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Iconography of images in religious art[edit]

The iconography of images in religious art is a sub-section of iconography in general. I hope more sub-sections or topics will be added. Now it looks as if iconography is only concerned with icons in the narrower sense.S710 09:22, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

- Yes, this article seems to duplicate Icon which covers eastern christian religious images. Contrary to what is said below, iconography is the study of the CONTENT of all images, as opposed to their style, or what the artist was trying to express etc. There is precious little on this in the article at present Johnbod 20:47, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

art criticism[edit]

Iconography is an art criticism term used to analyze an artist symbols, muses or focus. It is usually a written explanation of the artist inner thoughts as it relates to what relevance an object or subject bears on creative expression itself. For example, an artist may use the piano asn expression of solitude. It is an instrument that requires a high level of self discipline and could be very isolating while learning. The piano placed in a landscape that is lacking vegetation may project an experience of isolation in a desolate setting. Dr. Jackson, Artist and Philosopher of Artistic Interpretation

Sorry but isn't there something wrong with this page?? The definition which i've gotten from art history of iconography is "the images and symbolic representations that are traditionally associated with a person or a subject" that is,not just religous art

Isn't there also a more specific sense that refers only to those icons characteristically used in Orthodox worship (Greek, Russian, etc.)?

I think that this is a variation on the art-history meaning--the catalogue of translations that apply to a specific tradition. But re-word if you want.

We could probably write something about Erwin Panofsky, and the distinction between iconography (identifying probable meanings for visual metaphors) and iconology (more like visual semiotics).

By the way, how do you add a talk page?

Like this


Yes, there is a much more specific sense that refers to the icons venerated by the Orthodox. Iconology would be the study of icons, like other "ologies". Iconography encompasses the actual writing of icons, and all that goes with it. I'm going to split up the two articles again. Wesley 02:24, 21 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Affectations in modern language[edit]

In Eastern Orthodoxy it is currently popular to make the distinction that Icons are "Written". Most likely this is a hold-over from a badly translated source. in any case, it is not only an unnecessary affectation but is likewise illiterate. Icons are painted and this in no way detracts from their symbolism or purpose. Icons are no more "Written" than photographs are written or that cartographers "write" instead of "Draw" Maps. Phiddipus 19:57, 30 Nov 2004 (UTC)


I brought back the "Symbolism" section from an old version. It may not be perfect, but I don't understand why it was completely cut. If someone still feels it should be cut, could they briefly enlighten the rest of us as to why? Thanks. 16:49, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

I remember more specifically from my experiences in Catechism (Orthodox Chruch in America) that blue represents humanity, and red, divinity. Thus Christ shown wearing blue over red (as he was Divine in nature and put on humanity), and the Theotokos Mary shown wearing red over blue, as she was by nature human, and put on divinity by giving birth to Christ.

First three sentences in Christianity section[edit]

There is no recognizably Christian art before the 3rd century.

Actually, there are cave paintings and mosaics that pre-date the 3rd century and are recognized as Christian by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches and most Protestants. They're only rejected as such by a minority of Protestants. The term "recognizably" is a subjective word. Many of the earliest icons bear the same form and themes as modern icons. See:

Theotokos and Child

Good Shepherd

Raising Lazarus


At that time the first Christian images, largely motifs borrowed from "pagan" Greco-Roman art of the time and given Christian significance, as well as Jewish motifs showing scenes from the Old Testament, begin to appear.

It's debatable whether Christian motifs were "borrowed" or merely the art style was "influenced." As noted above, these earliest styles look very much like modern Orthodox Christian icons.

Eventually Christian art began to lose its symbolic nature, and certain excesses and disputes about the nature and substance of images within Christianity began to arise.

Christian art continued to maintain symbolic representations, for example the dove for the Holy Spirit and angels for the Three Persons in the Holy Trinity. The author of this statement is probably referring to the Quinisext Council, believing it banned symbolic Christian art, when in fact it didn't. It only stated that Christ shouldn't be depicted as a lamb anymore. Here is the canon from the Quinisext Council...

"In some pictures of the venerable icons, a lamb is painted to which the Precursor points his finger, which is received as a type of grace, indicating beforehand through the Law, our true Lamb, Christ our God. Embracing therefore the ancient types and shadows as symbols of the truth, and patterns given to the Church, we prefer 'grace and truth,' receiving it as the fulfilment of the Law. In order therefore that 'that which is perfect' may be delineated to the eyes of all, at least in coloured expression, we decree that the figure in human form of the Lamb who taketh away the sin of the world, Christ our God, be henceforth exhibited in images, instead of the ancient lamb, so that all may understand by means of it the depths of the humiliation of the Word of God, and that we may recall to our memory his conversation in the flesh, his passion and salutary death, and his redemption which was wrought for the whole world." --Avraamrii 04:35, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Hey, I took out some vandalism (the always creative "penis"), from under Symbolism and replaced it with "images," which seemed to be the original intent.~Impr3ssion —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Thanks for cleaning that up. I went a little further back in the edit history and found the word should be "color" instead. Wesley 16:05, 27 April 2006 (UTC)

I'd like to delete the word "the" from the phrase "the Jews." This phrase is often considered to be mildly offensive, because it comes from a tradition in which Jews are thought to be "clannish" and able to conspire. In contrast, "the Christians" or "the Hindus" are usually not mentioned. If no one has a problem with this, I'll make this change in a week or so...if I remember.

An interesting point which I'd never considered before. I think the word "the" makes a little more sense if you take word "Jews" as an ethnic rather than religious descriptor; while you're not likely to hear "the Christians", the phrases "the Greeks" and "the Romans" occur in this article without seeming unusual. However, since the article is referring to Judaism rather than Jews as an ethnicity, I'd say your point still stands. Should we be concerned about other uses of "the" in the article? We've got "most Protestants", but "the Wahhabis" and "the Sunnis". Hard to say what someone might be offended by. 15:39, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Iconology and Iconography[edit]

For this article we need some clarification. I think it was folly to redirect the term Iconology to Iconography. By the structure of the words the meaning is clearly different. Iconology is (According to the American Heritage Dictionary) The branch of Art History dealing with the interpretation of the symbolic meaning of the content of pictures; while iconography deals more with the creation of Icons, and possibly the knowledge of “How” to use symbolism in their creation.--Phiddipus 18:45, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Yes, but the trouble is the Iconography article is almost all about icons - mostly duplicating that article. All that needs to be cleared out to either Iconology, or ideally merged into Icon , so that we can have a proper Iconography article. Johnbod 18:58, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

I second these comments. This article on Iconography has been mistakenly written around Icons. Iconography and Panofsky's Iconology should be here, with perhaps an icon as an illustration, but not every image or ikon that comes to mind. They have their own article places. --Stomme 08:21, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps Iconography is too broad a term to be handled alone. I propose we split up the information into something like: Religious Iconography, Commercial Iconography, and Psychological Iconography.--Phiddipus 15:32, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

We are somewhat at cross-, or diagonal purposes here, I think. There is a much longer article than this one on Icon (in the Othodox etc religious painting sense), and I have moved some m,aterial from this to that one already. Many Orthodox writings translated from Greek or Russian use iconography to mean "icon-painting" in English, but this is clearly no longer the primary meaning in English, and anyway is covered at Icon. This article should cover the more general senses of the word for art, which are by no means restricted to religious art, and not at all to icons. Iconology is, it seems to me, largely subsumed in Iconography in art historical usage these days in general, and this article should cover both, whilst noting the distinction. There is very little here now on "Commercial Iconography and Psychological Iconography" - there may well be other articles these that are not linked to; if not, we don't have enough to start them from here I think. I recently asked another editor who is an art historian to help here & he hoped he would at some point; meanwhile anyone else could start the process by adding sections. I attach some off the web definitions of the word:

Tate Glossary:[1] Iconography

The iconography of a painting is the imagery in it. The term comes from the Greek word ikon meaning image. An icon was originally a picture of Christ on a panel used as an object of devotion in the orthodox Greek Church from at least the seventh century on. Hence the term icon has come to be attached to any object or image that is outstanding or has a special meaning attached to it. An iconography is a particular range or system of types of image used by an artist or artists to convey particular meanings. For example in Christian religious painting there is an iconography of images such as the lamb which represents Christ, or the dove which represents the Holy Spirit. In the iconography of classical myth however, the presence of a dove would suggest that any woman also present would be the goddess Aphrodite or Venus, so the meanings of particular images can depend on context. In the eighteenth century William Blake invented a complex personal iconography to illustrate his vision of man and God, and much scholarship has been devoted to interpreting it. In the twentieth century the iconography of Picasso's work is mostly autobiographical, while Joseph Beuys developed an iconography of substances such as felt, fat and honey, to express his ideas about life and society. Iconography (or iconology) is also the academic discipline of the study of images in art and their meanings.

Columbia En (start of article): iconography (ī´´kŏnŏg´rfē) [Gr.,=image-drawing] or iconology [Gr.,=image-study], in art history, the study and interpretation of figural representations, either individual or symbolic, religious or secular; more broadly, the art of representation by pictures or images, which may or may not have a symbolic as well as an apparent or superficial meaning.

Websters 1913 Iconography \I`co*nog"ra*phy\, n. [Gr. ? a sketch or description; e'ikw`n an image + ? to describe: cf. F. iconographie.] 1. The art or representation by pictures or images; the description or study of portraiture or representation, as of persons; as, the iconography of the ancients.

2. The study of representative art in general.

Christian iconography, the study of the representations in art of the Deity, the persons of the Trinity, angels, saints, virtues, vices, etc.

Encarta: 1. set of recognized images: the set of symbols or images used in a particular field of activity such as music or the movies and recognized by people as having a particular meaning In the 1960s, peace signs, long hair, work shirts, and blue jeans were part of the iconography of rebellion.

2. symbols in painting: the symbols and images used conventionally in a genre of painting, or the study and interpretation of these symbols and images the iconography used in Renaissance paintings of the Virgin and Child

3. images of somebody or something specific: the collection, description, or study of images of somebody or something specific

-Johnbod 16:08, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

Never-The-Less, I still think it can be strongly argued that an 'ology refers to the study of a subject and an 'ography is the creation of the subject. Examples: Photography, Cartography, Biography. Also, the creation of religious icons is not some archaic artform, within the Eastern Orthodox Church it is practically a daily subject of discussion and implementation. The vast majority of Christians, Buddhists, and Hindus are very familiar with the subject. I am simply advocating that we make a disambiguation pointing out the differences and sending the reader to different pages.--Phiddipus 21:50, 4 April 2007 (UTC)
I am not sure what you are suggesting. Currently we have two articles really nearly all about Orthodox icons and the painting thereof, and no article covering iconography in its primary English sense, which as the definitions above show, is not at all restricted to religious art. Johnbod 22:16, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

As I think somebody above attempts to say Iconography is not the same of Iconology. Iconography is a study of how icons are used to convey meaning. Iconology is a wider study of icons and their use. Eg Iconography tells us that a shabby leather settee is a sign of poverty whilst iconology says we should look at the wider implications of current style and fashion to see that it says the exact opposite. (Elephant53 19:58, 23 July 2007 (UTC))

The attempt to distinguish between the two, mainly on the basis of Erwin Panofsky's theory, is I think rather losing ground in art history, and definitions vary rather, and I'm not sure they typically match your example. In any case we don't have anything like adequate articles on either. Personally I would prefer them to be taken together. Johnbod 22:09, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Feedback wanted in Islamic view on icons[edit]

Should this be included? Basically this paragraph explains that islam does not use icons. Doesn't that make the paragraph purely POV. There are lots of people who don't use icons, should all their opinions be included? I could, in theory go to every topic in every religion and include a paragraph on how the muslims don't believe in that. Who cares? --Phiddipus 00:21, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Actually it says nothing of the sort. This article is in a process of transition from being about icons to being about iconography & this section should be retained & expanded. A Buddhist section is badly needed also. Johnbod 10:44, 31 March 2007 (UTC)

Dharmic religions[edit]

The phrase dharmic religions is an obscure neologism with almost only fringe sources using it and should be removed from articles that do not describe this theoriess or their main proponents. This is not just my personal crusade to reduce use of this phrase in Wikipedia. See Wikipedia_talk:Hinduism-related_topics_notice_board#Dharmic_Religions. Andries 21:13, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Your edit was clearly not an improvement, as "Eastern religions" clealy includes the "Taoic religions (another phrase you don't like) to which the rest of the sentence would not apply. Equally your edits to other articles, just removing paragraphs where the phrase appears, are inappropriate. Johnbod 21:29, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
then what do u suggest to get rid of that obscure neologism? Andries 22:13, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
I suggest leaving it, certainly until the end of your Afd, which is the correct procedure. Johnbod 22:24, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Why wait? Using obscure neologisms in hardly related articles does not make Wikipedia better. I will argue for removal even if the article is kept. I see ur point regarding Eastern religions and I admit that I made a mistake. Andries 22:42, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Dharmic religions has now been deleted. I propose to use the alternative phrase Indian religions. The number of google scholar results for "Indian religions"+"Indian religion" is (45.600 + 84.200) while it is only (492+475) for "dharmic religions" +"dharmic religion". See Wikipedia:Deletion_review/Log/2007_September_8. Andries 19:49, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
The phrases are in no way exact equivalents. Your obstinate behaviour in this is disruptive, as many editors have told you. Inaccurate changes here will not succeed. Johnbod 21:17, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
What is the difference. I think both are list of religions i.e. Jainism, Buddhism, sikhism, and Hinduism. See theIndian religions and the following sources on dharmic religions
Frawley, David. From the River of Heaven: Hindu and Vedic Knowledge for the Modern Age. Pg 27. Berkeley, California: Book Passage Press, 1990. ISBN 1878423010. Frawley mentions only hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism as dharmic religions. [2]
Encarta encyclopedia [[3]"Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism share with Hinduism the concept of dharma along with other key concepts, and the four religions may be said to belong to the dharmic tradition."
Tharoor, Shashi in a column in The Hindu newspaper Different takes on the faith, available online
Westerlund, David Questioning the Secular State: The Worldwide Resurgence of Religion in Politics page 16 "may provide some possibilities for co-operation with Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists, who like Hindus are regarded as adherents of ‘dharmic' religions."
Andries 21:29, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
The listed sources are by the way all the reliable sources that I could find for the obscure neologism "dharmic religion". Andries 21:40, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Please do not confuse Indian religions (i.e. religions that originated in India or greater India) with religion in India. Andries 22:26, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

I think you are the one doing that, in some of your changes! Johnbod 23:37, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Iconography of Venus in Italian Art[edit]

The topical catalogue "Iconography of Venus by Italian artists from the Middle Ages to Modern Times" is probably the largest available, discusses the methodology of the compilation and the ordering by topics of sculptures, reliefs, paintings, frescos, drawings, prints and illustrations. The date of creation, artist's name, title(s), type, medium/support and dimension of the artwork, the owner, inventory number and information sources are given. 649 Italian artists are identified and the catalogue lists 1840 entries, ordered by 18 topics and many more subtopics. An index of artists, a directory of owners and an extensive bibliography are included. 156 p. You can read a preview of 12 pages and download the pdf-file (924 kb) at Italian Venus

I also published an article based on this compilation : "A Quantitative Survey of the Iconography of Venus in Italian Art". The size of the sample allowed for a quantitative analysis of topics and distribution of works and artists over the time considered. A tentative analysis and results are presented. DOWNLOAD FREE (8 p., 183 kb) at http://www.luluDOTcom/content/1916009 Survey

I would be very grateful to receive your comments on both publications and possibly also notification of errors or omissions in the catalogue. Homepage Benderk (talk) 17:48, 9 February 2008 (UTC)benderk

Beginnings of Christian art[edit]

The section on Christian iconography says, "Christian art began, about two centuries after Christ,..." I think this assertion is unsupportable. Is it possible that no one in the early Christian community produced any iconographic work at all for 200 years? The article Christian art says: "Christian art is nearly as old as Christianity, and the first preserved Christian images emerge from about 70 AD, as recorded in the archeological findings at the church in Megiddo." MishaPan (talk) 16:02, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

I think that is the distinction between art and iconography in the sense used here. I'll check my sources, but I don't think there were common patterns in imagery until ca 200, or after, as far as we know. Or the date may need changing. Johnbod (talk) 17:16, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Something that seems to be a trend in this subject is the idea that Christians somehow invented religious art. Considering that the pagan Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans had highly sophisticated forms of painting and sculpture, both realistic and symbolic, for thousands of years prior to Christianity, there’s no reason to believe that someone highly educated like St. Luke the Evangelist didn’t dabble in painting. As to looking for evidence, especially in to form of references in textural form to iconography prior to 300 AD it may simply be that it was so commonplace that there was no need to mention it, or rather, when writers wrote, they had better things to write about than painting.--Phiddipus (talk) 18:30, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

This article is only a few days away from being all about icons. Contributions to the "brief survey" on other cultures are highly welcome. But ones on "religious art" in general should go to Religious image or religious art (which perhaps should be merged). Are you using "iconography" in the Greek/Russian sense? Johnbod (talk) 18:46, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Plans for Editing[edit]

I plan on editing this portion of the article about iconography. I am just beginning this process for the first time and have a lot to learn. clarkal1 User:Clarkal1/Sandbox/Iconography