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Two panels of interlaced men

Object number: ROMGH.1998.4

Type: Poster

Material: Ballpoint pen, Crayon, Paper

Width: 63.6cm | Height: 55.2cm

Production date: 1948 - 1968

 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 drew large posters like this to illustrate his Celtic art classes and lectures after he retired. He’d made simpler posters for his art students in Kirkcaldy. They remember his classroom being decorated with numerous large-scale designs.

Bain has increased the size of both illustrations around 20 times. He carefully records this alongside his drawings. Magnifying the size of the design allowed him to understand their complexity. It also meant he could see the scribe’s inconsistencies. At the bottom right corner Bain notes that one of the four figures has a white, rather than a blue thigh in the original. He corrects this in his version, interpreting the blue as trousers.

These two small panels are from different pages in the Book of Kells. We don’t know if Bain ever travelled to Dublin to see the original. But we do know that he worked from Sullivan’s Book of Kells publication. The 2nd edition, published in 1920, had 24 colour plates from various parts of the manuscript.

See Book of Kells TCD MS58 folio 130r Trinity College Dublin (detail top left) and
TCD MS58 folio 27v Trinity College Dublin (detail bottom right)


Author: Jo Clements

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