The Iconography of Christian Art


Gertrud Schiller

A standard work for art historians, Biblical scholars and Symbolism research.


Gertrud Schiller, The Iconography of Christian Art, translated by Janet Seligman (London: Lund Humphries, 1971), First English Edition, both volumes thick quarto, 26 x 21.8 cm, hard cover with colour & b/w photographic dust jackets, black cloth with gilt titles on spines.

Vol. 1: ix + 473 pages, 585 b/w illustrations. Prefaces to the German and English editions; main Text (historical surveys and analysis), pp. 1-186 (Christ’s Incarnation, Childhood, Baptism, Temptation, Transfiguration, Works and Miracles); Catalogue of Illustrations, pp. 187-215; Photographic Acknowledgments, pp. 216-217; Plates with captions, pp. 219-466; Select Bibliography, pp. 467-470; Index of Biblical and legendary texts cited, pp. 471-473.

Vol. 2: x + 692 pages, 816 b/w illustrations. The Passion of Jesus Christ. Main text, pp. 1-230; Catalogue of Illustrations, pp. 231-272; Photographic Acknowledgments, pp. 273-275; Plates with captions, pp. 277-651; Select Bibliography, pp. 653-657; Index of Biblical texts cited, pp. 658-661; Thematic Index to volumes 1 and 2, pp. 662-692.

Weight of Vol. 1: 1.83 kg. Weight of Vol. 2: 2.6 kg. Total weight of 2 volumes: 4.43 kg.

Condition:  Near fine to fine, text and plate pages clean and bright, with only very minor spotting on the inside back cover of Vol. 1, and very minor spotting inside the front and back covers of Vol. 2. Dust jackets: Very good +, without tears, but a little narrow discolouration of top edges of both jackets.

Widely recognised as a major reference work, this massive iconographical survey when published was described as being unlikely to be equalled for its “stature, scope, argument and intention”. Building on an iconographical dictionary tradition begun in the mid-19th century, its critical insights into Christian art brought together the findings of the world’s leading scholars, providing an unrivalled index of iconographic symbolism. The English translation of the original work in German was published in 1971 by Lund Humphries in London, and in the United States by the New York Graphics Society.

Gertrud Schiller’s organisational skill in surveying a formidable range of images and planning the work’s analytical depth are readily seen in the second volume. This maps out the main phases of the theological exposition of the Passion reflected in art, then deals with each chronological period in terms of the prevalent attitudes, beliefs and ideas and the way in which these changing intellectual interpretations of various aspects of the Passion story gave rise in turn to changes in the pictorial image and modes of artistic representation.

In the second volume, the author discusses the beginnings of pictorial representation of the Passion, the inception of new sacrificial images, Old Testament typological motifs, the monumental crucifix as a cult object, the depiction of separate scenes in the Passion story, the crucifixes and multifigured, narrative images of the Crucifixion, images connected with devotions on the theme of the Passion, and those which centre on Christ as the Man of Sorrows. Gertrud Schiller (1905-1994) grew up in Beerbach and Augsburg, Germany, was appointed Head of Religious Art for the Evangelical-Lutheran church in Hamburg in 1969 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for her work on Iconography by the University of Berlin-Zehlendorf.