Image and Belief
Studies in Celebration of the Eightieth Anniversary of the Index of Christian Art
Edited by Colum Hourihane


The Index of Christian Art, founded in 1917, is today recognized as the premier resource for Christian and medieval iconography up to 1400. To mark its eightieth anniversary, seventeen scholars contributed papers to this volume, which focuses on the Index's twin strengths: iconography and methodology. From the heterogeneous imagery of the Crusaders to the repellent iconography of social rejection, from the significance of gruesome torture scenes to the moral precepts that shaped the enigmatic Ashburnham Pentateuch, the studies in the first part of Image and Belief provide stimulating examples of recent research in iconography.

With the growing application of computer databases and the Internet to the field of art history, the process of describing and classifying the subjects of art has become even more important and controversial. The papers in the second part of this volume deal with this critical area, giving analytical proposals for improving art-historical standards through computerization. They also provide case histories of specific applications, including the use of a database of Dutch printers' devices to reveal the long-hidden meaning of a major painting by Rubens. Particular attention is given to the use of ICONCLASS in iconographic description and to demonstrations of the improved capabilities of the new Iconclass2000 browser.The contributors are Adelaide Bennett, Hans Brandhorst, James D'Emilio, Gerda Duifjes-Vellekoop, John Fleming, Jaroslav Folda, Giovanni Freni, Cynthia Hahn, Debra Hassig, Avril Henry, Lutz Heusinger, Andreas Petzold, Helene Roberts, Alison Stones, Carol Togneri, Peter van Huisstede, Jörgen van den Berg, and Dorothy Hoogland Verkerk.

First published in 1999.

Colum Hourihane is Director of the Index of Christian Art, Princeton University. He has published extensively in the area of standards and art historical computing.