“An Angel, Butterfly, and Spirals in the Book of Kells”
A detail of the Chi Rho illumination in a manuscript of the Gospels. An angel faces forward and holds onto vines. What is perhaps a butterfly radiates with red dots. Celtic spirals ornament the arm of the letter ‘X’.
Black ink, colored pigment, and gold leaf on vellum.
Made in the late 8th century at Iona Abbey in Ireland by Celtic monks. The Book of Kells (as it is known) is perhaps the most famous work of Christian Celtic, Insular, and Early Irish art. Moved to the Abbey of Kells in the 10th century and sent to Dublin during Cromwell’s invasion in the 17th century. Currently on display at Trinity College in Dublin.
"This work idealizes the Prince’s face and body when, in fact, he was born with grave physical and psychological malformations that may have been due to his parents’ inbreeding. Both his clothing —a cape lined with lynx fur and a yellow jerkin— and his frontal pose help to disguise these characteristics."