The La Tene Developed Styles

In later examples of La Tene Early Style ornament around the end of the fifth century, Celtic artists reveal a restless aspiration to imbue their work with a sense of movement, manifesting itself in what the Megaws have called a 'transformation of static into continuous design' (Megaw and Megaw, 2001, 103). This trend can be seen even within a classic Early Style assemblage like the Schwarzenbach grave-group, the openwork gold bowl from which was examined in detail earlier. A novel element of the base design (Figure 4.1A, 1) is the triskele, or three-cornered whorl, each corner ending in a circlet and the whole defining a curving-sided triangle. These are ordered nevertheless as independent elements, sharing no common sides or corners with the next triskele. Integration of the design is achieved by additional curves between the circlets of adjacent triskeles to create a simple lotus plant that does then share part of its outline with its neighbours. As if to stress the pedigree of the lotus, a stamen is inserted between its base and the border of the design. In the alternate spaces, the sides of the triskeles face each other almost as an opposed pair of S-spirals. As Jacobsthal (1944, 78) observed, therefore, the base design can be alternatively read as a chain of triskeles, or as a series of lotuses and lyres, depending on whether foreground or background is dominant. But in essence, the bowl base remains firmly a product of the Early Style.

Also part of the Schwarzenbach assemblage, however, and doubtless the product of the same workshop, are two other gold discs, possibly from drinking-horn caps, one of which in particular (Figure 4.1 A, 2) displays similar motifs to the bowl base, but executed in a fashion which anticipates the free-flowing effect of the subsequent Waldalgesheim Style. Here pairs of triskeles are joined by a common S-curve and terminal circlets, and to the next pair by sharing the third circlet. The continuous effect is enhanced by the alternate use of a connecting outer loop. Even in a classic Early Style workshop in the Rhineland, therefore, a restless process of experimentation was taking place at the end of the fifth century, which would shortly lead to the creation of new fashions.

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