Studio: international art — 14.1898

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bridge, have been singled out by Mr. Ruskin as
examples of the lowest depths of degradation it is
possible to reach in portraying the human form
divine. It is evident, then, that Irish art did not
remain stationary, but was steadily advancing
towards perfection both in sculpture and architec-
ture in the tenth and eleventh centuries, and had
not the Norman invasion of Strongbow crushed
the Celtic genius we might have witnessed a native
style attaining the highest degree of perfection.

The cross of Muireadach is inscribed at the base
of the shaft, “ Or do Muireadach las andernad in
chrossa” (“Pray for Muireadach by whom this
cross was made ”). This is in all probability the
Muireadach, son of Flann, Abbot of Monasterboice,
who died in a.d. 924. We have described this
monument rather fully because it is one of the few
specimens with a well-authenticated date, affording
a good landmark in the study of Celtic art. There
are two other crosses at Monasterboice, one of them
the loftiest monument of the kind in Ireland, being
nearly 22 feet high, and the other much smaller,
and decorated with a cross of spiral work only.

The cross of King Flann at Clonmacnois, King’s
Co. (Fig. 8), is inscribed with the names of King
Flann, son of Malachy and Colman, Abbot of
Clonmacnois, both of whom died a.d. 904. It is
of the same period and style as the cross of Muire-
adach at Monasterboice, but the figures all have a
nimbus round the head, perhaps indicating Byzan-
tine influence. The other cross at Clonmacnois
has only ornament upon it and no figure subjects.
On one of the panels there is foliage like that on
the sculptured stones of Northumbria and Mercia,
a proof that the art is not purely Irish, but was in-
debted to Saxon England for some of its motives.

Another great collection of crosses is to be seen
at Kells, Co. Meath. This place is celebrated
from its association with St. Columba, and from
the “ Book of Kells ” having been written there.

The cross of SS. Patrick and Columba (Fig. 9),
so called because it bears an inscription showing
that it was dedicated to these two saints, stands in
the churchyard at Kells near the Round Tower.
It is decorated with figure subjects and ornament.
Amongst the subjects are the Crucifixion, Christ
in Glory, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, the Sacrifice of
Isaac, the Three Children in the Fiery Furnace,
Adam and Eve, and David and the Lion. On the
shaft below the Crucifixion will be noticed figures
of men placed swastika fashion, a design peculiar
to Celtic art.

The cross shown on Fig. 10 stands in the prin-
cipal street of the town of Kells. It has been

greatly mutilated. There are some nice bits of
interlaced work on the quadrants of the rings con-
necting the arms, and an interesting series of Scrip-
tural figure subjects on the shaft, including Adam
and Eve and the Soldiers at the Sepulchre. On
the base are to be noticed hunting and battle
scenes and a very remarkable group of centaurs
and other fabulous creatures.

The third cross at Kells (Fig. 11) is in the
churchyard, where it has been re-erected by the
Irish Office of Works. It is an unique instance of
a cross in a half-finished state, and from which we
are able to learn the technical methods adopted by
the sculptor in executing his design.

The remaining monument at Kells is a cross-
shaft and base also in the churchyard. It has
upon its narrow faces some good interlaced work,
key patterns and spirals, and upon the broad faces
panels of figure subjects, amongst which Noah in
the Ark and the Baptism of Christ are the most

Having given a general idea of the early Chris-
tian sculptured monuments of Ireland, we hope in
a second article to compare them with those in
other parts of Great Britain, and to show the
different local varieties in the shapes of the monu-
ments and the patterns used in their decoration.

We are indebted to Mr. T. Mansel Franklen for
kind permission to make use of his beautiful photo-
graphs of some of the Irish crosses.

Henry O’Neill’s work on the Irish crosses has
long been out of print, so that it may be worth
mentioning that Miss Margaret Stokes, the well-
known writer on early Christian art in Ireland, is
engaged in the preparation of an elaborate mono-
graph on these ancient monuments, which will
shortly be published as one of the Cunningham
memoirs of the Royal Irish Academy.


Amongst the things I opened on New
Year’s morning was a big brown en-
velope addressed to me in the handwriting of the
Editor of The Studio. It contained what, at the
first moment, I presumed were two original draw-
ings by that engaging Frenchman, Forain. I be-
thought me, “ What a pretty etrenne ! Doubtless,”
I reflected, “ the Editor of The Studio, wishing to
pleasantly remember the circumstance that another
year has somehow passed over my tired head—
that I have survived a hundred calamities, and the
printed disapproval of a well-known critic—doubt-
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