The monthly ArtSmart Roundtable brings together some of the best art history-focused travel blogs with a post on a common theme. For February we are discussing the iconography of a few historical, religious or mythical figures to help you “read” some of the images you may encounter on the road. I’ve always thought that understanding the context and source material for imagery really deepens your appreciation for art. You can find links below to all the group’s articles this month.
I love seeing Saints in European art because it is so easy to tell who everyone is. There is a characteristic object or dress to each figure that helps you decipher his or her identity. I’ve always been partial to John the Baptist with his wild man appearance and camel hair attire. But what about the saints with less straight-forward stories? Theological and historical confusion has long shrouded St. Mary Magdalene; consequently, she has a complex visual iconography.