The Celtic Art History blog takes you on a journey of the visual culture of the Celts, from its beginnings to modern day. It seeks to not only celebrate this art and its influence on pop culture but also to correct some of the misunderstandings that have come about through the spread of misinformation and lack of reliable evidence.
Travelling back in time we will visit the ancient Celtic lands. The first stop is Ireland, where we witness the Golden Age with artists such as Cúán úa Lothcháin, The Master of Kells, The Book of Durrow and many others. We will then travel to Scotland, where we will meet some of the Pictish artists such as St Columba and St Drostan. Next we will look at Wales, home to some of the most iconic Celtic images such as the Cad Goddeu or ‘The Battle of Trees’. Finally we will see how these cultures influenced one another and how they were influenced by their own artistic heritage.
We will also discuss modern artists who are inspired by Celtic lore, such as the Scottish artist Andy Scott or Welsh artist Alan Lee who illustrated Tolkien’s works. We will look at how these artists draw inspiration from their own folkloric background and examine how this has influenced their artwork
Celtic art, or art of the Celts, is a difficult subject to write about. It is so diverse and it is spread out over such a vast period of time that trying to understand this art form can be a daunting task. In this blog we will explore the beginnings of Celtic Art, its development and its eventual demise. We will also examine some of the more famous Celtic artifacts (mainly those from the British Isles) in an attempt to understand why they were made and what they meant to their original makers.
We will look at some of the most important aspects of Celtic art such as its geometric style, its use of animal forms and its amazing skill in metalworking. We will also have a brief look at some famous pieces of Celtic art and try to see why they made such an impression on their audience.
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The creation of the Celtic style occurred roughly between 600-100 BCE, which was a time of great transition. The Celts were a group of people who lived in the areas that are now Ireland, Great Britain, Scotland, and Wales. In this area they were the dominant culture. Their reach extended even into northern France, where they were known as Gauls. This is how the term “Celtic” came to be; it is derived from the Greek word keltoi which meant “barbarian.”
Although historians cannot pinpoint a precise date or place of origin for Celtic art, they have traced its development through history and have found that there are certain characteristics that are common to all of it. These include the use of spirals, zigzags, interlace and other geometric styles, animals such as horses and lions that appear to be in movement, and vibrant colors such as gold, red and yellow. The most salient aspect of Celtic art is its uniqueness; nothing else like it had ever been seen before or since.
Celtic art: A brief history. Celtic art, or Insular Art was the art of the people of Ireland and Britain from around 1000 BC to around 500 AD.
The period is split into four distinct styles; Primitive, Early Christian, Classical and Romanesque. The style is characterised by its intricate and highly detailed designs.
Tin glazing was used to paint the colours onto their pottery, bronze and stone work, which gave rise to a unique fusion of motifs including animals, humans, plants and abstract shapes.
It has been suggested that it may have arisen as a way for artists to preserve their work in an age before paper, when precious books would be made by hand on vellum using this method of glazing to decorate them.* Reference 1*
Celtic art emerged in Ireland around 300-200BC and spread over much of Britain through trade routes with mainland Europe. It was also adopted by the Picts in Northern Scotland. Its origins are not clear but it seems to have emerged from local imitations of imported Mediterranean pottery rather than from imported artefacts themselves.* Reference 2*
Art historians have found that most of the techniques used in Celtic art were developed locally using traditional materials such as stone
Celtic art, also known as Insular art, is a specific style of artwork that originated in the British Isles during the Iron Age and lasted until the European conquest of the region. The style is generally considered to be a fusion of Roman and Germanic art with some influences from Greek and northern European styles.
The name “Celtic” comes from the Latin term “Celtae”, which was originally used by the Romans to refer to any people living in western Europe who were not under Roman control. The term subsumed several ethnic groups, including the Gauls (modern-day French), the Britons (modern-day English), and the Iberians (modern-day Spanish). As it was long used by both Irish and British historians when referring to artwork found in Ireland, Scotland, and England, it is still sometimes known as “Insular art”.
The Celts were an Indo-European people living in Central and Western Europe during the Iron Age and the Roman period (about 500 BC to the Roman conquest in the 1st century BC). The spread of Celtic languages to Britain and Ireland began around 400 BC.Celtic art is a difficult term to define, covering a huge expanse of time and space. The term encompasses art from the early European Iron Age (including for example what would be called Hallstatt culture), through its use in the European Roman Iron Age, into the artistic styles of the later periods of the European Iron Age, including La Tène culture, eventually leading to Insular art and its offshoots in the British Isles.
A wide variety of different styles have been seen as constituting “Celtic” art, ranging from Greco-Roman styles developed in France with strong Celtic influences to Art Nouveau needlework and abstract late 20th century works by artists such as John Bauer. In classical archaeology a “Celt” is any person from Celtic Europe (but particularly those who spoke one of the Celtic languages) whether they actually resided in that geographical area or not.
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies that lived in much of Western Europe and parts of Asia between 800 BC and 400 AD. The Celts had no writing system, so much of their history, culture and way of life is based on archeological findings and the writings of other cultures, such as the Greeks and Romans.
From about 250 BC, Celtic tribes began to move west out of Central Europe and into Britain, Ireland, France and Spain. The name “Celt” comes from the Greek Keltoi, which means “barbarian.” In fact, this name was used by Homer in his Iliad, when he described a race of wild people living north of Greece. Another theory is that the Celts are descended from the Scythians or Sakai tribes who occupied large areas of Eastern Europe during the early centuries BC.
The first records we have are from the Greek historians Herodotus and Hecateus who wrote about them in the 5th century BC. They described various Celtic tribes as “fair haired” with blue eyes and many were skilled metal-workers using bronze to fashion weapons such as swords, daggers and spears. They were also great artists producing beautiful works in gold and bronze.