Iconographic Reading In Art History

Iconographic Reading in Art History
 
One of the most important practices for an art historian to master is that of doing what we call: iconography.  Literally translating to "reading images," this practice involves looking at the elements of the image in order to work out the subject matter or story that the artist intended to convey.  Sometimes this practice is enhanced by textual supporting documents like letters of commission, first hand accounts from the artist or patron, or other primary sources.  Sometimes, it's a process of reading symbols, understanding the norms of the cultural time period, or religious customs.  

Select one of the following images from the text and see if you can work through an iconographic reading that might help to explain what is happening in the image. 

This analysis should include formal elements (yep - those elements from the introduction again!), and interpretation of the scene.  Do not worry about being "right."  This isn't a research paper for you to find out the "truth" behind the image you select, but a practice in close looking and evaluation of an image.  


Iconographic Reading In Art History

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