Symbol and Meaning in Northern European Art of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance
Marrow, James H.
Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art, Vol. 16, No. 2/3 (1986)
Because “symbol and meaning” tend to be rooted in the branch of our discipline conventionally termed iconography, my initial thoughts in preparing this paper were focused on the connotations of that term and in particular what it has come to mean in studies of Northern European Art of the late middle ages and early Renaissance. In traditional iconographic studies, the meaning of a work of art is deciphered primarily from the represented “things” – what those in semiotics like to call the “signs” or “signifiers”-which make up the image, in practice, the central problem faced by the iconographers is, by deciphering these things, to recover the forgotten contents of past works of art.