Meaning of Icons and Symbols in Art

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During the Byzantine period, early Christians had established that art could design

images, that represented Christ, Mary and the Saints. All these images were considered icons.

From the Greek word eikon, this means image. These are seen throughout the Romanesque and

the Gothic style. This essay will attempt to describe how symbols were used and the meanings

they had from the eleven century, throughout the Renaissance era.

Art had evolved and the usage was found inside and out of buildings, on paintings,

sculptures and others. The only issue that they found is that these images were becoming

worshiped and the issue of idolatry was condemned by the Eastern Church. Therefore, they

declared that these images could only be used if they where as means of intermediaries between

whom were worshiping and the personages in it.

During the Romanesque era, many buildings, such as churches and monasteries were

edified, increasing in number exponentially. The main reason was a desire to create monumental

places for worship and call them the house of the Lord, which also included his saints. These

structures where completely covered with religious motifs. Scholars claim that these serve as a

purpose to inspire and instruct believers to follow a certain Christian message and/or purpose.

These buildings, basically churches were built using a main pattern. They had to proceed from

the east to the west and as complex as they where it was a series of simple geometric forms.

They included inside locations that were rearranged for the purpose of their use. These locations

were the chapels, ambulatories, apse and the choir, as well as a tall crossing tower and an

entrance porch.

The term Gothic, was used by the Italians to call the...

... middle of paper ... meaning on the symbols used. These symbols are style used today and they are

recognized as they were during their period.


Stokstad, M. (2009). Art history. Portable Edition. (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ:


Figure 1, Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, Beauvais, choir, begun 1225, restored 1284 after collapse

Retrieved from

Figure 2, Amiens Cathedral (Cathedral of Notre-Dame), 1220, view into the choir. Retrieved


Figure 3, Pieta [Tempera on Wood] Retrieved from


Figure 4, Giving of the Keys to St. Peter. [Photograph]. In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved



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