An analysis of iconography in art history

In the mid-seventh century to the early fifth, life-sized standing marble statues of young women, often elaborately dress in gaily painted garments were created known as korai. The earliest korai is a Naxian women to Artemis. The statue wears a tight-fitted, belted peplos, giving the body a very plain look. The earliest korai wore the simpler Dorian peplos, which was a heavy woolen garment.

An analysis of iconography in art history

Writing About Art Iconographic Analysis Considering a work of art in terms of the life of the person who made it creates one kind of historical context.

There are many other ways to relate a work to history, though, involving different elements of the period from which it came. One of them is an iconographic analysis, which establishes the meaning a work of art had at the time it was made.

This may or may not include what the maker of the work intended or, usually a more important factor, what the person who paid for the work wanted.

Any particular time or place provides different possible audiences, each of which will demand specific kinds of information and make certain assumptions. The iconographic argument always depends upon assembling historical evidence to reconstruct these things.

Like all types of art historical analysis, an iconographic analysis must begin with what can be seen in the object or objects being considered. On the basis of these observations, the objects are related to other visual images and, probably, texts.

This process may involve considerable historical research in primary sources and many languages, or a single reference to an authoritative secondary source. The result may be more than one interpretation.

If they are mutually exclusive, the historian and the reader must decide which one seems most convincing. More often, though, different interpretations address different aspects of the work, so all of them can be historically accurate.

In the easiest case, a work of art depicts a subject that can be identified by anyone who knows what to look for. A handful of scenes from the life of Jesus, for example, appear again and again in Christian art. Just a few details are all it takes to turn a picture of a woman and an angel into an Annunciation, or a mother and a baby in a stable into a Nativity scene.

Images like these were meant to be understood by many people, and they use well-established traditions that lasted for centuries. Research is needed to understand how a particular example differs from others and why that matters, or who created it and who paid for it, but the basic subject is clear.

An analysis of iconography in art history

Something for which there is no known context, on the other hand, or that describes private feelings of the artist or patron, may be very hard to interpret.

Any iconographic analysis must explain as many visual elements in a work as possible.

An analysis of iconography in art history

Why this delayed recognition? What inhibited th[is] perception, which now seems so overwhelmingly obvious. Ours is by nature a pejorative eye, better adapted to registering a mismatch than agreement. Panofsky brought his immense learning to the study of many subjects, but most of all to the study of Renaissance art.

In Early Netherlandish Painting, he argued for a very particular way of understanding pictures made in Northern Europe during the 15th century.

We have to ask ourselves whether or not the symbolical significance of a given motif is a matter of established representational tradition. The laver and basin. The lions on the armrest of her bench bring to mind the Throne of Solomon.

And the candlestick, supporting the candle. For the informed viewer, this includes not only a reminder of all the events that are to come, but also their ultimate significance. These dimensions change the painting from one that tells a single story, a narrative painting, to one that alludes to the most profound truths of Christianity.

The kneeling donors shown in the left panel offer a model of response for the viewer, as reverent witnesses to the founding event of the religion.

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Panofsky used the same method to interpret Northern Renaissance paintings that did not have religious subjects. If this is the meaning of the scene, then many individual details take on new meaning: We begin to see that what looks like nothing but a well-appointed upper-middle-class interior is in reality a nuptial chamber, hallowed by sacramental associations and often sanctified.

It is not by chance that the scene takes place in a bedroom instead of a sitting room, for the matrimonial bed was so sacred that a married couple in bed could be shown and visited by the Trinity.

The fruit on the window sill recalls. The little statue of St. Margaret, surmounting the back of the chair near the bed, invokes the patron saint of childbirth. The dog, as seen on so many tombs of ladies, was an accepted emblem of marital faith.

We may regard the immediate genesis of the picture as the devising of a delightful ensemble on the theme of the spring months over which Venus and Mercury preside. We may even make the more specific proposal that the ensemble was devised as a gift to celebrate the politically motivated wedding in of Lorenzo with Semiramide Appiani.

In this reading of Primavera, allusiveness and indirect references to things the painting does not show are as much a part of the intended meaning as the elements that actually appear in the composition.Before and after the Second World War, Formalism and Marxism, softened semantically to the “social” approach to art history, were the dominant modes of art history methodology, but, due to its political connections, Marxism waned and Panofsky’s iconography moved to the fore.

Art history and psychoanalysis are interdisciplinary subjects that rely on imagery for their very existence. Works of art are, by definition, images, whether these are two- or three-dimensional.

Psychoanalytic interpretation, both clinical and as applied to other fields, deals with the observation and analysis of imagery: in dreams, symptom. Iconographic Analysis.

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Considering a work of art in terms of the life of the person who made it creates one kind of historical context. There are many other ways to relate a work to history, though, involving different elements of the period from which it came.

If you need more examples of how art history can be done, read articles in Art Bulletin or Art Journal or one of the many other journals available in the field.

The list of sources cited in the bibliography of your textbook (if you have one) may provide another way to understand the various approaches in art history.

Iconography Iconography, in art history, the study of subject matter in art. The meaning of works of art is often conveyed by the specific objects or figures that the artist chooses to portray; the purpose of iconography is to identify, classify, and explain these objects.

Art history and psychoanalysis are interdisciplinary subjects that rely on imagery for their very existence. Works of art are, by definition, images, whether these are two- or three-dimensional.

Psychoanalytic interpretation, both clinical and as applied to other fields, deals with the observation and analysis of imagery: in dreams, symptom.

Iconology - Wikipedia