Of all the artists associated with the Celtic Revival movement in Scotland, John Duncan is perhaps the most important. He can clearly be seen as having an integral part in the Symbolist movement in Dundee, his home town. Studying in London, Dusseldorf, Antwerp and Rome, he settled in Edinburgh in 1892, where he was to meet the highly influential Patrick Geddes, the father figure of the Celtic Revival movement. Making his living from commissions decorating churches and designing stained glass, his art was influenced by Pre-Raphaelite tradition and his interest in Celtic myth and legend.
Duncan was commissioned to produce a reredos depicting Christ in Glory, four Archangels, and eight Northern Saints, of which the above works form part of. He worked at Sneaton Castle, taking inspiration and guidance from the priory community to produce a striking triptych which reconciles the religious content with Celtic and historical motifs and a universally decorative appeal. Duncan was present when the altarpiece was dedicated.
St. Colman was an Irish monk who lived in a cave for seven years as a hermit, before founding the monastery at Kilmanduagh. St. Bee was a nun from Cumberland originally from Ireland.