Definition of iconography in US English:



  • 1The visual images and symbols used in a work of art or the study or interpretation of these.

    • ‘The poses of seated figure and rooster and the relation between them distinctly recall the iconography of Peter's denial in early Christian and Carolingian images.’
    • ‘Ever since, lions have been portrayed in art, myth and iconography as powerful symbols of solar strength, supremacy, glory, light and brilliance.’
    • ‘Sunday Morning looks at the convergence of Islam and Latin culture in the religious iconography, the dress of the Byzantines, and the situation of women.’
    • ‘The effectiveness of the statue was thus dependent in part on the visual suitability of its iconography and the quality of its form.’
    • ‘My study of the iconography has revealed 37 images from the twelfth century, 65 from the thirteenth century, then a mighty leap to 201 from the fourteenth century.’
    • ‘Some of the earliest forms of such art were in church iconography, paintings, mosaics, frescos, and stained glass windows which decorated and instructed at the same time: the Bible of the poor.’
    • ‘It has been demonstrated that the iconography of the Del Sarto altarpiece reflects Franciscan doctrine and artistic conventions.’
    • ‘It is not only the iconography of Blake's work that conveys a dream of liberation.’
    • ‘But this belief, held by early military historians like Sir Charles Oman and J. E. Morris, was based on too literal and too limited an interpretation of medieval iconography such as the Bayeux Tapestry.’
    • ‘The spearhead is unexpected, however, since spears, although associated in Bronze Age iconography with hunting and warfare, do not feature in depictions of sacrifice.’
    1. 1.1 The visual images, symbols, or modes of representation collectively associated with a person, cult, or movement.
      ‘the iconography of pop culture’
      • ‘There's black and white pictures of presidential iconography: the oval office, motorcades, and the Presidential helicopter Marine One.’
      • ‘While this collection of styles is consonant with Ferry's interest in ironic pop art, it also reflects a significant departure, as noted, from the standard visual iconography of rock.’
      • ‘In Texas, the first thing to hit me was the iconography - of the cowboy, the Southwest, and the landscape, along with rich Tex-Mex culture represented by the Mariachi bands.’
      • ‘Sentimental photographs of high quality continue the maudlin iconography of Indians as last representatives of a fine and more noble pristine past, oppressed by crude invaders.’
      • ‘This is clearest in his valorization of the visual iconography of the French Revolution.’
  • 2A collection of illustrations or portraits.

    • ‘With her designs for The Indians' Book of 1907, DeCora moved past a generic interest in Native symbols to create a pan-Indian iconography.’
    • ‘The great festivals celebrating the saving events in the life of Christ and the life of his Mother are represented both in mural iconography in the upper parts of the church and on the icon screen.’


Early 17th century (denoting a drawing or plan): from Greek eikonographia ‘sketch, description’, from eikōn ‘likeness’ + -graphia ‘writing’.