Saturday, 7 September 2019

insular majuscule

Though the Book of Kells is familiar enough to contemporary audiences so that its iconography and calligraphic style can be recognised and extrapolated, the ninth century national treasure on display at the Trinity College in Dublin since 1661, the character of the script, ornamentation and carpet pages filled with solid geometric patterns would not have been fixed in the imagination of the public had not it been for the efforts of one dedicated entomologist with a talent for painting to produce a volume of lithographic prints of the collected incunabula contemporary with the famous gospel.
John Obadiah Westwood (*1805 – †1893) published faithful reproductions of those illuminated manuscript but his keen and discerning eye trained to study the minute anatomy of fleas, mantises and moths was able to transmit those fine details to the casual observer above and beyond other picture book purveyors that tried to capitalise on the latest fashionable topic of study were able to do. The effectiveness of presentation of his 1868 contributed in no small part to bring about a sustained revival in Celtic culture and customs and had a profound influence on craft, arts and design in movements to come. Find a whole curated and sourced gallery of the historical pages copied as with a monk in a scriptorium working from something on loan that comprise Westwood’s survey of Anglo-Saxon and Irish at Public Domain Review at the link above.