Secrets Revealed: Ireland’s Beloved Book of Kells

Revered even within its own time as the “work of an angel,” the Book of Kells is among the most spectacular illuminated manuscripts produced in the early middle-ages. The popularity of this ninth-century illuminated Gospel book, now residing at Trinity College in Dublin, is such that it attracts more than half a million visitors to its pages annually. How is it that this singular Irish manuscript, produced at the edge of medieval Europe, has captured the imaginations of so many?

In this lecture, emerging scholar of Irish visual culture Sarah Churchill discusses the enduring legacy of the Book of Kells, from the Gospel book’s inception to the present day. While Kells is celebrated as a work from the Irish “Golden Age” of monastic cultural production, this discussion seeks to contextualize the manuscript within international dimensions, highlighting the ways in which scribes and illuminators both appropriated and reinvented the Gospel’s sacred imagery. Considered here will be a discussion of production, design and iconographic meaning of Kells within the longer history of Irish art and amidst the scope of early medieval manuscript production more broadly.

Sarah Churchill is a PhD candidate and Caspersen Fellow at Drew University, where she researches twentieth-century European visual culture, with particular interests in Irish and Northern Irish art, material culture, architecture and photography. A graduate of The Irish Art Research Centre at Trinity College Dublin, Sarah has published in Gender & History and teaches Art History at Housatonic Community College. Her chapter in Crossing the Atlantic: Visual Culture at the Crossroads of Ireland and the United States (Routledge) is forthcoming.

FREE! Registration is required. Please Note: This is a virtual program via Zoom. Participants will receive a link to the program via email upon completing registration.