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"The Virtuous Pelican in Medieval Irish Art"
Colum Hourihane
in Virtue & vice: the personifications in the Index of Christian art, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000, 120-147

"While Gothic art in Ireland, by virtue of its close ties with England, is certainly less indigenous than the art of the early Christian period, it nevertheless still shows forms and styles that were not slavishly adopted but were also adapted. Examination of the iconography of this art can show not only how the spirit of pre-conquest Irish art was kept alive, but also that it is an art which is frequently misunderstood. A prime example of this is the misunderstanding of representations of animals, which abound in all the decorative arts of this period but which have been dismissed as merely interesting details. This paper will investigate the use and meaning of one of these animal motifs, the pelican, which is found in early medieval Irish art in a variety of media ranging from metalwork to wall painting to sculpture. Examination of this motif against its European background demonstrates once again that close ties existed between Ireland and the rest of western Europe in this period, and also shows how the Irish art of this time maintains the creative force of preceding periods." - Hourihane

Language: English

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