Definition of iconography
1 : pictorial material relating to or illustrating a subject
2 : the traditional or conventional images or symbols associated with a subject and especially a religious or legendary subject
3 : the imagery or symbolism of a work of art, an artist, or a body of art
4 : iconology
Examples of iconography in a sentence
the iconography of the 1960s
Did You Know?
If you saw a 17th-century painting of a man writing at a desk with a lion at his feet, would you know you were looking at St. Jerome, translator of the Bible, who, according to legend, once pulled a thorn from the paw of a lion, which thereafter became his devoted friend? And if a painting showed a young woman reclining on a bed with a shower of gold descending on her, would you recognize her as Danaë, locked up in a tower to keep her away from the lustful Zeus, who then managed to gain access to her by transforming himself into golden light (or golden coins)? An iconographic approach to art can make museum-going a lot of fun—and amateur iconographers know there are also plenty of symbols lurking in the images that advertisers bombard us with daily.
Origin and Etymology of iconography
Medieval Latin iconographia, from Greek eikonographia sketch, description, from eikonographein to describe, from eikon- + graphein to write — more at carve
First Known Use: 1678
ICONOGRAPHY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of iconography for English Language Learners
: the images or symbols related to something
Learn More about iconography
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about iconography
Seen and Heard
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