Art Principles and History

Finding Meaning in Art

What is iconography?

Iconography is the study of visual subject matter. Many works of art depict the same, or similar, subject matter; for example the Virgin Mary appears frequently in Western European art. A figure such as the Virgin Mary is associated with specific objects, manner of dress, or body positions known as attributes, as well as signs and symbols. An understanding of repeated signs, symbols, and attributes, helps in understanding the meaning of art.


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