Visual Arts Medieval to 17th Century

Harry Clarke illus of Hans Anderson Fairytales
Illustration from Harry Clarke's suite for ''Fairy Tales by Hans Andersen'' (1916) public domain

Early Irish Art Bibliography
at Celtic Art & Cultures

High Crosses
High Crosses, or Celtic Crosses as they are also known, are found throughout Ireland on old monastic sites. These High Crosses are along with the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow, Ireland’s biggest contribution to Western European Art of the middle ages. This site includes Google Maps locations of the Crosses. –Megalithic Ireland

Ireland’s Sheela–na–gig
In full view of the congregations that attended the various Catholic Churches then in Ireland, the priests and monks placed a statue carved out of stone (usually) showing a squatting woman with her legs apart and the genitalia of the woman held open with her hands. Such images were widespread in Ireland and each one was known as a Shiela–Na–Gig (probably meaning, the ‘Woman of the Vulva‘). This naked woman was prominently displayed for all the churchgoers at the keystone spot of an arched doorway leading into the church (or sometimes over a pointed arch of a window that was also apart of the church).Ernest L. Martin Associates for Scriptural Knowledge
Please note that some people may find images contained here offensive.

Ireland’s Sheela–na–gig and ithyphallic figures
Irish Romanesque figures at Annaghdown Galway (male), Berrymount Cavan, Clonmacnois (Nuns’ Church) Offaly, Glendalough (St Saviour’s) Wicklow, Grey Abbey Down (male), Liathmore Tipperary, Monasterboice (Muiredach’s Cross) Louth, Rath Clare, White Island Fermanagh/
Please note that some people may find images contained here offensive.
Satan in the Groin

Ireland and the Phallic Continuum
Ireland, on the other hand, a country which sees itself today as a centre of Celtic tradition but which was mostly on the periphery, and a country which did not receive all the eclectic influences of the Roman Empire (and thus probably had fewer, or a smaller repository of, phallic figures and monuments) is still littered with phallic monuments, amongst which the least appreciated are the remarkably suggestive gateposts of Ulster.
Please note that some people may find images contained here offensive.
Satan in the Groin

Irish Round Towers
An extensive list of 52 round towers in 21 counties, with O.S. location, dimensions, features, comments, history, and other items of interest, as well as many detailed photos.
F.J. and K.D. Schorr Irish Round Towers

Irish Manuscripts (ISOS)
Irish Script on Screen (ISOS) is a project of the School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

The purpose of such a site is to provide an electronic resource which will:

* provide exposure on the internet for a vital part of Ireland’s cultural heritage.
* place these primary materials at the disposal of scholars and students.
* contribute to the conservation of these valuable books and documents by creating images of high-resolution detail which, generally speaking, will reduce the need to handle the artefacts themselves. The text is in both Irish and English.
Meamram Páipéar Ríomhaire/Irish Script on Screen

The Ardagh Chalice
This two-handled chalice is an elaborate construction of over two hundred and fifty main components. It was found in a hoard consisting additionally of a bronze chalice and four gilt-silver brooches ranging in date from the 8th to the 10th century A.D. The hoard, which was discovered in Reerasta Rath near Ardagh, Co. Limerick, in 1868, is likely to have been concealed during the 10th century A.D. The chalice stands 17.8 cm high and is 19.5 cm in diameter excluding the handles.
National Museum of Ireland

The Book of Durrow
According to Bernard Meehan the Book of Durrow is ‘the earliest surviving fully decorated insular Gospel manuscript,‘ (Meehan, 9.) It is considered to represent a ‘new, essentially medieval concept of embellishing the sacred text as though with precious jewels and textiles.‘ (Calkins, 31.) It is the first example of a full program of decoration which complements the structure of the text. (Calkins, 36.) Its date of origin is controversial but is believed to be the late 7th century.
Early Insular Illuminated Manuscripts: Merging of Oral and Literate Cultures
by Elizabeth Howie

The Cathach / The Psalter of St. Columba
Written in Latin. The Cathach is the oldest extant Irish manuscript of the Psalter and the earliest example of Irish writing. It contains a Vulgate version of Psalms XXX (10) to CV (13) with an interpretative rubric or heading before each psalm. It is traditionally ascribed to St. Columba as the copy, made at night in haste by a miraculous light, of a Psalter lent to Columba by St. Finnian. A dispute arose about the ownership of the copy and King Diarmait Mac Cerbhaill gave the judgement ‘To every cow belongs her calf, therefore to every book belongs its copy. ‘The arbitration failed and the Psalter of St. Columba passed into the hands of the O’Donnells after the battle of Cul Dremhne in A.D. 561.
Royal Irish Academy

The Book of Kells
‘The Work Not of Men but of Angels…‘ – Giraldus Cambrensis, c.1150 AD.
The Book of Kells is one of the most famous manuscripts in the world and was completed in about 800 AD. The vellum (calfskin) manuscript contains transcriptions of the four Gospels, lavishly illustrated and ornamented. It is the most elaborate manuscript of its kind to survive from the early Middle Ages. This DVD-ROM is the first digitised version of The Book of Kells to have been authorised by Trinity College Library Dublin.

Thomas Bate (fl.c.1692) This portrait is the only known signed work by Thomas Bate, who was said to have been famous for his painting on glass and to have lived mostly in Ireland. National Museums Northern Ireland

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