Celtic Art

Logan Fogarty Essay 2 Rough Draft 9/19/12 Celtic Art Art is translucent; it acts as a window into the creator’s world. Art portray not only aesthetic attributes but represents a viewpoint, a glimpse through another’s eyes via his or her creation. In Paul Jacobsthal’s article “Early Celtic Art” he takes viewers into the world of early art through the pieces created by the early Celts. Paul Jacobsthal states that, although the Celtic people were looked down upon as barbarians, their art holds no equal.
He compares Celtic art to wide renowned Scythian art that has touched and influenced the far corners of Europe. Jacobsthal states “both in absolute value, and in the importance of its influence, Celtic art is beyond doubt superior to Scythian art”. (Jacobsthal,pg 113) Although Jacobsthals’ point is clearly stated in his blatant thesis, I believe he wrote this article from a biased standpoint. He may believe Celtic art is superior to Scythian, yet its only based off his opinion. Coming from an Irish background this topic intrigues me; it’s why I choose this article.
Yet I ask myself whom is the Author trying to influence? At first I thought he was going after an audience that shows interest in ancient Celtic culture or art like I do. After finishing the article I realized the average viewer may not be able to take away the same message as someone who is trained in art analysis, or on who can formally break down a piece. Although the article narrows its audience through its subject and diction, a well-informed audience member will take away so much more than the casual reader.

After determining the intended audience, it became much easier to determine that jacobsthal was trying to persuade his audience more so then entertain. Jacobsthal establishes his viewpoint clearly in his thesis, that Celtic art is a superior art form, and then uses supporting details about specific pieces that contribute to the validity of his statement. Jacobsthal goes into fine detail about how Celtic art has not only influenced European art but has also spread into Asia as well.
Jacobsthal believes that although Celtic art was influenced by the Greek culture, it stands out in its style and dynamic precision in fine detail. The authors’ writing style is a little bewildering. For example “But the lower, a row of sickle- like curls, suggests classical analogies, while the pattern of the middle zone is classical absolutely: large lotus flowers alternating with small three- leaved palmettes which grow out of the horizontal S-shaped supporting tendrils”(Jacobsthal, pg 114).
He uses heavy artistic terms when describing specific pieces that he believes shines a light on the Celtic culture. Although I was an AP art student I found myself looking up certain terms and getting lost in the wordiness of the descriptions. Jacobsthal tends to follow the same pattern when writing this piece; he would describe several pieces then show a page of the art he just described. This pattern made the article a little less dry, but at the same time confused me when trying to compare the word descriptions on one page with the art on the next.
I believe the article would be much more successful if the reader could see the pieces as their reading the description, instead of them being separated altogether, that way the viewer can better connect to what the author is trying to persuade. The piece itself is coherent, but hard to follow at certain points. The author transitions through topics by dividing his main points with the pages of pictures. Jacobsthal makes a broad statement on Celtic art then describes certain pieces that support his statement, shows a page of the art, then transitions into a new topic and group of art.
Although this is an effective transition process, it becomes sort of repetitive and leaves the reader looking for change. One may believe that when writing a informational/ persuasive article that the author would use outside view points beside his own to show the viewer that theirs more then one person that shares the same beliefs, not in this article. The author shows little support from outside sources, which I did not enjoy, it showed me that his argument was one sided and his words were empty.
Although the author does not use outside sources to back up his argument, he lets the artwork speak for them selves. For artwork created in 800 B. C. E they are truly magnificent, from the intricate gold inlay to the creativity behind each exotic creature the comprise most of the pieces. In the end the author’s subjectivity is invalid because art’s greatness is based off ones opinion and an opinion does not translate to fact. (Logan Fogarty, pg 4) Bibliography Jacobsthal, Paul. “Early Celtic Art. ” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs Sept. 1935: 113-27. Print

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