Netherlandish art scholar, compiler of an important subject index of Baroque art; director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, 1956-1964. Pigler was a strong exponent of iconographical interpretation. Influenced by the medievalist Émile Mâle (q.v.), Pigler wrote a 1939 article for the Art Bulletin on the history and importance of iconography in the interpreation of art. He succeeded Ferenc Redő in 1956 as the director of the Szépművészeti Múzeum (Museum of Fine Arts), Budapest. The same year Pigler issued the first edition of a monumental study of subject matter in Baroque painting. Barokthemen: Ein Auswahl von Verzeichnissen zur Ikonographie der 17 und 18 Jahrhunderts became the most important (as well as the initial) place to consult when researching painting themes in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He revised his book in 1974. Pigler retired from the musuem in 1984 and was replaced by Klára Garas. Pigler was an iconographer. His Barokthemen, a magesterial index of themes (subject matter) in Baroque art, was intended to compare treatments of the same subject and thereby determine meaning. Intended for serious scholars, it divides subject matter between secular and Biblical topics and then arranged chronologically. Christian subjects are not alphabetized so knowledge of their appearance in the Bible is key. His methodology was best employed on cryptic painting and artists where symbolism would have been implicit in a contemporary reading of the work. The scholar of northern Renaissance art, James Snyder (q.v.), considered Pigler's article on Bosch and Astrology "one of the most influential studies on Bosch in recent years" twenty-five years after publication.
"The Importance of Iconographical Exactitude." Art Bulletin 21, no. 3 (September 1939): 228-237; "Astrology and Jerome Bosch." Burlington Magazine 92, no. 566 (May, 1950): 132-136; Barokthemen: Ein Auswahl von Verzeichnissen zur Ikonographie der 17 und 18 Jahrhunderts. 2 vols. Budapest: Verlag der Ungarischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1956
Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Modern Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology of 20th-Century Writings on the Visual Arts. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971, p. 57 mentioned; "Iconography." Encyclopedia of World Art 7: 769ff ; Synder, James, ed. Bosch in Perspective. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1973, p. 166; Bazin, Germain. Histoire de l'histoire de l'art: de Vasari à nos jours. Paris: Albin Michel, 1986, p. 381; Fekete, Márton, ed. Prominent Hungarians Home and Abroad. 5th ed. Budapest: HVG, 1991