Ireland Illuminated (Book of Kells; Art & Travel to Ireland)

Cher’s Famous Art

06 May 2020

‘Chi-Rho’ page from the Book of Kells

c. 800, Ireland, Medieval

My university Intercultural Studies Class was scheduled to climax a semester long study of Ireland with a trip to this fabulous country. Those plans were abruptly changed due to the world-wide pandemic when the world, literally and figuratively, shut down.

The trip to Ireland May 4-14, 2020 had to be postponed until 2021. This extra entry is to honor them.

Illuminated manuscripts such as this flourished during the Middle Ages when art, literature and culture were kept alive by the monks in Medieval European monasteries when literacy had all but disappeared.

Chi Rho page from the Book of Kells

One of the most famous is this opening page of the Gospel of St. Matthew in the Book of Kells, currently in Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Titled the ‘Chi-rho-iota’ (XPI) page, it commemorates the birth of Christ. The unknown painter transformed the biblical text into abstract patterns, literally making God’s words beautiful.  Embellished script and abstract patterns, half-figures of winged angels appear to the left of the “chi” accompanying the monograph of Christ.

It was created with tempera paint on vellum (calf skin); it is 1’1” x 91/2”

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