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ARTH301: Art Historical Methodologies

Unit 4: Icon, Iconography, and Iconology   This unit examines the art historical methodology of iconography and its foremost practitioner and theorist, Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968).  Iconography focuses on the themes and ideas found in artworks in order to interpret them as symbolic expressions of the culture that created them.  After completing this unit, you will be able to explain the basic elements of iconographical analysis and write an iconographical analysis of an artwork.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 10 hours to complete.

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Explain how an iconographer interprets artworks.
  • Explain the iconographical methodology proposed by Erwin Panofsky.
  • Write an iconographical analysis of an artwork.

  • Lecture: Sophia: Aleisha Olson’s “Iconography”  Link: Sophia: Aleisha Olson’s “Iconography” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: View this lecture. It introduces iconography as a tool in art historical interpretation.
     
    Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license. It is attributed to Aleisha Olson and the original version can be found here

  • Reading: Wikipedia’s “Iconography” and “Erwin Panofsky” Links: Wikipedia’s “Iconography” (PDF) and “Erwin Panofsky” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Please read these pages as an introduction to the study of iconography and the works of the art historian Erwin Panofsky.
     
    Terms of Use: The article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0 (HTML).  You can find the original Wikipedia version of these articles here and here (HTML).

  • Reading: MNEMOSYN’s “Jack van Eyck: The “Arnolfini” Portrait” and “Edwin Hall: The Arnolfini Betrothal” Links: MNEMOSYN’s “Jack van Eyck: The “Arnolfini” Portrait” (HTML) and “Edwin Hall: The Arnolfini Betrothal” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read these pages that provide an overview of Erwin Panofsky’s original reading of the Arnolfini Portrait and Edwin Hall’s later reinterpretation.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpages above.

  • Reading: Iconclass’s “What Is Iconclass” and “History of Iconclass” Links: Iconclass’s “What Is Iconclass” (HTML) and “History of Iconclass” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Please read the webpages in their entirety as an introduction to the Iconclass subject-specific classification system.  When you are done, make sure to try out the Iconclass 2100   Browser (HTML) by choosing one of the topics located on the left hand side of the webpage and exploring the different subheadings that appear when you click on the link.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Marjorie Munsterberg’s “Writing about Art: Iconographic Analysis” Link: Marjorie Munsterberg's "Writing about Art: Iconographic Analysis" (PDF)

    Also available in: Paperback $10

    Instructions: Please read the page as an overview of how to write an iconographical analysis of a work of art.
     
    Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of Marjorie Munsterberg, and can be viewed in its original form here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 

  • Activity: Writing an Iconographic Analysis: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Collection Database Link: Writing an Iconographic Analysis: The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Collection Database (HTML)

    Instructions: Write a two to three page iconographic analysis comparing the artist’s treatment of the subject matter in the following paintings: Cigoli (1991.7)’s and Andrea Mantegna (32.130.2)’s “Adoration of the Shepherds.”  First, view these paintings in the Collection Database of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and then, if you are not familiar with their subject matter, do a small amount of research regarding what is depicted.  In your analysis, make sure to discuss how the viewer is drawn to essential iconographic elements in each artwork.  Remember to organize your analysis around several paragraphs that have topic sentences and correct grammar and spelling.  After you are finished, please visit Marjorie Munsterberg’s Writing About Art: “APPENDIX III:  Sample Student Papers (Visual Descriptions)” (PDF) to look at examples of student’s visual descriptions of these artworks.   Note that these students wrote several drafts and the teacher’s comments on these drafts are also included on this page.
     
    Terms of Use: The linked material above has been reposted by the kind permission of Marjorie Munsterberg, and can be viewed in its original from here.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.