Ultan, Illuminator

(d. 655)


From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Was one of the many Irish scribes who worked in England. His name has been preserved in a poem on his miracles written at the beginning of the ninth century and addressed by Ethelwolf, a monk of Lindisfarne, to Bishop Egbert, then in Ireland: "Fame proclaims that many live a perfect life, of which number is he who is called by the renowned name of Ultan. This man was a blessed priest of the Scotic [i.e., Irish] nation who could adorn little books with elegant designs. . . . In this art no modern scribe could rival him, nor is it to be wondered at if a worshipper of the Lord could do such things, since the Holy Spirit, as an inspirer, guides his fingers and raises his devout mind to the stars" (Miss Stokes, "Early Christian Art in Ireland," quoting Mabillon's Acta S.S. Ord. Bened.). Leland ("Collectanea," II, 364) says of him: "Ultanus scriptor et pictor librorum erat optimus."

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