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Study in continuity

Object number: ROMGH.1998.6

Type: Poster

Material: Ballpoint pen, Paper, Pencil

Width: 50.3cm | Height: 64cm

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

Bain seems to have had a particular fondness for the Rossie Priory cross-slab. It presented him with a very useful example of the continuous Pictish knotwork line with which he was almost obsessed. It also sports some very fine Pictish riders, another special interest.

This drawing seems to be the first in a series of the stone.  What is particularly interesting is that it isn’t accurate.  On the original sculpture the knotwork designs against the left and right of the central boss of the cross are asymmetrical. In this drawing Bain ‘mirrors’ the design. Why he did this is not known. Was it because he wanted to concentrate attention on the two ‘ends’ of the continuous line? Or perhaps he just hadn’t appreciated the asymmetrical treatment of the original at this stage.

We also don’t know from what sources Bain was working. The Rossie Priory stone is located west of Dundee. It’s not too far from his home in Kirkcaldy, where he stayed from 1919 to 1946. However, he uses ballpoint pens for this drawing. They weren’t in general use until after 1947, when he was living in Drumnadrochit. Perhaps he used his copy of Early Christian Monuments of Scotland by Allen and Anderson as his reference. 

See Bain's Celtic Art, Methods of Construction page 149 Plate 22 & page 55 Plate L

Author: Alastair Morton

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