Preface

My interest in Celtic art arose initially during my postgraduate years under the supervision of Professor Christopher Hawkes at the Institute of Archaeology in Oxford. In 1966, as a temporary Assistant Keeper in the Ashmolean Museum, I benefited from sessions in discussion with Professor Martyn Jope, whose book on Early Celtic Art in the British Isles (2000) had just that year been advertised as forthcoming. Jope had a remarkable capacity for seeing perspectives that others missed. After studying an object for some minutes, he would ask a question that suddenly focused attention on a quite novel aspect of its ornament, always crediting the student with a perception equal to his own. In 1972, a symposium on Celtic art at the Maison Française in Oxford, at which I participated, brought together a number of senior scholars and those who were emerging as the authorities of the next generation, notably Hawkes, Piggott and Jope, Klindt-Jensen, Paul-Marie Duval, Frey and Kruta among others, the outcome of which was a stimulating if idiosyncratic volume, Celtic Art in Ancient Europe (1976), edited by Duval and Hawkes. For the next thirty years, I taught Celtic art as integral to the European and Insular Iron Age in the University of Edinburgh, and the present volume is therefore very much the product of my study of the subject over the past forty years.

Reflecting upon my teaching of Celtic art over that period, I now regret its limitations in two principal respects. First, in common with long-standing convention in Continental Europe, I too readily equated Celtic art with La Tène art. I now believe that exclusive equation to be too restricting, and it is perhaps on account of the otherwise distracting debate about Celts and Celticity in later prehistoric Europe that I felt obliged to address the question of defining Celtic art. Second, my lectures, in common again with many archaeological, as opposed to art-historical treatments of the topic, came to a conclusion with Romanization, and scarcely looked further into the early historic period. Without suggesting that Later Celtic art, or Early Christian art, is in any meaningful sense a resurgence of earlier traditions, I believe its study can usefully inform our understanding of the processes that combined to create the more outstanding manifestations of Early Celtic art. It is with these processes, social, economic and technological, and the archaeological context and environment of Celtic art, that this book is concerned, as much as with the art-historical aspects of the subject.

Any book on Celtic art plainly requires adequate illustration, and it has to be admitted that this has presented a considerable challenge. Some objects are self-evidently treasures of great technical and artistic accomplishment, and deserve colour illustration, as the publisher has generously provided. Other artefacts are less photogenic; in some cases ornament is extremely fine or barely visible through corrosion, or is such that it is hard to illuminate for photography from a single angle. In such cases it was considered better to illustrate with line-drawings rather than unsatisfactory photographs. Except where specifically acknowledged, all the line-drawings were redrawn by the author, sometimes from more than one source, for two reasons. First, it was considered preferable to have a uniform style in the drawings. Second, many published drawings, for example, of scabbard ornament, were evidently not drawn for the scale of reduction intended, with the result that detail has either bleached out or blackened in. In the present volume, all the drawings have been tested for reduction by reduced photocopies, so that the published versions should be at least as good as these, in all of which the detail survived, despite the scale of reduction. Regrettably, only a limited number are drawings from the original artefacts, so that those based upon previously published drawings or images should be regarded as interpretative rather than authoritative.

Obtaining photographic images proved more problematic than was anticipated, in some cases taking nearly a year to obtain, and in other cases never arriving at all before the book went to press. Recognizing that digital imagery has taken over from traditional photography, it is a matter of concern that so few museums seem to retain the facility or inclination to make new images on request, and even more so the implication that older photographic archives have not been maintained. I wish nevertheless to record my gratitude especially to the following individuals and institutions for their courtesy and service in providing photographic and illustrative material:

The Historisches Museum der Pfalz, Speyer, and especially Peter Haag-Kirchner, the Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte, Dresden, the Württembergisches Landesmuseum Stuttgart, the Landesdenkmalamt Stuttgart, the Hessische Landesmuseum, Darmstadt, the Swiss National Museum, Zurich, the Musée des Antiquités Nationales and the RMN Paris, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, the Musée des beaux-arts Angoulême, the Department of Prehistory and Europe and the Photography and Imaging Department of the British Museum, the Library Manuscripts Department of Trinity College Dublin, the National Museum of Ireland and especially Mr Finbarr Connolly, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, the Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe, the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, the Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte, Munich, the National Museum of Prague, the National Historical Museum of Romania, Bucharest, the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, the Museum of Antiquities of Newcastle upon Tyne, the National Museums of Scotland, the Moesgârd Museum and the National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, who were among the first to respond, the Musée historique and archéologique de l'Orléanais, the Musée Saint-Raymond, Toulouse, the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, the Landesmuseum Joanneum, Graz, the Historisches Museum, Berne, and the Musée du Chatillais, Chatillon-sur-Seine. I owe a particular debt to Prof. Dr Irwin Scollar for help in expediting the project, to Suzie and Gery Hermanau, and Dr Eberhard Sauer for help in German correspondence (not invariably comprehensible even to native speakers), to Ian Morrison for solving innumerable computer crises and to the many colleagues and friends who have encouraged me to completion. Most of all my thanks are due to my wife, Carole, who has lived with it and tolerated it for so long.

All sources are otherwise acknowledged individually with the photographs.

Finally, I should record my thanks to the University of Edinburgh for allowing me sabbatical leave in the session 2005-6 to complete the book, and to the Research Committee of the School of Arts, Culture and Environment for a subvention towards the cost of photographic material and reproduction fees.

D. W. Harding Gullane, June 2006

0 0

Post a comment