What is the Difference between Iconography and Semiotics?
Keywords:Iconography, Iconology, Semiotics, Sign, Visual Analysis, Image, Meaning-making, Erwin Panofsky, Ferdinand de Saussure, Charles S. Peirce, Cesare Ripa
The article asks to what extent, if at all, the methodological modus operandi of Erwin Panofsky’s three-level model for iconographic-iconological interpretation and analysis parallels that of semiotics as conceived by Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce. That this is the case has occasionally been asserted, for instance by Mieke Bal and Norman Bryson, as well as Giulio Carlo Argan. The exposition begins with an outline of features of iconography and of semiotics pertinent to the argument. It then proceeds to relate the grounds on which the two systems have been taken to resemble each other. Lastly, the alleged correspondence is contested on the grounds of differences regarding both the practices and objectives of iconography and semiotics respectively.