Friday, October 15, 2010

Celtic Art in 7th and 8th Century Ireland

With the arrival of St. Patrick in the 5th century CE, full-scale conversion to Christianity took place, and monasteries became the principal artistic centers. Christian Celtic art consisted mainly of stone crosses, illuminated manuscripts, and metal objects such as chalices, shrines, and reliquaries. The art of this period utilized traditional Celtic curvilinear motifs enriched with foreign embellishments brought back to Ireland by returning missionaries-motifs such as the Saxon use of entwined, interlocking animal forms in geometric decorations.

The most impressive Celtic Christian art was produced from the late 7th to the early 8th century, both in Ireland and in Irish missions in Europe. Manuscripts of books of the Bible were embellished, or "illuminated," with decorative borders and lettering of astonishing intricacy and inventiveness. Complex, twining geometric designs predominated; the rare representations of human faces and figures were abstract and stylized.

The masterpiece of this period is the Book of Kells , which is unsurpassed for the minute perfection of its jewel-like illumination. Other art of the period included large stone crosses carved with interlacing relief decorations; ceremonial religious objects ornamented with gold filigree and colored enamel studs, such as the Ardagh Chalice; and personal ornaments of highly sophisticated design, especially brooches-called pennanular brooches-in gilded bronze and silver.

Much more at the outstandig site

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