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Celtic Art and Illuminated Manuscripts

The ancient Celts were famed for their intricate knotwork and metalworking, rich in fantastical creatures and Celtic symbols, hundreds of years before Christ.

The Irish monks of the "dark" and early middle ages drew on the Celtic symbols, an incredibly rich artistic heritage, originally carved in stone and etched in metal, now painted on vellum in subtle colors, to produce the most beautiful books ever made.

Their dedication to honoring and preserving the Word of God and their long apprenticeship in the Celtic arts combined to gift the world with a priceless treasure - the illuminated manuscripts of Ireland and Northumbria.

Buy Books about Celtic Art and Illuminated Manuscripts
Celtic Art
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Celtic Art: From Its Beginnings to the Book of Kells
by M. Ruth Megaw, et al


The Megaws survey Celtic art from prehistoric times through the Book of Kells. Understanding the medieval monk's Celtic heritage and worldview is indispensable to understanding the meaning and beauty of the illuminated manuscripts. An excellent art, history, archeology book - maps and illustrations.
The Golden Age of Irish Art
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The Golden Age of Irish Art: The Medieval Achievement, 600-1200
by Peter Harbison


The artists and craftsmen of medieval Ireland produced the most beautiful illuminated manuscripts and metalwork ever seen. Author Harbison, an art historian, has done a tremendous job of documenting their achievements in this gloriously illustrated book. Very nice, very expensive.
The Illuminated Page
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The Illuminated Page: Ten Centuries of Manuscript Painting in the British Library
by Janet Backhouse


Numerous full-color photographs and text covering the history of illuminated manuscripts - beautifully done and affordable. The reviews are outstanding. A terrific purchase if you want an excellent overview of this art form.
A History of Illuminated Manuscript
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A History of Illuminated Manuscript
by Christopher de Hamel


The author researches books at Sotheby's and is well-qualified to write this readable and informative art history. Covering all of Europe, he discusses how and why the illuminated manuscript texts were created, their purpose and meaning. Beautifully illustrated, of course.
Illuminated Manuscripts and Their Makers
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Illuminated Manuscripts and Their Makers
by Rowan Watson


This splendid volume, featuring some of the finest illuminated masterpieces from the exceptional collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, details the remarkable collaboration and craftsmanship that went into the creation of these delicate treasures.

Close-up details show the intricacies of the various techniques used to create these fragile and rarely seen works. By helping the reader to appreciate the individual elements of illumination--the initials, borders, illustrations, script, and binding--Rowan Watson brings the world of the scribes, illuminators, and book dealers to life, and sheds light on the cooperative religious communities in which many of them worked.
The Book of Kells
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The Book of Kells: An Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript in Trinity College Dublin
by Bernard Meehan


From the Book Description: "this fine, small book ... offer(s) 110 color illustrations, including dozens of enlargements, that permit the reader to ponder the excruciatingly complex ornamentation which makes the Book a masterpiece of Celtic interlacing. Meehan, keeper of manuscripts at Trinity College Dublin ... provides commentary about the Book's background, its motifs and themes, and even the material from which it is constructed." Very reasonably priced, the illustrations are excellent.
The Book of Kells : Selected Plates in Full Color
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The Book of Kells: Selected Plates in Full Color
by Blumette and Blanche Cirker


Thirty-two full-page, full-color illustrations from the Book of Kells. A lovely sampling of the artwork in a size that works (book is about 10" x 13"). This is a very inexpensive introduction to the Book of Kells.
The Lindisfarne Gospels
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The Lindisfarne Gospels
by Janet Backhouse


A short and lively history of the Holy Ilse of Lindisfarne in Northumbia - it's founding, who the monks were, how and when they produced the beautiful Lindisfarne gospels, and the story of the gospels in detail - text, script, initials, etc. Gorgeously illustrated. A wonderful book for anyone interested in Celtic illuminated manuscripts.
Kells Coloring Book
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Color Your Own Book of Kells
by Marty Noble


These captivating reproductions from one of the most beautiful books of the early Middle Ages offer hours of coloring pleasure. Thirty full-page reproductions of artwork depict eye-catching borders filled with Celtic spirals and interlacings, celestial figures, saints, members of the Holy Family, Celtic crosses, and other finely detailed floral, animal, human, and fantastic elements. Choose your own color schemes, or follow the guides to the original colors (all images are shown in full color on the covers). Captions identify each work of art.