Sunday, April 14, 2013

Recommended Books On Iconography

Five Recommended Books On Iconography

For those interested in the history, theology and technique of iconography, I have put together a list of my favorite books on the subject. Where there is more info I have included a website link. All of them can be found on Amazon for purchase. I have kept the book list small and concise, to my five essentials. There are many good books on the sacred image, but these are in my opinion the best ones to begin with, and if you purchase all five, there is not too much overlap in information. Together they will give you a solid historical, theological and technical foundation on the subject. The first part of the list are books, and the second list are some free online articles and websites that I recommend which accompany the books nicely. 


1. Hart, Aidan. Techniques of Icon and Wall Painting. Leominster: Gracewing, 2011. Print.

This is a very nice book. It is a large hardback put together very well and has a ton of full color illustrations. While it does cover some brief history of the icon, it goes into great detail on how to write an icon. From the making of the board, to the gesso, all the way to finishing it, it takes you along step by step. Although it is a bit on the expensive side, if you want to delve into icon painting, it is worth the money. More info found here.

2. John, and David Anderson. On the Divine Images: Three Apologies against Those Who Attack the Divine Images. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary, 1980. Print.

This book contains three written defenses of the Church's use of sacred images, in which all three are from Saint John of Damascus. This should belong on every Catholic's bookshelf. If you dig you can also probably find them all on the internet as well. 

3. Ouspensky, Leonide, and Vladimir Lossky. The Meaning of Icons. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary, 1982. Print.

The Meaning of icons is a great book for those who may want to just have a nice background on iconography as a whole. It covers the basic history, types of icons and their meanings and symbolism. It is an oversized glossy paperback with nice full page illustrations throughout. This is a great book to supplement Hart's book if you are getting into iconography and want to understand more history and the meaning of icons. 

4. Belting, Hans. Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1994. Print.

Likeness and Presence is a history book, pure and simple. If you want the complete history of Christian art and then some, this is it. It is over 600 pages. I really recommend this book for Catholics because it does cover the icon in the Western tradition as well, which most iconography books tend to overlook because they are usually written by Orthodox theologians. There are also many black and white illustrations that accompany the text as well. If you like history, this one's for you. More info found here.

5. "A History of Icon Painting [Hardcover]." A History of Icon Painting: L. Evseyeva: 9780955008900: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2013.

The final recommendation is a feast for the eyes. The entire book is filled with icons from the various traditions of the East along with explanations of them. If you are going to start painting icons, this will give you hundreds of examples from the many traditions of iconography. 

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