Iconology and Iconography

Paul Taylor

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online August 2011 | | DOI:
Iconology and Iconography

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


Show Summary Details


The words “iconology” and “iconography” are often confused, and they have never been given definitions accepted by all iconographers and iconologists. Panofsky 1955 (cited under General Overviews) defined “iconography” as the study of subject matter in the visual arts and “iconology” as an attempt to analyze the significance of that subject matter within the culture that produced it. This definition was prescriptive rather than descriptive, and many art historians before Erwin Panofsky who would have called themselves “iconographers” were engaged in investigations that Panofsky would have termed “iconological.” Another source of semantic disagreement has arisen from the perceived overinterpretations of Panofsky and his school, which have led some art historians to reject the word “iconology.” It seems useful, nevertheless, to keep a distinction between iconography and iconology, since it draws attention to a fundamental distinction between the study of words and the study of images. While iconology corresponds to the historical criticism of texts in literary studies, iconography has no obvious counterpart outside histories of the visual. At the same time, in art historical practice iconography and iconology feed into each other, as the literature surveyed in this bibliography shows.

Article.  8397 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.