Ancient Celtic Art and Art History

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  • GuideToArtHistory

    FamousArtistsArtStylesandPeriodsArtMediumsAncientArt

    IntroductiontoAncientCelticArtByArtHistory.net

    TheartoftheCeltsisgenerallyassociatedwithornamentalartistrythatiscomprisedofrepetitivepatterns,spirals,knots,foliage,andanimalforms.Celticartisessentiallyeasytoidentifybecauseoftheserecognizablefeatures,buttheCeltsthemselvesaremoredifficulttodefine.Celticpeopleareassociatedwithawidegeographicalareaandtheirtraditionsarerootedinvariousculturesthroughoutlongstretchesoftime.

    By800B.C.CelticartwasevidentthroughmuchofEurope.ThiscontinentalstyleofCelticart,whilelesssophisticatedthanlaterstyles,cametoriseduringtheIronAge.Itsdesignsoftenshowaxialsymmetry.Often,functionalobjectslikebelthooksorwinevesselswerethemediumsforearlyCelticstyledecorativework.Thisartera,whichwouldcometobeknownastheHallstattperiod,witnessedthecarvingofjewelry,beads,statuary,andeventableware.

    AsCelticarttraditionscontinued,theirstylebecameassociatedwithpeopleofLaTeneculture.WhileLaTeneculturedevelopedfromtheearlyIronAgepeoplesoftheregion,itshowsamarkedMediterraneaninfluence.CeltictraditionsbecameevermorewidespreadinareasliketheBritishIslesby500BCandstretchedasfareastastheBlackSea.ArtistrygrewmoresophisticatedandembodiedmoreclassicalMediterraneanfeatures.TherewascertainlyaGreekinfluenceandRomantoowhichisnotsurprisinggiventheproximityofthecompetinggroups.MetalworkcontinuedtoemploytelltaleCelticdesignsthatwererichlysymbolic.Also,theuseofredenamelbegantoappearinvariousitemslikeamuletsandvases.

    TheCelticartofIrelandisparticularlynoteworthy,however,sinceitremainedrelativelyuntouchedduringtheRomanEmpire.ItspracticeofLaTenestyleartistryevolvedtoincorporateScandinavianinfluences.IntricateandsymbolicsilverworkwasapopularformofBritishIslesart.SomefamousCelticarttreasuresofthisareaincludetheArdaghChaliceandtheTaraBrooch.Also,certainregionsandtheirpeople,likethePicts,addedtheirownparticularstamptoCelticarttraditions.AstimeprogressedintheBritishIsles,FiligreeworkdevelopedahighsophisticationandtheilluminationoftextsobtainednearlegendarystatusasinthefamedLindisfarneGospels.

    CelticartoftenmergedwithnewinfluencessuchasChristianityasevidencedbyextremelydecorativeCelticcrossessuchasthetenthcenturyMuiredachsHighCross.AsmoreIrishmonasterieswerecreated,theneedformoredecorativeobjectsgrew.

  • Forthisreason,CelticartisfrequentlyassociatedwithIrelandandelsewhereintheBritishIsles,thoughitsrichhistoryalsoencompasseslargetractsofcontinentalEurope.TheMiddleAgeswitnessedadramaticCelticRenaissanceinIrelandknownasInsularArtwhichisalsotypicallyplacedundertheumbrellaofCelticart.Yet,nomatterwhereCelticartisfound,ittendstoemploysimilartraitslikeanimalornament,geometricshapes,keypatterns,andinterlockingloopsdesignsthatareunmistakablyCeltic.

    SeeAlso:TriviaoftheAncientCelts

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