Erwin Panofsky

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Panofsky, Erwin


Born Mar. 30, 1892, in Hanover; died Mar. 14, 1968, in Princeton, N.J. German-American art historian. Professor in Hamburg from 1926 to 1933 and at Princeton beginning in 1935.

Panofsky—influenced by the Vienna school of art studies (M. Dvořák, A. Riegl), as well as by the teachings of E. Cassirer on “symbolic forms”—together with A. Warburg and F. Saxl provided the foundation for the iconological approach to the study of works of art. Striving to overcome the one-sidedness of both the stylistic and the purely iconographic approaches, he proposed that a work of art be considered as a characteristic manifestation—a sign or “symptom”—of a cultural-historical situation, which is reflected not only in the choice of the subject but also in the artistic style. In his research, which was devoted mainly to medieval and Renaissance art, Panofsky analyzed peculiarities of form within the context of a philological and historical-philosophical interpretation of the content.


Studies in Iconology. Oxford, 1939. New edition, New York [1962].
Meaning in the Visual Arts. Garden City, 1957.
Aufsätze zu Grundfragen der Kunstwissenschaft. Berlin, 1964.


Libman, M. Ia. “Ikonologiia.” In the collection Sovremennoe iskusstvoznanie za rubezhom: Ocherki. Moscow, 1964. Pages 62–76.
Bialostocki, J. “Erwin Panofsky (1892–1968), myśliciel, historyk, człowiek.” In E. Panofsky, Studia z historii sztuki. Warsaw, 1971.