Art: Gold from the Dark Ages

A trove of early Irish art comes to the U.S.

"You taught me language, and my profit on't is, I know how to curse."

Caliban's words to the intruders on his island seem uniquely fitted to one of the bleakest acts of cultural colonization in history: the English subjugation of Ireland, which began with the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1169. In the flowering of Irish monastic culture during what were once routinely called the Dark Ages, the visual arts in Ireland had reached a splendor unequaled in the rest of Europe. But war, burning and pillage destroyed most of the relics.

Illuminated codices were...

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