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Pulling beards

Object number: ROMGH.1999.22

Type: Drawing

Technique: Drawn

Material: Paper, Pen and ink, Pencil

Width: 25.4cm | Height: 20.2cm

Production date: 1920 - 1962

 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 used the images in his copy of Sir Edward Sullivan’s volume on the Book of Kells to further his studies of Celtic design. This drawing is clearly the result of his looking intently at one small section of the famous Chi-Rho page from St Matthew’s Gospel.  The ‘beard pullers’ panel appears at the right of the page. 

Bain’s annotations show that he enlarged the design 7¾  times. He wanted to show clearly how the interlaced figures relate to one another. 

Bain remarks that the patterns on the figures are hard to distinguish in the photographic print of the original. It’s hardly surprising when one sees what a small element of the overall page design he is analysing.  He also draws attention to similar figures appearing in two other places in the Book of Kells. This demonstrates how widely he was scouring the Sullivan plates for decorative elements that would serve his investigative needs.

TCD MS58 folio 34r Trinity College Dublin and Sullivan, E 1920 The Book of Kells plate IX

See Bain's Celtic Art, Methods of Construction page 115, Plate 14

Author: Alastair Morton

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