was an assistant organizer of the exhibition about the history of artwork reproductions in the Lutheran Central Museum in Budapest.

“Fictile ivories”: Plaster casts of Middle Ages Sculptures from a Florentine point of view

Benedetta Chiesi

Ivories were copied in malleable materials already in the 18th century, as we know from the correspondence of Anton Francesco Gori, the Florentine antiquarian to whom we owe the earliest corpus of late antique ivories (1759). From this source, we learn that he often commissioned plaster copies from ivory reliefs preserved in collections that were out of his reach. These copies were then sent to him for the sake of study. Such a use of plaster casts spreads widely in Europe in the 19th century.

“Fictile ivories”, as called for the first time in A Descriptive Catalogue of the Fictile Ivories in the South Kensington Museum by John O. Westwood (1876), were already known in 18th-century, but soon in Florence this use of plaster seems not to have had a florid fortune. In the Florentine Gipsoteca, we find mostly Renaissance and Modern collections of casts. In this occasion, I will try to focus on some examples of plasters casts of Middle Ages ivories and sculptures in Florence, and in particular, I shall focus on an album of photographs of “fictile ivories”, by John Brampton Philpot, recently discovered in the library of the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. This album, where are reproduced also some of the ivories in the Bargello Museum, offer the occasion to discuss the crossed-destiny of copies in plaster and photographs in the19th century, and the important role of these arts for diffusing the taste and the connoisseurship of Gothic ivories.


Dr. Benedetta Chiesi currently works as an art historian in Milan, in the Soprintendenza dei Beni Culturali, a peripheral office of the Ministero dei Beni e delle Attività Culturali e del Turismo. She graduated from the PhD programme of the University of Florence, with a thesis about the ivories sculptures in the Museo del Bargello in Florence, and she contributed to the complete catalogue of this collection. She worked with Italian and foreign museums on catalogue entries, and in 2015 she joined an international network for organising an exhibition about traveling in the Middle Ages, held in Vic, Paris and Florence (ex. Il Medioevo in viaggio 2015). Her main research areas are 14th century sculptures (especially ivory) in Italy and France, as well as 19th century collections, forgeries and copies.

The Plaster Cast Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest:

History and Future

Miriam Szőcs


The Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest once owned a large collection of plaster casts of Classical Antiquities, Medieval and Renaissance sculptures. Following the 19th-century European tendencies the collection of plaster casts was created at the foundation of the museum in 1896. The collection was formed by the transfer of the copies of Ancient Greek artworks owned from 1870s’ by the Hungarian National Museum, additionally further casts after Ancient Roman, Medieval and Renaissance works were ordered between 1902 and 1909 for the newly built museum. After the Second World War the plaster cast collection then considered invaluable was deposited in the Romanesque Hall of the museum producing here an overcrowded and tumultuous condition. As a result of rising international interest for plaster casts from the 1980’s and also because of the unsuitable storage conditions plans were made for the restoration and exhibition of the collection. Starting from 2015 the Csillag Fortress, an out of use old military construction in Komárom, was redesigned to accommodate a separate museum for the plaster casts. The lecture aims to present the history of the plaster cast collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest; in meanwhile the ongoing projects for its refurbishment will be as well in the focus. Moreover the international parallels of the project will be outlined too.


Dr. Miriam Szőcs is Head of Department of Sculptures in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. 
She is specialized in Renaissance and Baroque bronzes, and has a primary interest in the oeuvre of the eighteenth-century Austrian sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. Parallel with her work at the Museum, she continued her previous studies on Early Baroque Transylvanian Retables, with the support of the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund, obtaining her Ph.D. in this theme at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest in 2011. In 2014 she was Craig Hugh Smyth Fellow in Florence at the Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. From 2015 she is working on the project which focuses on the refurbishment of the plaster cast collection of the Museum of Fine Arts.

The photo collection of the Institute for Art History of the University of Vienna: Liturgical devices and handicrafts in 19th century photographs

Martin Engel

The collection of photographs at the Department of Art History of the University of Vienna reflects the research and teaching carried out by the Viennese scientists. Ivory art was mainly researched by Julius Schlosser and later by Hermann Filitz. In my lecture I will present some of the oldest photographs of ivory works in the context of research on religious treasure. Many of these pictures come from the estate of photographer Josef Wlha (1842-1918), who has published several illustrated books in cooperation with the Institute of Art History.


Dr. Martin Engel is an art historian who, after completing his studies, works as a research assistant at the Institute of Art History at the Free University of Berlin and at the Basel Historical Museum. Since 2004 he has headed the photo collection and the digital image archive at the Department of Art History at the University of Vienna.

Knowledge’s path: from copy to the original

Researching the former cast collection of the Budapest Metropolitan Industrial Drawing School (1886–1945)

Júlia Katona PhD 


The lecture presents the conception and art historical conclusions of the exhibition entitled Knowledge in Plaster Casts. The former cast collection of the Budapest Metropolitan Industrial Drawing School (1886-1945) held in FUGA Budapest Centre of Architecture on 4–25 October 2017.

The three groups of exhibits comprised original 19–20th century plaster casts, 18–19th century drawings from casts, and reproduced photos from the catalogue of the casting workshop of the Hungarian National Royal Higher School of Architecture dated 1904. As the price list illustrations revealed, late 19th - early 20th century cast collections for the purpose of education were visual encyclopaedias of the educational and cultural ideals of the age. Thematically, the replicas of pattern and sculpture conveyed a broad scale of mythological knowledge, culture historical information via notable figures of literature and history, as well as botanic, anatomical and geometric knowledge. The compilation of a cast collection required broad historical, culture historical and professional expertise, and the casting workshops and the cast catalogues they published mediated this common knowledge.

The exhibition and the preceding elaboration of the collection provided further art historical conclusions, of which the paper embarks on the relationship between original and copy apropos a plaster paraphrase of a 12th century stone carving from Saint Denis.


Júlia Katona (PhD) is an art historian, researcher and curator. She is the head of collection and curator at the Schola Graphidis Art Collection of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts – High School of Visual Arts, Budapest. She studied history of art at the Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest). She worked in the Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest (1995–2014). As a visiting lecturer she taught history of architecture for BA students (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, 2011–2014) and museum informatics for MA students (Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, 2012–2014). Her fields of interests span across (1) research: ornamental art, theory of ornament, pattern books, rare book collections, plaster cast collections, history of architecture in the 19th–20th centuries, history of art education, Hungarian art, and (2) museum studies: museum informatics, integrated collection management systems, digitisation, process management.

In 2016 and 2017, she did research on the history and theory of ornaments in the INHA (Institut national d’histoire de l’art), Paris as an invited researcher.

She is the member of the Europeana Network Association, the board member of ICOM Hungary, member of the ICOM CIDOC.

The case of the original print: copy, art work, strategy?

Eszter Földi


From the 1880s, began the revival of reproducing techniques wich quickly bacame popular among the artists.  Prints became an original genre due to Art nouveau’s  perception of applied arts, and the artists renewed their traditional copying techniques with a new kind of interest.  By the 1890s, colour woodcut, colour litography, etching and colour aquatint were already flourishing. These works were not the usual reproductions, replicas, but  individual compositions  that  took into account  the specifics of the technique. The multiplicative nature of the techniques took away its unique character, but at the same time it provided a cheaper, easier way  of  production and distribution. These works, called original prints (estampe originale)  were disctinguished from the copies and reproductions.  Artists and the public were persuaded by the critics and art dealers of its originality and uniqueness. At the turn of the century, creating original prints was a kind of artistic strategy to refine public taste, to improve the artists’ reputation that secured their living.


Eszter Földi is an art historian and curator of the Graphic Collection in the Hungarian National Gallery. She graduated in 1995 in art history and French literature. She graduated from the PhD programme of the Eötvös Loránd University, where her research was about the artistic graphic in Hungary between 1890 and 1914.

From 1995 she worked in the Documentary Department of the Hungarian National Gallery, from 2005 as the head of the Registration department. Between 2009 and 2019 she worked as the head of the Graphic Collection, where she currently works. From 2018 she teaches at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design.

Her research area is about 19-20th century Hungarian drawings and graphics, the art of the Symbolism, French-Hungarian artistic connections, poster art, and the history of graphic construction.


On the phenomenology of the redundant image or the loss of reproduction

Miklós Peternák

During my work at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts I use reproductions in daily manner, pictures of artworks which substitute the originals. It was Jan Amos Comenius, who proposed the use of images in such occasions, when it is not possible to show to the students the originals for some reason. Of course, in Comenius case it was not meant in artistic context. With photography a general substitute of the „grand illusion” (the visible world) became accessible. Using the first technical images it became possible to make „the first exactly repeatable pictorial statements about works of art which could be accepted as visual evidence” – words by William M. Ivins, Jr. (Prints and Visual Communication, 1952, 124.) The price of this is redundancy. With photography there is always the excess, what is natural part of the deal, even at the case of the "limited editions". With World Wide Web this redundancy lost its physical body, and the pictures in their new data form (which is always a special combination of numbers) became uncountable. In exchange, the former, paper-based, survived, material, „original” photographic reproductions of artworks became artworks themselves. The „digital image” is not an image any longer, but a code, therefore the expression „digital reproduction” has no meaning.


Photo by Dr. Brigitta Zics

Miklós Peternák has born in Esztergom, Hungary, lives in Budapest. Studied history and history of art, PhD 1994: New Media – Art and Science. He was a member of the Béla-Balázs-Studio, Budapest (1981-87) and the Indigo-Group. Head of the Intermedia Department at the Hungarian University of Fine Arts since its foundation (1991), director of C3: Center for Culture and Communication, since 1997. He has produced several films and videos during the 1980's and published numerous articles and books on media art and history. Organized several shows and events, like: Vision - Image and perception, , the Hungarian Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale , Eyeresonator, , and two exhibitions based on the historical photography collection of the Hungarian University of Fine Arts: Photo/Model – Images between Art and Nature, , Memories of Forgetting – Photo/Model 2

Gems of early photography in the Facsimile Collection at the National Széchényi Library

Judit Sebő

A set of a few hundred pieces of collotypes representing manuscript and incunable pages, illuminations, as well as book covers are kept at the National Széchényi Library (Országos Széchényi Könyvtár) in Budapest within the Facsimile Collection. This collection, initiated by a characteristic nineteenth-century principle – reproducing in order to disseminate knowledge and information, and to build up a systematized stock of documents, too - attests to the early decades of the Hungarian National Museum, cradling the holdings of the later National Széchényi Library at that time. The father of the idea to order replicas of book pages was Vilmos Fraknói, director of the library, but the duty was soon embraced by János Csontosi, the keeper of manuscripts, who recognized the importance of this enterprise. The producers of the replicas - for the most part, but not exclusively, collotypes – were among the best known Hungarian photographers of the era, like Antal Weinwurm, György Klösz, Lázár Simon Letzter, József Pataki and Károly Divald. The Facsimile Collection is cocurated by the Department of Manuscripts and the Department of Photography: the reason for this joint responsibility is that the documents, regarding their content, belong to the Department of Manuscripts, but concerning the technique they claim to be included into the history of photography. Whereas the items in the Facsimile Collection total up to somewhat more than a thousand, the exact number of the oldest pieces is still unknown. Until recently they have not been treated as museum pieces on their own but only as old copies of manuscripts and incunables preserved in various institutions worldwide or within other departments of the National Library itself. However, these reproductions embody a little-known section in the early history of the photography of artworks, and, besides this, some of them are invaluable records of manuscripts which are lurking or already perished.


Judit Sebő has graduated from Art History (2004) and Latin (2006) at the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and from 2004 until 2009 she has worked as an assistant to the curator at the Department of Prints and Drawings of the Museum of Fine Arts in the same city. These years allowed for gathering experience in the study of reproductive arts, printing workshops, the history of collections and the methods of digitization and systematization. In 2015 she received the Isabel and Alfred Bader art historical scholarship for the research and scholarly documentation of the print collection of the Móra Ferenc Museum in Szeged. This task brought further opportunities for print collection research in Esztergom (Christian Museum and Cathedral Library), Pápa (Pápa Reformed Collection) and Mosonmagyaróvár (Hansági Museum). After a few years as an independent scholar working with prints, from the summer of 2019 she has been working at the Department of Photography at the National Széchényi Library, organizing, researching and studying facsimiles and photos as part of the digitization program of the department.

International workshop