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Icons: A Research Guide: Home

Christ Pantocrator

Christ Pantocrator. 18th century. Russian. Kizhi Monastery. Karelia, Russia. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Reference Works

Start your research with encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, and companions. They are great places to get basic information presented by experts in a concise and objective manner. Click the title of a work below to see if it is available to be borrowed.

Archangel Michael

Archangel Michael. 14th Century. Athens. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons

St George Fighting the Dragon

St. George and the Dragon. Bulgarian, 17th century?. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons


Gumberg Library

Icons: A Research Guide

Iconographer Solrunn Nes says this about icons:

Like all other art, the art of the Orthodox Church [including icons] developed within a particular culture and consequently may only be understood in the context of its own history. At the same time there is something timeless and universal about the icon. Its powerful mode of both spiritual and aesthetic. As well as representing a unique art experience, icons can also open the door to a spirituality that fulfills a deep religious need.

Icons, of course, are an essential aspect of the theology, worship, and devotional practices of the Eastern Christian Churches. Not only do they function as theology lessons in line and color, but they are said to be "windows into heaven," helping to link the believer on earth with the one depicted in the image.

This guide will connect researchers to many types of resources on icons including:

Scroll down to see what books and other materials are available at the Gumberg Library. Click the Major Motifs tab at the top of the screen to see examples of the most widely depicted subjects. Click the Video tab above to see videos on icons and iconography from YouTube.

Quote is from Nes, Solrunn. The Mystical Language of Icons, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2009.

Help is Available!

If at any time in your research your need help, Ask Gumberg. Or you can contact me, Ted Bergfelt, the creator of this page. Click to Send Email, or phone me at 412.396.5351.

The Mother of God (Theotokos) and the Infant Christ

The Mother of God (Theotokos) and the Infant Christ. 16th Century. St. Catherine's Monastery, Mt. Sinai. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Recommended Books

If you want to go in-depth researching the topic of icons, these books are good places to start. Click the title of a work below to see if it is available to be borrowed.

Transfiguration of Christ

The Transfiguration. Attributed to Theophanes the Greek. 15th century. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Find Journal Articles

To find journal articles on icons and iconography and the place of icons in liturgy, teaching, and prayer, use these databases. The full text of many articles will be available. To learn how to tell if full text is available, click here.

See Icons

To see icons online, this database is highly recommended:

Wikimedia Commons is a media file repository making available over 19 million pieces of public domain and freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) to everyone. Click the logo above to enter Wikimedia Commons.

Other Useful Information

Need help with citation? Click the link below for help in citing resources in the major styles.

Citing Your Sources

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Getting Materials from Other Libraries