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Holiday Art Books: Van Gogh in the Asylum, Ireland’s Masterwork

“The Book of Kells” is without much question the greatest Irish work of visual art. It’s fitting that the culture that produced James Joyce’s “Ulysses’’ should also boast a masterpiece consisting largely of luxuriant, sometimes irrelevant, decoration of a text, in this case the four Gospels of the New Testament.

The original “Book of Kells” is housed at Trinity College Dublin. A new volume simply called “The Book of Kells” by Bernard Meehan (Thames & Hudson, $95, 60 pounds) is a fine introduction to this extraordinarily beautiful work.