If your mind is anything like mine, you have wondered and imagined what important historical figures may have looked like in the flesh. Before the photograph came into play -- and even centuries before its forerunner, the Daguerrotype, came on the scene -- men and women of high status and important positions were posed for portraits by the best painters of their own days. However, when you go back far enough, you begin looking at eras where having portraits done for the sake posterity either wasn’t done, or we simply have no such portraits extant.
Today is April 23, 2014, and this is a day that marks the millennial anniversary of the epic Battle of Clontarf. 1,000 years ago on this very day, Brian Boru -- recognised as the first High King of Ireland -- led his troops into battle against the army of the King of Leinster, Máel Mórda mac Murchada. There’s plenty more about the battle itself and the after effects here within The Wild Geese community; you can check that out here.
The mind wonders about the physical appearance of a man like Brian Boru. What sort of clothing did he wear? Did he routinely wear a crown? What colour was his hair? And, surely, he had a beard? I’m not aware of any record that describes Boru’s appearance (if you know of one, let me know in the comments section below). So, any depiction of Boru is simply down to the imagination of the artist.
I thought it would be interesting to compile some of the paintings, drawings, sculptures, and the like that have been produced through the years showing artists’ concept of Ireland’s first High King. When you place a large number of these depictions together, it’s interesting to see the both the differences and similarities between the artists’ imagination of Brian Boru. Some of these are quite realistic in appearance, and others are intended to be a bit silly. I suppose there's a bit of everything in between, as well.
I hope you enjoy this collection. If you come across any others you’d like to share, please include the image in a comment below.