Traveling Mary: Multiplication and Dissemination of Miraculous Images of Mary in the Hispanic World

Nora Guggenbühler, M.A.

In the seventeenth century, the veneration of miraculous images of Mary had long since become a global phenomenon. This is epitomized by Wilhelm Gumppenberg’s second edition of the Atlas Marianus (1672), in which reports of over 1200 miraculous images from all over the world are compiled. Many of these images travelled far to arrive at their destined location and receive due veneration. In addition, in the age of confessionalization, the distribution of copies was used extensively to expand and consolidate the veneration of Mary and the corresponding cultic sites in both the Old and the New World. But even though the miraculous image has been the focus of international art historical research since Belting (1990) and Freedberg (1989), a systematic presentation of the roles of copies of these images within regional and transregional cult topographies of the early modern era is still lacking. The dissertation project therefore aims to examine the copying of miraculous Marian images and to show how these replicas were deployed as potent agents in generating the religious, political and economic interconnections of places within the Hispanic world. The starting point of the research project is the Madonna di Trapani, from which different types of copies were produced in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, circulating actively between Sicily, Spain and Latin America. Other images and their copies crossing the paths of the Trapanitana will be consulted for the investigation and the resulting globally interconnected cult topographies will be negotiated with regard to the question of original and copy as well as to the particularly in transcultural art history discussed problem of center and periphery.

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