Art of the Celts

Boar Standard, France, ca. 50 BCE.

Celtic art has long been a subject of fascination and this course will provide an overview of its origins and development over the course of 1000 plus years.

Basse-Yutz Flagon, France, 450 BCE.
Broighter Boat, Ireland, 100 BCE.
Desborough Mirror, 50 BCE-50 CE.

Our journey begins around 1000 BCE in Iron Age Europe, when the Celtic animal style develops under the influence of earlier nomadic tribes. During the La Tène period (500 to 100 BCE) Celtic metalwork reached a high point, as jewellery, weapons and vessels were ornamented with sophisticated abstract designs.

High Cross, Glasnevin Cemetery.
Lindisfarne Gospels, 695 CE.

Hunterston Brooch, 700-800 CE.

 As Celts became Christianized, they adapted their art to the service of the Church, resulting in such treasures as the magnificent Irish High Crosses, or the Lindesfarne Gospels, with its mesmerizing pages of intricate ornament.  Secular arts flourished too, especially in the realm of metal arts.

Archibald Knox, Cymric Vase, 1900.
Mary Seton Watts, Compton Cemetery Chapel, 1904.
Kevin Sinnot, Running Away with the Hairdresser, 1994.

We’ll examine the Celtic Revival of the l9th and early 20th centuries, including the appearance of Celtic themes and motifs in the Pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau art movements. Finally we will look at how contemporary artists express a Celtic identity in this age of globalization.

This course is taught through University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies. Future dates will be announced when available.