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The Book of Kells in popular culture

Kells in popular culture

For almost two hundred years now, the Book of Kells, ‘the most Irish thing we have’, has provided inspiration to all manner of artists.

The transformation of the Book of Kells, from ‘just’ an ancient illustrated bible to both muse and national icon goes back to the mid nineteenth century. As this was the period that preceded photography, the only means of making its now famous art more widely available was through manual copying, usually with pen and watercolour.

However, with the public exhibition of the manuscript and the introduction of photography, the artwork gradually became more famous and was reproduced in all manner of contexts. As an expression of what was seen as pure ‘Celtic’ art it also took on the role of national symbol, and was used as a means of expressing ‘Irishness’.

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The Book of Kells: Exploring an Irish Medieval Masterpiece

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