Iconography, Symbolism, Motifs, Topoi, and Imagery

I. Iconography

II.  Medieval Art History

III. Symbolism, Motifs and Topoi

I. Iconography

Bibliographies of Iconography:


Colum Hourihane, “Iconography in the Western World,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Roelof van Stratten, An Introduction to Iconography, trans. Patricia de Man (Yverdon, Switzerland, 1994). Each chapter lists selected reference works; see especially ch. 6, “Iconographic Handbooks and Photo Archives.”  Includes an Appendix, “An Overview of the ICONCLASS System.”

H. van de Waal, Iconclass: An Iconographic Classification System (Amsterdam, 1973- ), 8 vols. and 3 vols. of indices. See below under “Icongraphic Indices and Databases.” N.b.: The Iconclass Bibliography volumes are not available online.


John B. Friedman and Jessica Wegmann, Medieval Iconography: A Research Guide (New York, 1998). Extensive coverage of medieval art and visual imagery.

Subject headings by chapter (not in Table of Contents):

Chapter One: Art General Reference 1; Aesthetics 6; Anglo-Saxon 6; Antique Heritage 9; Architecture 11 (General; Castles 13; Cathedrals and Churches 14); Artists, Female 15; Attitudes to and Descriptions of Art 15; Collections (General 17; Collections of Illuminated Manuscripts 18; General; Specific Collections, Owners or Manuscripts by Country of City 19); Decorative and Domestic Arts 30 (General; Alabasters 31; Brasses 32; Cards, Images on 33; Ceramic and Tessarae 35; Drawings 36; Enamel 37; Glass 38; Ivory 41; Jewelry and Gold Work 43; Tapestry 45); Diagrams and Schemata 46; Iconography 47; Manuscript Illustration 54 (General; By Country of Origin 61; Cycles of Illustration 7); Horae, or Books of Hours 78; Marginalia 79; Specific Studies, Films, and Facsimiles of Illuminated Manuscripts 80; Model Books 84; Monumental Art 85 (By Country of Origin); Funerary Art (Including Early Christian) 86; Sculpture 88 (Sculpture by Country of Origin 90); Wall and Panel Painting 95 (General; By Country of Origin 95); Wood Carving 97 (By Country of Origin).

Chapter Two: Other Tools 100; Encyclopaediae as Sources for Imagery (General; Individual Encyclopaediae by Compiler or Title (Alexander Neckam–Vincent of Beauvais) 103; Exempla 109; Preaching Handbooks and Sermon Collections as Sources of Imagery 111.

Chapter Three: Learned Imagery 119; Alchemical Images; Astrology, Imagery of 122; Complexions and Physiognomy 127; Geographical Imagery 129; Medical Iconography 137; Mythological Imagery 141 (General; Astrological Treatments of Myths; Classical Myth Medievalized 142; Commentaries on Classical Texts as a Source of Imagery, by Author (Anonymous–Vatican Mythographers) 144; Commentaries on Specific Classical and Late Antique Authors by Name (Boethius–Virgil) 151; Classical and Mythological Figures by Name (Achilles–Venus) 156; Euhemerism 163); Number Symbolism in Art and Literature 163; Topoi and Specific Figures 166 (Ages of Man; Alexander the Great 167; Aristotle Ridden by Phyllis or Campaspe 169; Arthur, Legends of 171; Bivium 172; Canon and Roman Law Representations 172; Compass 173; Fortune and the Wheel of Fortune 174; Fountain of Life 175; Geometrical Shapes 176; Grammar as a Visual Symbol; Hieroglyphics 176; Labyrinths 177; Man as an Upside-Down Tree; Mirror 178; Nine Worthies 179; Psychomachia and Virtues and Vices Imagery 181; Queenship 183; Riding Backwards; Roland Iconography 184; Skull as a Symbol; Time, Images of; Tristan Legend 185; Troy Matter 185; Wisdom, Figure of 187; World Grown Old; World Upside Down; Yvain Iconography 188.

Chapter Four: The Christian Tradition Bible 188 (General; Apocrypha 190; Bibles, Moralized 193; Distinctiones and Etymologies 194; Glosses and Exegesis 197; New Testament Figures and Images 200; Antichrist; Apocalypse Illustrations 201; Apocalypse Imagery 205; Beatus of Liebana’s Commentary on the Apocalypse 210; Christ, Images of, by Type (Body as bait–Passion); Last Judgment 213; Magi 214; Mary Magdalen; Pilate 215; Presentation in the Temple; Virgin Mary; Old Testament 217 (General; Adam and Eve Iconography 218; Babel, Tower of 220; Cain 221; David 223; Decalogue in Art 224; Isaac; Jesse 225; Job; Jonah; Lamech 227; Moses; Noah 228; Seth 229; Solomon); Worship and Theology (by Concept 229; Fertility Topos; God as a Circle 230; Heaven and Heavenly Otherworlds; Hell and the Devil 234; Liturgy and Church Feasts 239; Sacraments 240; Saints.

Chapter Five: The Natural World 247 General; Animals in Bestiaries and the Physiologus as Sources of Imagery 249 (General; Bestiaries and Physiologus by Name (Alnewick Bestiary–Bestiary of Richard de Fournival) 254 Animals in General 260; Fables of Animals 266; Heraldic Uses of Animals 267; Medicine Employing Animals; Naming of the Animals 268; Saints with Animal Attributes 268; Seven Deadly Sins Personified by Animals 269; Trials of Animals; Tropical Animals; Wind, Animals Impregnated by 270; Wood and Stone Carvings of Animals; Animals, Land 271 (By Specific Type (Ape–Weasel); Animals, Land, Imagery 285; General; By Specific Type (Amphisbaena–Yale) 287; Animals, Marine 296 (General; By Specific Type (Barnacle–Whale); Animals, Marine, Imaginary, by Specific Type (Sea serpent–Sirens) 300; Birds 302 (General; Birds by Specific Type (Cock–Thrush) 305; Birds, Imaginary, by Specific Type (Caladrius–Roc) 312); Hunting, Images of 314; Insects 317 (General; Insects by Specific Types (Bee-Snail) 318; Insects, Imaginary (Ant Lion) 320); Landscape and Seasons 320 (General; Cliffs 321; Deserts; Earth Personified; Labors of the Months 322; Mountains 323; Winds, Iconography of); Plants, Gardens, and Trees 324 (Gardens; Herbals 326; Plants, Flowers, and Fruits, General 327; Plants, Flowers, and Fruits, Real, by Name (Fleur-de-Lis–Strawberry) 329; Plants, Imaginary 230; Plants, Imaginary, by Name (Mandrake–Moly) 331; Trees and Forests, General 332; Trees and Branches as Visual Organizing Metaphors 333; Trees, by Name or Type (Hawthorn–Willow) 335); Stones 337.

Chapter Six: Medieval Daily Life 341; The Body (Beauty and Ugliness of Body; Body by Parts (Beards and Hair–Senses, Five) 343); City, Images of 347; Color Symbolism (General; Colors by Specific Hues 350); Crafts and Trades 352; Dance 353; Dawn and Night, Images of 354; Directions, Right and Left 355; Domestic Images 356 (Armor and Weapons; Baths 360; Beds; Clocks 361; Costume; Cushion 367; Distaff 369; Feasting and Food; Games 371; Mill 374; Windows and Doors 375); Flight; Gesture 376; Heraldry 379; Madness and Fools 381; Magical Representations in Art 386; Marginal Groups 390; Marvels 394; Music 398 (General; Music by Instrument (Bagpipe–Lyre and Psaltery) 402); Pilgrimage 403 (General; Badges, Devices, and Mottos of Pilgrims 406); Polymorphic Figures (Green Man, Wild Men, Hairy Anchorite) 408; Proverbs as Sources of Imagery 411; Ships 412.

See also Kaske, Medieval Christian Literary Imagery, pp. 91-103; Berlioz, Identifier sources et citations, pp. 259-77.


The Seven Deadly Sins and Corporal Works of Mercy. Database of British Wall Paintings.

Index of Medieval Medical Images. The search page allows browsing by subject.

Loren MacKinney, Medical Illustrations in Medieval Manuscripts (Berkeley, 1965).

Wolfgang Mieder and Janet Sobieski, Proverb Iconography: An International Bibliography (1999). 

Handbooks of Iconography:

The Routledge Companion to Medieval Iconography, ed. Colum Hourihane (New York, 2017).  Fundamental new reference work is the first port of call for iconographic research.

Table of Contents:

Colum Hourihane, “Medieval Iconography, An introduction.”

Section I : THE GREAT ICONOGRAPHERS.  1. Denis L. Drysdall and Peter M. Daly, “Andrea Alciato”; 2. Cornelia Logermann, “Ripa, the trinciante”; 3. Emilie Maraszak, “Adolphe-Napoléon Didron”; 4. Daniel Russo, “Louis Réau”; 5. Kirk Ambrose, “Émile Mâle”; 6. Peter van Huisstede, “Aby M. Warburg: Iconographer?” 7. Katia Mazzucco, “Fritz Saxl. Transformation and Reconfiguration of Pagan Gods in Medieval Art”; 8. Dieter Wuttke, “Erwin Panofsky (1892-1968)”; 9. Colum Hourihane, “Charles Rufus Morey and the Index of Christian Art”; 10. Edward Grassman, “Hans van de Waal, A Portrait”; 11. Patricia Stirnemann, “Meyer Schapiro as Iconographer”; 12. Matthew M. Reeve, “Michael Camille’s Queer Middle Ages”.

Section 2: SYSTEMS AND CATALOGUING TOOLS.  13. Ralph Dekoninck, “The Anthropology of Images”; 14. Chiara Franceschini, “Classifying Image Content in Visual Collections; A Selective History”; 15. Sherman Clarke, “Library of Congress Subject Headings”; 16. Hans Brandhorst and Etienne Posthumus, “iconclass: a key to collaboration in the Digital Humanities”.

Section 3: THEMES IN MEDIEVAL ART. 17. Marina Vicelja, “Religious Iconography”; 18. Karl Morrison, “Liturgical Iconography”; 19. Harald Wolter-von dem Knesebeck, “Secular Iconography”; 20. Madeline H. Caviness, “Erotic Iconography”; 21. Anne F. Harris, “The Iconography of Narrative”; 22. György E. Szönyi, “Political Iconography and The Emblematic Way of Seeing”; 23. Dieter Blume, “Picturing the stars – Scientific iconography in the Middle Ages”; 24. Jack Hartnell, “Medicine’s Image”; 25. Elizabeth Carson Pastan, “Patronage: A Useful Category of Art Historical Analysis”; 26. Joan A. Holladay, “Royal and Imperial Iconography”; 27. Elizabeth Valdez del Álamo, “The Iconography of Architecture”; 28. Laurent Hablot, “Heraldic Imagery, Definition and Principles”; 29. Diarmuid Scully, “Medieval Maps and Diagrams”; 30. Sherry C.M. Lindquist, “The Iconography of Gender”; 31. Martha Easton, “Feminist Art History and Medieval Iconography”; 32. Andreas Petzold, “The Iconography of Color”; 33. Celia Fisher, “Flowers and Plants, the Living Iconography”; 34. Sharon E. J. Gerstel and Michael W. Cothren, “The Iconography of Light”; 35. Susan Boynton, “The Visual Representation of Music and Sound”; 36. Pamela A. Patton, “The Other in the Middle Ages, Difference, Identity, and Iconography”; 37. Debra Higgs Strickland, “Animal Iconography”; 38. Asa Simon Mittman and Susan M. Kim, “Monstrous Iconography.”

The Eerdmans Encyclopedia of Early Christian Art and Archaeology, 3 vols., gen. ed. Paul Corby Finney (Grand Rapids MI, 2017). List of Entries.

Engelbert Kirschbaum and W. Braunfels, Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, 8 vols. (Rome, 1968-76). The most comprehensive complete guide. I-IV: Allgemeine Ikonographie; V-VIII: Ikonographie der Heiligen. Will be superseded by the following:

Albert Boesten-Stengel, Rainer Warland, and Harald Wolter-von dem Knesebeck, Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, 2nd ed., 10 vols. (Freiburg i.Br, 2012-19). 

Gertrud Schiller, Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst, 5 vols. (Götersloh, 1966-90). First two vols. trans. as Iconography of Christian Art, trans. J. Seligman, 2 vols. (New York, 1971-72).   I: Christ’s Incarnation, Childhood, Baptism, Temptation, Transfiguration, Works and Miracles; II. The Passion of Jesus Christ; III. Die Auferstehung und Erhöhung Christi; IV. Maria; V: Die Apokalypse des Johannes. With an Index to vv. 1-4, pt. 2 (non-biblical sources, persons, and places).

Hannelore Sachs, Ernst Badstübner, and Helga Neumann, Wörterbuch der christlichen Ikonographie (Regensburg, 2004). 

Louis Réau, Iconographie de l’art chrétien, 3 vols. in 6 (Paris, 1955-59). I: Introduction Générale; II/1: Iconographie de la Bible: Ancien Tesament; II/2. Iconographie de la Bible: Nouveau Testament; III: Iconographe des Saints.

Hans Aurenhammer, Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie (Vienna, 1959-67). Vol. I only (A-Chr), but includes a lengthy entry on “Christus.”

Karl Künstle, Ikonographie der christlichen Kunst (Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 1928).  1. Bd. Prinzipienlehre, Hilfsmotive, Offenbarungstatsachen; 2. Bd. Ikonographie der Heilligen.

Wilhelm Molsdorf, Christliche Symbolik der mittelalterlichen Kunst (1924; rpt. Graz, 1968). Topically organized; brief entries with references to coverage in older iconographic handbooks and literature.

Ferdinand Piper, Mythologie der christlichen Kunst von der ältesten Zeit bis in’s sechzehnte Jahrhundert, 2 vols. (Weimar, 1847-51). Vol. 1 covers “historical-mythological representations” (including mythological figures as Christian types, demons, heroes, the Phoenix and Sybil); vol. 2 covers “physical-mythological representations” (i.e. the natural world, cosmology, seasons, countries and cities). Astonishingly thorough coverage, with reference to literary sources as well as artistic monuments. Unfortunately there are no illustrations and many of the monuments cited will have been relocated since the mid-19th century, so tracing the references can be a challenge.

Hans-Martin von Erffa, Ikonologie der Genesis: Die christlichen Bildthemen aus dem Alten Testatment und ihre Quellen, 2 vols. (Munich, 1989-95). .

J. J. M. Timmers, Symboliek en Iconographie der christlijke Kunst (Roermond-Maaseik, 1947). Especially useful for its references to biblical, liturgical, and Christian-Latin primary sources. Includes an alphabetical list of attributes of saints.

Lexikon christlicher Kunst: Themen, Gestalten, Symbole, 2nd ed., ed. Jutta Seibert (Freiburg, 1982). 

Xavier Barral i Altet, Dictionnaire critique d’iconographie occidentale (Rennes, 2003).

François Garnier, Le langage de l’image au moyen âge, I: Signification et symbolique (Paris, 1982) ; II: Grammaire des gestes (Paris, 1989).

François Garnier, Thesaurus iconographique: Système descriptif de représentations (Paris, 1984).

Catherine Rager, Dictionnaire iconographique de peinture (Turnhout, 1998).

Catherine Rager, Dictionnaire des sujets mythologiques, bibliques, hagiographiques et historiques dans l’art (Turnhout, 1994).

Horst Appuhn, Einführung in die Ikonographie der mittelalterlichen Kunst in Deutschland (Darmstadt, 1980). 

Frank Büttner and Andrea Gottdang, Einführung in die Ikonographie. Wege zur Bedeutung von Bildinhalten (Munich, 2006). 

ChristianIconography.info. Online alphabetical dictionary, with a bibliography.

Répertoire Iconographique de la Littérature du Moyen Age (2010- )

Base de datos digital de Iconografía Medieval: Entradas Iconográficas

For iconography of saints, see the separate bibliography on Hagiography.

For iconography of the life of Christ, see the separate bibliography on Theology and Dogma.

Iconographic Databases:


H. van de Waal, Iconclass: An Iconographic Classification System (Amsterdam, 1973- ), 8 vols. and 3 vols. of indices. Comprehensive coverage of both secular and religious iconography. Subdivided in 9 parts, each with 2 sections (System and Bibliography): 1 Religion and Magic, 2 Nature, 3 Human Being, Man in General, 4 Society, Civilization, Culture, 5 Abstract Ideas and Concepts, 6 History, 7 Bible, 8 Literature, 9 Classical Mythology and Ancient History. Cumulative alphabetical index. Use the on-line database or the 3 vols. of subject indices in the print version to locate the classification number for an iconographic image, then consult the relevant “System” and “Bibliography” volumes for lists of keywords and references.

For a guide to the use of Iconclass, see Roelof van Straten, An Introduction to Iconography, trans. Patricia de Man (Chemin de la Sallaz, Switzerland, 1994), pp. 117-48. ; see  Etienne Posthumus and Hans Brandhorst, “A Practical Guide to the ICONCLASS 2100 Browser” (2009).

The Warburg Institute Iconographic Database


Princeton Index of Medieval Art. Searchable database. See the “Search hints” under Explore the Database.

On the Princeton Index see Kaske, Medieval Christian Literary Imagery, pp. 96-98.

Illuminated Manuscripts:
Multiple Libraries:


Initiale. Catalogue de manuscrits enluminés. A new site, Biblissima: Prototype Initiale-Mandragore, aggregates the Initiale database with MANDRAGORE (below).

Manuscripta Mediaevalia Datenbank. Search under “Ikonographie.”

Individual Libraries:

British Library, Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts

MANDRAGORE, base iconographique du département des manuscrits (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris).

Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts (Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Brussels).

Integrated Access to BnF Mandragore and KB Illuminated Manuscripts Collections

Scriptorium, Index Iconographique.  Online indices from Camille Gaspar and Frédéric Lyna, Les principaux manuscrits à peintures de la Bibliothèque royale de Belgique (Brussels, 1984-89).

Corsair (Pierpont Morgan Manuscripts).

Digital Library of Illuminated Manuscripts. The site “enables institutions that may have only one or a few of these documents to participate in a digital project. Through the power of the Internet these locally known resources are now accessible to an international audience.

Some Catalogues and Iconographic Indices of Illuminated Manuscripts:

The catalogues of Cambridge libraries by M. R. James often include detailed descriptions of the illuminations. Some of these catalogues are now available online: St. John’sTrinity College.

For catalogues of illuminated manuscripts in various countries and libraries, see Berlioz, Identifier sources et citations, pp. 270-73; Friedman and Wegmann, Medieval Iconography, pp. 19-30.

Corpus of Illuminated Manuscripts

Hella Frühmorgen-Voss and Norbert H. Ott, Katalog der deutschsprachigen illustrierten Handschriften des Mittelalters (Munich, 1987). 

E. H. Zimmerman, Vorkarolingische Miniaturen, 5 vols. (Berlin, 1916-1918). 

Wilhelm Koehler and Florentine MütherichDie karolingischen Miniaturen, 5 vols. (Berlin, 1933-82). 

Katharine BierbauerKatalog der illuminierten Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek in München, I: Die vorkarolingischen und karolingischen Handschriften I-II (Wiesbaden, 1990). 

Ulrike Bauer-Eberhardt, Die illuminierten Handschriften italienischer Herkunft in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, 2 vols. (2011-14). 

Mildred Budny, Insular, Anglo-Saxon, and Early Anglo-Norman Manuscript Art at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge: An Illustrated Catalogue, 2 vols. (Kalamazoo MI, 1997). 

Anglo-Saxon Illumination in Oxford Libraries (Oxford, 1970). 

Paul Binski and Patrick Zutshi, Western Illuminated Manuscripts: A Catalogue of the Collection in Cambridge University Library (Cambridge, 2011). 

A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles. : Elzbieta Temple, Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, 900-1066 (London, 1976) ; J. J. G. Alexander, Insular Manuscripts: 6th to the 9th Century (1978) ; Nigel J. Morgan, Early Gothic Manuscripts (1982) ; Lucy Freman Sandler, Gothic Manuscripts, 1285-1385 (1986) ; Kathleen L. Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts, 1390-1490 (1996). 

An Index of Images in English Manuscripts from the Time of Chaucer to Henry VIII, c. 1380-c. 1509, gen. ed. Kathleen L. Scott (Turnhout, 2000). [v. 1] The Bodleian Library, Oxford. [pt.] 1. MSS Additional-Digby, Ann Eljenholm Nichols

Kathleen L. Scott, Dated & Datable English Manuscript Borders, c.1395-1499 (London, 2002). 

Walter Cahn, Romanesque Manuscripts: The Twelfth Century, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in France (London, 1996). 

Alison Stones, Gothic Manuscripts 1250–1320, Part One, Volume 1: Text and Illustrations; Volume 2: Catalogue (London,, 2014).

François Avril et al., Manuscrits enluminés d’origine italienne, 4 vols. (Paris, 1980- ). 

François Avril and Claudia Rabel, Manuscrits enluminés d’origine germanique (Paris, 1995). 

François Avril and Patricia Danz, Manuscrits enluminés d’origine insulaire VIIe-Xe siècle (Paris, 1987). 

François Avril et al., Manuscrits enluminés de la Bibliothèque Nationale. Manuscrits de la Péninusle Ibérique (Paris, 1983). 

Corpus des manuscrits enluminées des collections publiques des départements: Yolanta ZaluskaManuscrits enluminés de Dijon (Paris, 1991), ; Caroline Heid-Guillaume and Anne Ritz, Manuscrits médiévaux de Chambéry: textes et enluminures (Paris, 1998). 

Friedrich Simader, Illuminierte Handschriften aus Österreich (ca. 780-1250).

Koninklijke Bibliotheek and the Museum Meermanno-Westreenianum, Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts

Thomas H. Ohlgren, et al., Insular and Anglo-Saxon Illuminated Manuscripts: An Iconographic Catalogue c. A.D. 625 to 1100 (New York, 1986). .

Thomas H. Ohlgren, Illuminated Manuscripts: An Index to Selected Bodleian Library Color Reproductions (New York, 1977).  Alphabetical index of contents can be used as an iconographic index.

Thomas H. Ohlgren, Illuminated Manuscripts and Books in the Bodleian Library: A Supplemental Index (New York, 1978). 

Helen E. Roberts, Iconographic Index to Old Testament Subjects Represented in Photographs and Slides of Paintings in the Visual Collections, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University (New York, 1987).

Helen E. Roberts, Iconographic Index to New Testament Subjects Represented in Photographs and Slides of Paintings in the Visual Collections, Fine Arts Library, Harvard University. Vol. 1: Narrative Paintings of the Italian School (New York, 1992).

Kathleen L. Scott, Ann E. Nichols and Michael T. Orr, An Index of Images in English Manuscripts from Chaucer to Henry VIII. The Bodleian Library, Oxford, Fascicles 1-3 (Turnhout, 2000). Includes an Index of Pictorial Subjects.

C. W. Dutschke, Guide to Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the Huntington Library, 2 vols. (San Marino, 1989), Index 6: Iconography (vol. 2, pp. 801-12).

For catalogues of illuminated manuscripts in various countries and libraries, see Berlioz, Identifier sources et citations, pp. 270-73; Friedman and Wegmann, Medieval Iconography, pp. 19-30, and the separate bibliography on Medieval & Modern Manuscript Catalogues.

Image Archives:

Google Images


Bridgeman Images

Art Resource

L’Agence photo RMN Grand Palais. Search “médiéval”.

Joconde. Portail des collections des musées de France. Under “Représentation” can be browsed by mythological subjects, biblical subjects, saints, popes, and a variety of other categories.

Art Museum Image Gallery (EBSCOhost database)

Arkyves: Online Reference Tool for the History of Culture

CAMIO: Catalogue of Art Museum Images Online

Prometheus. Combines databases of 88 of art institutes and museums.

Bildindex der Kunst und & Architecture. Deutsches Dokumentationszentrum für Kunstgeschichte – Bildarchiv Foto Marburg.

Europeana: Art

Gallica Images

Bibliothèque National de France, Banque d’images

International Center of Medieval Art: Albums

TIMEL. Thésaurus des images médiévales en ligne

Sancti: Thésaurus iconographique chrétienne.  Includes a database of images (Mémoire) and a database of objects (Palissy) drawn from French monuments.

PREALP: Peintures des régions alpines

Ars Picta – Centre de documentació de la Pintura Mural Romànica Catalana

Kalkmalerier.dk: Denmark’s Frescoes

Byzantine Iconography:

Literature on Byzantine Art 1892-1967, ed. Jelisaveta S. Allen, Dumbarton Oaks Bibliographies, 2 vols. in 3 parts (Washington, D. C., 1973-76). Vol. 2, organized by categories, has a section on Iconography (pp. 327-429).

Reallexikon zur Byzantinischen Kunst (Stuttgart, 1966- ). Through “Nerezi” as of 2003.

Cyril Mango, The Art of the Byzantine Empire, 312-1453: Sources and Documents (Englewood Cliffs, 1972). 

Günter Spitzing, Lexikon byzantinisch-christliche Symbole: Die Bilderwelt Griechenlands und Kleinasiens (Munich, 1989). Convenient guide with many illustrations and a select bibliography, but no secondary references in the individual entries.

Jewish Iconography:

Henry N. Claman, Jewish Images in the Christian Church: Art as Mirror of the Jewish-Christian Conflict, 200-1250 C.E. (Mercer, GA, 2000). 

E. R. Goodenough, Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period, 13 vols. (Princeton, 1953-68; One-volume abridgement, 1988).

Thérèse Metzger, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages: Illuminated Hebrew Manuscripts of the Thirteenth to the Sixteenth Centuries (New York, 1982).

Bezalel Narkiss and Gabrielle Sed-Rajna, Index of Jewish Art: Iconographical Index of Hebrew Illuminated Manuscripts, 4 vols. (Jerusalem, 1976-88).

Heinz Schreckenberg and Kurt Schubert, Jewish Historiography and Iconography in Early and Medieval Christianity (Assen, 1992). 

Secular Iconography and Mythology:

Raimond van Marle, Iconographie de l’art profane au Moyen Age et à la Renaissance, et la décoration des demeures, 2 vols. (The Hague, 1931-32).

Table of Contents:

Vol. I:

I.  Le noble (Le monarque et la hiérarchie sociale; Portraits de rois et de nobles; Le noble, son aspect et son élegance; Le faucon, Le chien et le guépard comme attributs; Le chevalier et sa monture).

II.  Les agréments de la vie du noble (La vie courtoise; La vie à la campagne; Les jeux; La danse; La musique; Le banquet; Mariages; Fètes).

III.  Les passe-temps (Spectacles; Animaux domptés; La lutte; Jongleurs et acrobates; Sports hippiques; L’équitation; Le tournoi; Travaux féminins).

IV.  La nature (Le paysage; Forêt et verdure; La forêt animée; Les êtres mystérieux qui habitent la forêt: Animaux chimériques, hommes sauvages, putti; Jardins et fleurs).

V.  La chasse et la péche (La chasse dans l’antiquité; Le gibier; Les animaux auxiliaires du chasseur; Départ pour la chasse: Le cortège; La chasse à pied; La chasse à courre; La mort du gibier la chasse au faucon; La chasse à l’arc et à la flèche; Autres façons de chasser; Les traités techniques de la chasse et leurs illustrations; Répresentations des scènes de chasse en tapisseries et en fresques; Satires et symbolismes; La pèche).

VI.  La guerre (Le guerrier; Exercises d’armes et duel; La vie du soldat; La bataille à pied mélées entre guerriers à cheval; Infanterie et cavalerie; Siège et prise de ville out de château; Stratégie et technique de la guerre, les horreurs de la guerre, bataille navale; La guerre  dans la décoration profane, satire de la guerre).

VII.  L’enseingement et le savant (L’école, l’université; Le savant; Le lettré et son protecteur; Décoration et caricature).

VIII. La vie rurale (Les quatre saisons, les douze mois et les occupations rurales dans l’art religieux; Les doux mois comme motif de décoration profane; Lest travaux de la terre; Les animaux de la ferme; Le berger et son troupeau; Le bûcheron; La vigne; Le jardin potager; Le paysan).

VIII.  Les rapports entre les deux sexes (L’art de conter fleurette; Amour et musique; tendresse courtoise; Le baiser; Tentations et faiblesses de la chair; Le lit; Le nu; Le bain et ses effets scabreux; Prostitution; Grivoiseries et indécences).

Vol. II:

I.  L’allégorie éthique (Le développement de l’allégorie; Les personnifications des vertus et des vices et la psychomachia; Les vertus; Les vices; La vanité; Les vertus en opposition avec les vices; La morale en action; Allégories de défauts à éviter; L’image de la chasse dans l’allégorie éthique).

II.  Les allégories philosophiques (Les triomphes de Pétrarque; Triomphes de héros et de princes; Allégories de l’homme et de la vie humaine; Les ages humains; Allégories psychologiques; La paix; La vérité, le temps; La victoire; L’abondance; La personnification de la Fortune; La roue de la Fortune).

III.  Les sciences et les arts (Les textes les plus anciens qui parlent des arts libéraux et le “De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii” de Martianus Capella, les représentations des arts libéraux; Les arts techniques et mécaniques; Philosophie, théologie et autres sciences; Musique; Les muses.

IV.  Allégories diverses (Les éléments; Allégories géographiques: vents, pays, villes; Allégories chronologiques: années, saisons, mois, jour et nuit; Allégories politiques; Allégories sociales; Allégories fantaisistes et énigmatiques).

V.  La mort (La personnification de la mort; La mort victorieuse; La danse des morts et la danse macabre; La rencontre des morts et des vifs; La mort, le jeune homme, la jeune femme et les amoureux; La mort et le soldat; La mort surprenant l’homme; Différentes représentations; Symboliques de la mort; Le moment du trépas).

VI.  L’amour (Les personnifications de l’amour; Le château d’amour; Le jardin d’amour; La fontaine de jouvence; La licorne; Allégories sur la chasteté et la sensualité; L’attrait pernicieux de la femme; Ses défauts et la folie qu’estle mariage; Les couples d’âges mal assortis; Exemples; De la déchéance de l’homme causée par la femme: Samson et Dalila, Judith et Holopherne, Aristote et Phyllis, Virgile et la princesse.

Guy de Tervarent, Attributs et symboles dans l’art profane, 1450-1600: Dictionnaire d’un langage perdu, 3 vols., Travaux d’humanisme et renaissance 29 (Geneva, 1958-64).

Claude Gaignebet and Jean-Dominique Lajoux, Art profane et religion populaire au Moyen Age (Paris, 1985). Covers Rébus, calembours, énigmes; time; myths; rites; places, texts (history of Merlin; life saidt Jehan Paulu; Roman de Mélusine).

Secular Imagery in Medieval Art, special issue of Notes in the History of Art 33/3-4 (Spring/Summer 2014).

Secular Sculpture, 1300-1500, ed. Phillip Lindley and Thomas Frangenberg (Stanford, 2000). 

Claude Gaignebet and Jean-Dominique Lajoux, Art profane et religion populaire au Moyen Age (Paris, 1985).

Malcolm Jones, The Secret Middle Ages (Westport CT, 1993). Iconography of folklore motifs and proverbial lore.

Profane Arts of the Middle Ages (Brepols series).

Classical Mythology:

John Boardman, ed., Lexikon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae (Zurich, 1981- ). The best resource for locating representations of classical motifs. There is an on-line Ergänzungsbibliographie. See also Reid and Rochelle.  The online LIMC is complemented by an image database, Iconiclimic which can searched or browsed by keyword.

Jane Davidson Reid, The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1993). Alphabetical by subject and name; lists Classical sources, followed by chronological list of allusions in primary sources with bibliographical references. Index of artists includes authors.

Mercedes Rochelle, Mythological and Classical World Art Index: Locator of Paintings, Sculptures, Frescoes, Manuscript Illuminations, Sketches, Woodcuts, and Engravings Executed 1200 B.C. to 1900 A.C. (Jesserson, NC, 1991).

J. Penny Small, Sybil: The Database of Classical Iconography (CD-ROM).

Fritz Saxl, Verzeichnis astrologischer und mythologischer illustrierter Handschriften des lateinischen Mittelalters, 2 vols. (Heidelberg, 1915-27).  [I. Die Handschriften] in römischen Bibliotheken.–II. Die Handschriften der National-bibliothek in Wien.

Jean AdhémarLes Influences antiques dans l’art du Moyen Âge (Paris, 1996). 

Some Iconographic Studies:

Jérôme Baschet et Jean-Claude Schmitt, ed., L’image: fonctions et usages des images dans l’Occident médiéval: actes du 6e International Worskhop on Medieval Societies (Paris, 1996).

Jill Bradley, ’You shall surely not die’: The Concepts of Sin and Death as expressed in the Manuscript Art of Northwestern Europe, c. 800-1200 (Leiden, 2008). 

Michael Camille, The Gothic Idol: Ideology and Image-Making in Medieval Art (Cambridge, 1989).

Michael Camille, Image on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art (Cambridge, MA, 1992).

David R. Cartlidge and J. Keith Elliott, Art and the Christian Apocrypha (London, 2001).

Chiara De Capo, Old Testament Figures in Art, ed. Stefano Zuffi (Los Angeles, 2004). 

Brendan Cassidy, ed., Iconography at the Crossroads: Papers from the Colloquium Sponsored by the Index of Christian Art, Princeton University, 23-24 March 1990, Princeton University. Dept. of Art and Archaeology. Index of Christian Art Occasional Papers 2 (Princeton, 1992).

Rosa Giorgi, History of the Church in Art (Los Angeles, 2009). 

Colm Hourihane, ed., Virtue and Vice: The Personifications in the Index of Christian Art (Princeton, 2000). Includes an extensive “Catalogue of Virtues and Vices in the Index of Christian Art.”

Colm Hourihane, ed., King David in the Index of Christian Art (Princeton, 2002).

A. Katzenellenbogen, Allegories of the Virtues and Vices in Medieval Art from Early Christian Times to the Thirteenth Century (New York, 1964).

A. Katzenellenbogen, The Sculptural Program of Chartres Cathedral: Christ, Mary, Ecclesia (New York, 1964).

C. M. Kauffmann, Biblical Imagery in Medieval England, 700-1550 (London, 2003).

V. A. Kolve, Chaucer and the Imagery of Narrative: The First Five Canterbury Tales (Stanford, 1984).

Gabriel le Bras, Les Ordres religieux: La vie et l’art, 2 vols. (Paris, 1979).

Emile Mâle, Religious Art in France, the Twelfth Century: A Study of the Origins of Medieval Iconography, trans. M. Mathews (Princeton, 1978).

Emile Mâle, Religious Art in France, the Thirteenth Century: A Study of Medieval Iconography and its Sources (Princeton, 1984).

Emile Mâle, Religious Art in France, the late Middle Ages: A Study of Medieval Iconography and its Sources (Princeton, 1986).

Christel Meier and Uwe Ruberg, ed., Text und Bild: Aspekte des Zusammenwirkens zweier Künste in Mittelalter und früher Neuzeit (Wiesbaden, 1980).

Ruth Mellinkoff, Outcasts: Signs of Otherness in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages, 2 vols. (Berkeley, 1993).

Ann Eljenholm Nichols, Seeable Signs: The Iconography of the Seven Sacraments 1350-1544 (Woodbridge, 1994).

Jennifer O’Reilly, Studies in the Iconography of the Virtues and Vices in the Middle Ages (New York, 1988).

Erwin Panofsky, Meaning in the Visual Arts (Garden City, NJ, 1955).

Erwin Panofsky, Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance (New York, 1962).

Erwin Panofsky, Early Netherlandish Painting, its Origins and Character, 2 vols. (Cambridge, MA, 1953).

Lilian M. C. Randall, Images in the Margins of Gothic Manuscripts (Berkeley, 1966).

Gordon McN. Rushworth, Medieval Christian Imagery as Illustrated by the Painted Windows of Great Malvern Priory Church, Worcestershire . . . (Oxford, 1936).

Meyer Schapiro, Selected Papers, I: Late Antique, Early Christian, and Mediaeval Art (New York, 1979). ; II: Romanesque Art (New York, 1977).

G. Duchet-Suchaux, ed., Iconographie médiévale. Images, texte, contexte (Paris, 1993).

Rosamund Tuve, Allegorical Imagery: Some Medieval Books and Their Posterity (Princeton, 1966).

Picturing the New Testament: Studies in Ancient Visual Images, ed. Annette Weissenrieder, Friederike Wendt and Petra von Gemünden, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament, 2. Reihe, 193 (Tübingen, 2005).

Francis Wormald, Collected Writings, 2 vols. (London, 1984-88).

Gospel Figures in Art, ed. Stefano Zuffi (Los Angeles, 2003). 

II.  Medieval Art History

Bibliographies and Bibliographical Databases of Medieval Art History:



Etta Arntzen and Robert Rainwater, Guide to the Literature of Art History (London, 1980). See especially section F, Iconography.  Supplemented by the following:

Max Marmor and Alex Ross, Guide to the Literature of Art History 2 (Chicago, 2005).  Table of Contents.

Oxford Bibliographies in Art History

Alessio Monciatti, “Arte medievale nei musei: le collezioni e le risorse elettroniche,” Reti Medievali


Elina Gertsman, “Art History,” in Handbook of Medieval Studies, ed. Classen, pp. 117-26.

Bibliographies for the Study of Medieval Art.  Tom Jacoby, Early Christian Art (c.250-c.500); Mary Clare Altenhofen, Early Medieval Art (c.500-c.1000); Suzanna Simor, Selected Tools for Research in the Middle Ages (c.1000-c.1500); Deborah Brown, Research Gude for Byzantine Art and Archaeology.


Art Full Text

Art Index

Art Source

Art Index Retrospective: 1929-1984

Frick Art Reference Library Periodicals Index

Art Abstracts

Art & Architecture Reference

The above databases can be searched simultaneously (depending on subscription) via EBSCOhost.

BHA & RILA (Getty Museum). Database merges Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) (1991-2007) and RILA. International Repertory of the Literature of Art (1975-91).

International Bibliography of Art (ProQuest). Successor to BHA (currently covers 2008-09).

RAA. Répertoire d’art et d’archéologie (de l’époque paléochrétienne à 1939) (Paris, 1910-91).  Years 1973-1989 incorporated in BHA. Section on the Middle Ages includes references to medieval iconography with brief annotations; see subject index s.v. iconographie.

Kubikat. Collective catalogue of four institutes of art history: Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence, Max-Planck-Institut (www.khi.fi.it); Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich (www.zikg.eu), funded by the Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Bildung und Kultus, Wissenschaft und Kunst; Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte / Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art in Paris (dfk-paris.org/), funded by Max Weber Stiftung – Foundation of German Humanities Institutes Abroad; Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte in Rome (www.biblhertz.it).

Art and Architecture Thesaurus on-line (Getty Museum).

International Census of Doctoral Dissertations in Medieval Art, 1982-

Many of the resources listed in the separate bibliography Medieval Studies: General Bibliographies, Reference Works, and Internet Resources are also relevant for research in medieval art and iconography.

Some Specialized Bibliographies of Medieval Art History:


Catherine Marsengill, “Early Christian Art,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Lawrence Nees, From Justinian to Charlemagne: European Art, 565-787, an Annotated Bibliography (Boston, 1985).

Genevra Kornbluth, “Merovingian Period Art,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Karen Blough, “Ottonian Art,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Elizabeth Valdez del Álama, “Romanesque Art,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Alexandra Gajewski, “Gothic Art,” Oxford Bibliographies.


Anglo-Saxon (see also Insular):

Catherine E. Karkov, “Anglo-Saxon Art,” Oxford Bibliographies.


Christina Maranci, “Armenian Art,” Oxford Bibliographies.


Lynn Jones, “Byzantine Art,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Ellen C. Schwartz, “Byzantine Art and Architecture,” Oxford Bibliographies.


K. C. Innemée, “Coptic Art,” Oxford Medieval Bibliographies.


Catherine E. Karkov, “Insular Art,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Martin Werner, Insular Art: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston, 1984).  Iconography is covered in the sections Art and Archaeology; Sculpture: Ireland; Metalwork, Textiles, Beads; no subject index.

Michael Swanton, Bibliography of Medieval Art in Britain (London, 1981). Organized by medium; no index.

Robert Deshman, Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian Art: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston, 1984). Includes an index of Places and Subjects.


A Comprehensive Bibliography on Syriac Christianity-Iconography


James Graham-Campbell and Jane Kershaw, “Viking Art,” Oxford Bibliographies.



W. Eugene Kleinbauer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture: An Annotated Bibliography and Historiography (Boston, 1992). Includes a very full subject index that covers the annotations.

Martin Davies, Romanesque Architecture: A Bibliography (Boston, 1993).

Decorative Arts:

Karen Overbey, “Decorative Arts,” Oxford Medieval Bibliographies.

Patrick M. DeWinter, European Decorative Arts 1400-1600: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston, 1988). 

Illuminated Manuscripts:

Catherine E. Karkov, “Illuminated Manuscripts,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Eric Ramirez-Weaver, “Carolingian Manuscript Illumination,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Catherine E. Karkov, “Anglo-Saxon Manuscript Illumination,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Lamberto Donati, Bibliografia della miniatura, 2 vols. (Florence, 1972). On Italian illuminated manuscripts.


Anthony Cutler, The Craft of Ivory. Sources, Techniques, and Uses in the Mediterranean World, A.D. 200–1400 (Washington D.C., 1985).

Niamh Bhalla, “Christian Ivories: Containment, Manipulation, and the Creation of Meaning,” in The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art, ed. Robert M. Jensen and Mark D. Ellison (New York, 2018), pp. 207-20.

W. F. Volbach, Elfenbeinarbeiten der spätantike und des frühen Mittelalters, 3rd ed., Kataloge vor– und frühgeschichtlicher Altertümer 7 (Mainz, 1976).

Gothic Ivories: Bibliography


Sigrid Danielson, “Carolingian Metalwork,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Elisabeth Coatsworth, “Anglo-Saxon Metalwork,” Oxford Bibliographies.

Monumental Brasses:

Monumental Brass Society Bibliography


Thomas E. A. Dale and Daniel C. Cochrane, “Mosaics in Italy,” Oxford Bibliographies.


The Corpus of Medieval Narrative Art


Martha Levine Dunkelman, Central Italian Painting, 1400-1465: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston, 1986).


Peter Harbison, The High Crosses of Ireland: An Iconographical and Photographic Survey, 3 vols. (Bonn, 1992).

Irish High Crosses Bibliography

Invisible Saints: The British Medieval Wood Sculpture Research Project

Thomas W. Lyman, with Daniel Smart, French Romanesque Sculpture: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston, 1987). Index includes iconographic motifs.

Dorothy F. Glass, Italian Romanesque Sculpture: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston, 1983). No iconographic or subject index, but includes a section (XIII) devoted to Iconography with the following sub-headings: General Works; Alexander the Great; Animals; Annunciation; Arthur (King); Belts of Strength; Hercules; Michael (Saint); Months; Prophets; Rider; Roland; Women.

Sarah Blake Wilk, Fifteenth-Century Central Italian Sculpture: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston, 1986). Subject index includes iconographical motifs.

Stained Glass:

Madeline H. Caviness, Stained Glass before 1540: An Annotated Bibliography (Boston, 1983). Has indices of Glass Painters and a Topographical Index, but no topical or iconographic index.

David Evans, A Bibliography of Stained Glass (Cambridge, 1982). The General Index includes an Index of Iconography and a Topographical Index.

Jewelry, Personal Ornament, Clothing:

Karl Hauck, et al., Die Goldbrakteaten der Völkerwanderungszeit, 3 vols. in 7 pts., Münstersche Mittelalter-Schriften 24 (Munich, 1985-89). Iconographic catalogue with plates. 

Andrea-Martina Reichel, Die Kleider der Passion. Für eine Ikonographie des Kostüms (Berlin diss., 1998).

Julia Hodges, “Medieval Costume: An Annotated Bibliography”



Dancing Images and Tales: Iconography of Dance form Classical to Middle Age [sic], ed. Licia Buttà et al. (Tarragona, 2014). Includes a General Bibliography, pp. 145-57.


Martha Easton, “Gender and Art in the Middle Ages,” Oxford Bibliographies.


Antonio Baldassarre, “Music Iconography: What Is It All About? Some Remarks and Considerations with a Selected Bibliography,” Ictus: Periódico do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Música da UFBA 9.2 (2008), 55-95.

Musiconis. Représentations du son et de la musique au Moyen Âge. Includes a bibliographical database.

Répertoire International d’Iconographie Musicale

Frederick Crane, A Bibliography of the Iconography of Music (1971). 


Databases for legal iconography


The Worldwide Bibliography of Art Exhibition Catalogues 1963-1987, 3 vols. (Millwood, NY, 1992). Divided into Geographical, Media, Topical, and Monograph Sections; for medieval art by period see vol. 1, sections AE, Byzantine Art, and AH, Eastern and Western European Art.

Subject Index to Art Exhibition Catalogues on Microfiche (Cambridge, 1982). 

Catalogues en ligne de collections de musées (Joconde)

Siegrid Schmidt, “Museums and Exhibitions,” in Handbook of Medieval Studies, ed. Classen, pp. 919-31.


Richard David Wissolik, The Bayeaux Tapestry: A Critical, Annotated Bibliography with Cross-References and Summary Outlines of Scholarship 1729-1990, 2nd ed. (Greensburg, PA, 1988).

Jan van der Meulen, with Rödiger Hoyer and Deborah Cole, Chartres: Sources and Literary Interpretation: A Critical Bibliography (Boston, 1989). Unusually thorough and critical annotations. Lists iconographic studies, pp. 529-613.

Encyclopedias and Dictionaries of Art:

The Grove Encyclopedia of Medieval Art and Architecture, 6 vols., ed. Colum Hourihane (Oxford, 2012). 

Oxford Art Online. Includes Grove Art Online, a searchable database version of The Dictionary of Art, gen. ed. Jane Turner, 34 vols. (New York, 1996).  

Enciclopedia dell’Arte Medievale, 12 vols. (Rome, 1991-2002). Vol. 12 is an index volume.

Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte (Stuttgart, 1937ff.) Through “Fries” as of 2016 (alphabetical list of published entries with equivalents in English, French, and Italian). Extensive and well-documented entries; should be consulted for sources, references, and comparanda even if your subject is not “German” art.  The online RDKLabor database allows search and browsing, including a Register of Person, Places, Subjects, and Authors, an alphabetical list of entries and subjects, and an alphabetical index subjects to  Christian iconography, Jewish iconography, secular iconography, mythology, plants, and animals.

Helene E. Roberts, Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art, 2 vols. (Chicago, 1998).  Vol. 1; Vol. 2.  Includes indices of Ancient Mythological and Historical Personages, Places, and Concepts; Judeo-Christian Personages, Places, and Concepts; References to the Bible and other Sacred Books; Other Cultures, Religions, and Mythologies; Artists and Works of Art; Authors, Literary Texts, Composers, Filmmakers, and Folktales; and Other Names and Terms (essentially a topical/thematic index).

The Oxford Companion to Christian Art and Architecture, ed. Peter Murray,  Linda Murray, and Tom Devonshire Jones,  2nd ed. (Oxford, 1996). Broad coverage, but no secondary references apart from a brief select bibliography at the end of the volume.

The Routledge Handbook of Early Christian Art, ed. Robert M. Jensen and Mark D. Ellison (New York, 2018).

Leslie Ross, Artists of the Middle Ages (Westport, CN, 2003).

Leslie Ross, Medieval Art: A Topical Dictionary (Westport, CN, 1996). For quick reference; a single pictorial example is cited for each entry, but no secondary references are provided.

Also important are the comprehensive encylopedias such as Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie and Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum (see the separate bibliography on Medieval Christianity and Ecclesiastical Sources).

Some Major Corpora of Medieval Works of Art:


Francis Cheetham, English Medieval Alabasters: With a Catalogue of the Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Woodbridge, 2005). 

Illuminated Manuscripts:

See above under “Catalogues of Illuminated Manuscripts.”


Gothic Ivories


Corpus of Medieval Misericords

Elaine C. Block Database of Misericords

Misericords of the World


Medieval Rings

Stained Glass:

Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi (Oxford, 1979- ). The indices of each volume include iconographic motifs. Go to Advanced Search > Date, Firm, Subject, & Form > Search for Term. After entering a search term you can click on the words “Search for Term” to get a list of related iconographic subheadings.

Corpus Vitrearum Deutschland. See also their links to other national stained-glass corpora.

BIVI: Italian Stained-Glass Window Database.  Includes a list of iconographic subjects.


Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture

Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland

Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in American Collections

Corpus of Gothic Sculpture in American Collections

Wall Paintings:

Medieval Wall Painting in the English Parish Church. Includes an iconographic index. Most examples are post-Conquest.

Internet Resources:

Lois Swan JonesArt Information and the Internet: How to Find It, How to Use It (New York, 2013). 

Collections of Documentary Sources:

Julius von Schlosser, Quellenbuch zur Kunstgeschichte des abenländischen Mittelalters (Vienna, 1896).

J. Yarza et al., Arte Medieval, 2 vols. (Barcelona, 1982). 

Caecilia Davis-Weyer, Early Medieval Art 300-1150 (Toronto, 1986).

Teresa G. Frisch, Gothic Art 1140-c. 1450 (Toronto, 1971).

Elsmarie Knögel, ed., Schriftquellen zur Kunstgeschichte der Merowingerzeit (Darmstadt, 1936).

Julius von Schlosser, Schriftquellen zur Geschichte der karolingischen Kunst (Vienna, 1896).

Otto Lehmann-Brockhaus, Schriftquellen zur Kunstgeschichte des 11. und 12. Jahrhunderts für Deutschland Lothringen und Italien, 2 vols. (Berlin, 1938).

Otto Lehmann-Brockhaus, Lateinische Schriftquellen zur Kunst in England, Wales und Schottland, vom Jahre 901 bis zum Jahre 1307, 5 vols. (Munich, 1955-60).

Victor Mortet, Receuil des textes relatifs à l’histoire de l’architecture et à la condition des architectes en France au Moyen Age, 2 vols. (Paris, 1911-29). 

Chrétien Dehaisnes, ed, Documents et extraits divers concernant l’histoire de l’art dans le Flandre, l’Artois, et le Hainaut, avant le XVe siècle (Lille, 1886).

Quellenschriften für Kunstgeschichte und Kunsttechnik des Mittelalters, ed. Rudolf von Eitelsberger von Edelberg and Albert Ilg (Vienna, 1888-).

Some Major Journals:

The Art Bulletin (1913- ).

Arte Cristiana.

Gesta (1964- ).

Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes (1940- ).

Revista Digital de Iconografía Medieval (2009- ).

Studies in Iconography (1975- ).

Word and Image (1985- ).

III. Symbols, Topoi, Imagery

Bibliographies and Dictionaries of Symbols:

Manfred Lurker et al., ed., Bibliographie zur Symbolik, Ikonographie und Mythologie (Baden-Baden, 1968- ). Each volume has a subject index, and there are cumulative indices for vols. 1-10, 11-20, and 21-30.

Manfred Lurker, Bibliographie zur Symbolkunde, 3 vols. (Baden-Baden, 1964-68). Cumulative indices of authors and subjects in vol. 3.

Manfred Lurker, ed., Wörterbuch der Symbolik (Stuttgart, 1979).

Gérard de Champeaux and Sébastian Sterckx, Introduction au monde des symboles (Paris, 1966).

Christian iconography of the Romanesque period.

Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, ed., A Dictionary of Symbols, trans. John Buchanan-Brown (Cambridge, MA, 1994).

Dorothea Forsnter, Die Welt der Symbole, 2nd ed. (Munich, 1967).

Stephen Olderr, Reverse Symbolism Dictionary: Symbols Listed by Subject (Jefferson, NC, 1992).

James W. Marchand, WEMSK 13, Symbolism.

Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Symbolforschung: Hilfsmittel

Christian Symbols:

Jean Daniélou, Primitive Christian Symbols, trans. Donald Attwater (Baltimore, 1964).

J. Kreuser, Christliche Symbolik (Brixen, 1868). Alphabetical entries, many with reference to patristic sources.

Gerhard B. Ladner, God, Cosmos, and Humankind: The World of Early Christian Symbolism, trans. Thomas Dunlap (Berkeley, 1995).

Gerhart B. Ladner, Images and Ideas in the Middle Ages: Selected Studies in History and Art, 2 vols. (Rome, 1983).

Christel Meier, Gemma spiritalis: Methode und Gebrauch der Edelsteinallegorese vom frühen Christentum bis ins 18. Jahrhundert, Münstersche Mittelalter-Schriften 34 (Munich, 1977).

Heinz Meyer and Rudolf Suntrup, Lexikon der mittelalterlichen Zahlenbedeutungen, Münstersche Mittelalter-Schriften 56 (Munich, 1987).

Hugo Rahner, Symbole der Kirche: Die Ekklesiologie der Väter (Salzburg, 1954).

Hugo Rahner, Greek Myth and Christian Mystery, trans. Brian Battershaw (New York, 1963). 

Anselm Salzer, Die Sinnbilder und Beiworte Mariens in der deutschen Literatur und lateinischen Hymnenpoesie des Mittelalters, mit Berücksichtigung der patristischen Literatur. Eine literar-historische Studie (1886-1894; repr. Darmstadt, 1967).

Joseph Sauer, Symbolik des Kirchengebäudes und seiner Ausstattung in der Auffassung des Mittelalters mit Berücksichtigung von Honorius Augustodunesis Sicardus und Durandus, 2nd ed. (1924; repr. Münster/West., 1964).

Rudolf Suntrup, Die Bedeutung der liturgischen Gebärden und Bewegungen in lateinischen und deutschen Auslegungen des 9. bis 13. Jahrhunderts, Münstersche Mittelalter-Schriften, 37 (Munich,1978).

Marie-Louise Thérel, Les Symboles de l’ “Ecclesia” dans la création iconographique de l’art chrétien du IIIe au VIe siècle (Rome, 1973).

See also the LOC subject heading “Christian Art and Symbolism–Medieval”


Bibliographies and Dictionaries of Literary Themes, Motifs, and Imagery:

For folklore motifs see the separate bibliography on Medieval Folklore & Popular Culture.

Viktor Pöschl et al., Bibliographie zur antiken Bildersprache (Heidelberg, 1964). Index to secondary studies, organized alphabetically by classical and early Christian author or motif. 

Klaus R. Grinda, Enzyklopädie der literarischen Vergleiche: Das Bildinventar von der römischen Antike bis zum Ende des Frühmittelalters (Paderborn, 2002).  Massive inventory of literary imagery (similes, metaphors, analogies) arranged topically, with lavish illustrative quotations mainly from classical and early medieval Latin texts (including the Vulgate) but also from the older Germanic literatures including Old English. Most entries are subdivided into quotations from pagan and Christian writers. Includes an index of primary texts and authors (Biblical; Germanic; Latin). The online full-text.pdf can be searched (click on “Search within tome”), so one can locate a particular term, heading or subheading in German or locate relevant quotations using Latin (or Old English, etc.) words.

Mortimer J. Adler and William Gorman, ed., The Great Ideas: A Syntopicon of Great Books of the Western World, 2 vols. (Chicago, 1952).  Vol. 2. Detailed and highly-articulated topical indices (I: Angel to Love; II: Man to World) to the University of Chicago Great Books of the Western World series. Under the heading “Angel,” for example, one can find elaborate listings on the concepts of angelic guardianship over men and demonic temptation, with references from, inter alia, the Bible, Augustine, Aquinas, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Rabelais, Milton, Pascal, Goethe, and Dostoevesky, keyed to the translations in the series. Each entry also has a list of Additional Readings not included in the series(in this case, ranging from Philo’s On the Cherubim to C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters). Each entry is prefaced by a history-of-ideas style essay on the topic. An Inventory of Terms in vol. 2, pp. 1303-45 allows ones to locate references to many additional topics across entries.

Jean-Charles Seigneuret, ed., Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs, 2 vols. (New York, 1988).

Michael Ferber, Dictionary of Literary Symbols, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 2007). 

Metzler Lexikon literarischer Symbole, ed. Günter Butzer and Joachim Jacob (Stuttgart, 2008). 

Horst S. Daemmrich and Ingrid Daemmrich, Themen und Motive in der Literatur: Ein Handbuch (Tübingen, 1987). Highly selective; no list of contents.

Elisabeth Frenzel, Motive der Weltliteratur: Ein Lexikon dichtungsgeschichtlicher Längsschnitte, 4th ed. (Stuttgart, 1992).

Elisabeth Frenzel, Stoffe der Weltliteratur: Ein Lexikon dichtungsgeschichtlicher Längsschnitte, 7th ed. (Stuttgart, 1988).

Elisabeth Frenzel, Stoff-, Motiv- und Symbolforschung (Stuttgart, 1966).

Franz Anselm Schmitt, Stoff- und Motivgeschichte der deutschen Literatur: Eine Bibliographie (Berlin, 1959).

Topos- and Bedeutungsforschung:

Max L. Baeumer, ed., Toposforschung (Darmstadt, 1973).

Lothar Bornscheuer, “Bemerkungen zur Toposforschung,” Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch 11 (1976), 312-20. 

E. R. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, trans. Willard Trask (Princeton, 1953).

Friedrich Ohly, Schriften zur Mittelalterlichen Bedeutungsforschung (Darmstadt, 1977).

Friedrich Ohly, Ausgewählte und neue Schriften zur Literaturgeschichte und zur Bedeutungsforschung, ed. Uwe Ruberg und Dietmar Peil (Stuttgart, 1995).

Friedrich Ohly, Sensus spiritualis. Studies in Medieval Significs and the Philology of Culture, ed. Samuel P. Jaffe, trans. Kenneth J. Northcott (Chicago, 2005).

Mittelalterliche Bedeutungsforschung (research projects and publications from the Institut für Frühmittelalterforschung, Münster). Includes a list of volumes in the series Münstersche Mittelalter-Schriften.

Schriften zur Symbolforschung

Thesaurus von Metaphern und Symbolen

Charles D. Wright: cdwright@illinois.edu
last updated 3/19