Iconography is the study and interpretation of symbols, motifs, and visual elements in art, aiming to understand their cultural, historical, and contextual meanings. It reveals hidden messages, cultural significance, and the broader narratives conveyed through images, enriching our comprehension of visual representation across different time periods and cultures.
Begin your research on iconography by exploring academic databases through LibrarySearch and looking at some specialized reference materials, such as encyclopedias. Utilize library resources, books, and articles on art history and semiotics. Online museum collections and art history websites are also valuable sources.
Starting your research in LibrarySearch will help give you an idea of what is out there, in addition to starting research in some specialized databases. Thinking about the location and time period of the iconography you are interested in can help narrow down which databases might be most helpful for you. Here are a selection of databases that might have peer-reviewed research articles on iconography.
These are a selection of some of the specific semiotic and iconography-related reference materials available at Ladd Library. For more, search LibrarySearch (here's a sample search for symbolism dictionaries) and see if we have a symbol dictionary or encyclopedia for the time period and culture in which you are interested.
These are some titles focused on religious iconography. These are just a selection of the many reference materials available for iconographic dictionaries, so be sure to search LibrarySearch for the religion and the time period you are interested in.