Raphael and the Material Turn: the Role of Technical Analysis since 1983
Tiffany Lynn Hunt
In his 2013 book, Art History after Modernism, Hans Belting argued that scientific analysis threatened “the end of art history” by reducing art to mere technical data. Taking Belting’s critique as a point of departure, this paper examines the role of technical analysis, particularly of Raphael’s oeuvre, in shaping the overall material turn. If Cecil Gould’s x-ray analysis of the Portrait of Julius II highlighted the value of science in 1970, and the Princeton Raphael Symposium established its methodological significance, this paper explores what has happened since, arguing that a newly vested interest in “materiality” has been shaped by the discipline’s incorporation of a post-technical turn. This historiography analyzes the effect of the contributions by Roy and Spring (Raphael’s Painting Technique, 2007), Santopadre (Galatea, 2012), Rodriguez Simón (Madonna di Foligno, 2015), and others in shaping the trajectories of Raphael analyses, and informing a material-focused discourse that supports traditional methodologies.