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Image copyright information
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View this picture on the internet for enjoyment and inspiration Yes
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 Yes you can     No you cannot
View this picture on the internet for enjoyment and inspiration Yes
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Details: Letter T
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Details: Letter d
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Details: Letter A
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Details: Letter R
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Details: Letter O

Capital letters from Kells

Object number: ROMGH.1999.245

Type: Drawing

Material: Paper, Pen and ink, Pencil

Width: 41cm | Height: 38cm

Production date: 1920 - 1947

 Yes you can     No you cannot
Use the same Celtic patterns in your art and craft work Yes
Use this design for commercial purposes without the permission of the Copyright holder No
Commercially reproduce this object without the permission of the Copyright holder No

George Bain had a particular interest in the capital letters that were used in the Book of Kells. He studied their design and included them in his book Celtic Art, Methods of Construction. Four of these capital letters are direct copies from photos in a book on the 8th century manuscript. The D and the O on the right of the page are adaptations of Kells capital letters.

What is interesting is the choice of complexity for the designs. Three are simply decorated with small knotwork patterns, such as the R. The other three are much more complex and also include interwoven zoomorphic creatures, like the T. We can see how Bain initially sketched the letters using a soft pencil. He then confidently inked over the straight and curved lines.

See Bain's Celtic Art, Methods of Construction pages 94-95 Plates 12-13

Author: Diana Cobden

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