Post-Roman British and Irish style of art / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Insular art, also known as Hiberno-Saxon art, was produced in the post-Roman era of Great Britain and Ireland. The term derives from insula, the Latin term for "island"; in this period Britain and Ireland shared a largely common style different from that of the rest of Europe. Art historians usually group Insular art as part of the Migration Period art movement as well as Early Medieval Western art, and it is the combination of these two traditions that gives the style its special character.
Most Insular art originates from the Irish monastic movement of Celtic Christianity, or metalwork for the secular elite, and the period begins around 600 with the combining of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon styles. One major distinctive feature is interlace decoration, in particular the interlace decoration as found at Sutton Hoo, in East Anglia. This is now applied to decorating new types of objects mostly copied from the Mediterranean world, above all the codex or book.
The finest period of the style was brought to an end by the disruption to monastic centres and aristocratic life caused by the Viking raids which began in the late 8th century. These are presumed to have interrupted work on the Book of Kells, and no later Gospel books are as heavily or finely illuminated as the masterpieces of the 8th century. In England the style merged into Anglo-Saxon art around 900, whilst in Ireland the style continued until the 12th century, when it merged into Romanesque art. Ireland, Scotland and the kingdom of Northumbria in Northern England are the most important centres, but examples were found also in southern England, Wales and in Continental Europe, especially Gaul (modern France), in centres founded by the Hiberno-Scottish mission and Anglo-Saxon missions. The influence of Insular art affected all subsequent European medieval art, especially in the decorative elements of Romanesque and Gothic manuscripts.
Surviving examples of Insular art are mainly illuminated manuscripts, metalwork and carvings in stone, especially stone crosses. Surfaces are highly decorated with intricate patterning, with no attempt to give an impression of depth, volume or recession. The best examples include the Book of Kells, Lindisfarne Gospels, Book of Durrow, brooches such as the Tara Brooch and the Ruthwell Cross. Carpet pages are a characteristic feature of Insular manuscripts, although historiated initials (an Insular invention), canon tables and figurative miniatures, especially Evangelist portraits, are also common.