Turcán, Sculptor

(fl. late 9th and early 10th century)


From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Supposed to have been the sculptor of many of the monumental slabs and of the cross erected over the grave of King Flann at Clonmacnois. Writing of Clonmacnois in the ninth century, Professor Macalister says: "At the end of the century an artist in sculpture lived here whose work and influence can be traced far beyond the confines of his lifetime and immediate surroundings. There is some reason for believing that the name of this worker was Turcán; to his hand is to be assigned, for various reasons, the finest of the monumental slabs in the cemetery; and it is not improbable that he is also the sculptor of the splendid cross of St. Flann. . . . . Flann died in 915 and was buried in the graveyard; over his grave the abbot erected the magnificent cross for long after known as the 'Cross of the Scriptures,' on account of its wealth of symbolic and illustrative carving. On one face we see the Crucifixion, and underneath it panels representing the betrayal by Judas, the seizure of Christ and the soldiers guarding his tomb. The other face shows the Last Judgment, the Resurrection and other events. The sides likewise bear sculptured scenes. There are in all over fifty figures carved on the shaft and head of the cross, and various symbolic and ornamental carvings surround and supplement the sculptured panels" ("Cluain Maccu Nois," by R. A. Macalister, M.A.). Of Turcán's other works at Clonmacnois the finest is the grave slab of Fiachra, decorated with an ingenious and original design of spirals.

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