Iconclass Iconographical Vocabulary
Iconclass (www.iconclass.nl) contains 28000 items used to describe the subjects of an image (persons, event, abstract ideas). Complete versions are available for English, German, French, Italian, and partial translations for Finnish and Norvegian
The main building blocks of Iconclass are subjects, used to describe the subjects of images. An Iconclass subject consists of a notation (an alphanumeric identier used for annotation) and a textual correlate (e.g. “25F9 mis-shapen animals; monsters”). Subjects are organized in hierarchical trees.
2 Nature 25 earth, world as celestial body 25F animals 25F(+) KEY 25F1 groups of animals …. 25F9 mis-shapen animals; monsters 25FF fabulous animals (sometimes wrongly called 'grotesques'); 'Mostri' (Ripa)
Subjects can have associative cross-reference links between them (systematic references) and are linked to keywords that are used to access them. Keywords form a network of their own, with See, See also and translation links between them.
Iconclass additionally provides with mechanisms (auxiliaries) for subject specialisation at indexing time: keys, queues of keys, structural digits, double letters and bracketed text. These actually allow for collection-specific extension, by specializing a conceptual "placeholder" into a named individual (11H(…) saints gives 11H(ALISTAIR MILES)) or combining an existing subject with a non-independent concept (25F animals gives 25F(+33) head of an animal).
Maintenance of vocabulary is done via manual edition of semi-structured source files. As a general rule, the standard version shall only be changed in a conservative way, not modifying the existing subjects.