Harry Clarke

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For other people named Harry Clarke, see Harry Clarke (disambiguation).

Harry Clarke (March 17, 1889 – January 6, 1931) was an Irish stained-glass artist and book illustrator. Born in Dublin, he was a leading figure in the Irish Arts and Crafts Movement.


Clarke's illustration for Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum".

The son of a craftsman, Joshua Clarke, Clarke the younger was exposed to art (and in particular Art Nouveau) at an early age. He went to school in Belvedere College in Dublin. By his late teens, he was studying stained glass at the Dublin Art School. While there his The Consecration of St. Mel, Bishop of Longford, by St. Patrick won the gold medal for stained glass work in the 1910 Board of Education National Competition.

Completing his education in his main field, Clarke traveled to London, where he sought employment as a book illustrator. Picked up by London publisher Harrap, he started with two commissions which were never completed: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (his work on which was destroyed during the 1916 Easter Rising) and an illustrated edition of Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock.

"They danced with shawls that were woven of mist and moonshine" - one of Clarke's illustrations for Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen (1916).

Difficulties with these projects made Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen his first printed work, however, in 1916—a title that included 16 colour plates and more than 24 halftone illustrations. This was closely followed by an illustrations for an edition of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination: the first version of that title was restricted to halftone illustrations, while a second iteration with 8 colour plates and more than 24 halftone images was published in 1923.

The latter of these made his reputation as a book illustrator (this was during the golden age of gift-book illustration in the first quarter of the twentieth century: Clarke's work can be compared to that of Aubrey Beardsley, Kay Nielsen, and Edmund Dulac). It was followed by editions of The Years at the Spring, containing 12 colour plates and more than 14 monotone images; (Lettice D'O. Walters, ed., 1920), Charles Perrault's Fairy Tales of Perrault, and Goethe's Faust, containing 8 colour plates and more than 70 halftone and duotone images (New York: Hartsdale House,1925). The last of these is perhaps his most famous work, and prefigures the disturbing imagery of 1960s psychedelia.

Two of his most sought-after titles include promotional booklets for Jameson Irish Whiskey: A History of a Great House (1924, and subsequent reprints) and Elixir of Life (1925), which was written by Geofrey Warren.

His final book was Selected Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne, which was published in 1928. In the meantime, he had also been working hard in stained glass, producing more than 130 windows, he and his brother, Walter, having taken over his father's studio after his death in 1921.

A Harry Clarke window depicting Saint Patrick preaching to his disciples, commissioned in 1925 for St. Michael's Church in Ballinasloe

Stained glass is central to Clarke's career. His glass is distinguished by the finesse of its drawing, unusual in the medium, his use of rich colours (inspired by an early visit to see the stained glass of the Cathedral of Chartres, he was especially fond of deep blues), and an innovative integration of the window leading as part of the overall design (his use of heavy lines in his black and white book illustrations is probably derived from his glass techniques).

Clarke's stained glass work includes many religious windows but also much secular stained glass. Highlights of the former include the windows of the Honan Chapel in University College Cork, of the latter, a window illustrating John Keats' The Eve of St. Agnes (now in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery in Dublin) and the Geneva Window. Perhaps his most seen work was the windows of Bewley's Café on Dublin's Grafton Street.

Unfortunately, ill health plagued both the Clarke brothers, and worn down by the pace of their work, and perhaps the toxic chemicals used in stained glass production, both died within a year of each other—Harry second in early 1931, of tuberculosis while trying to recuperate in Switzerland.

Clarke's work was influenced by both the passing Art Nouveau and coming Art Deco movements. His stained glass was particularly informed by the French Symbolist movement.One of Harry Clarke's stained glass works is on display at The Little Museum of Dublin [1]

List of Leaded Glass Windows (By Harry Clarke himself)[edit]

At St. Patricks Purgatory, Lough Derg, Donegal. 1927-28.

  1. Apostle Peter- Jesus is condemned to death.
  2. St. Paul- Jesus takes up his cross.
  3. Apostle Andrew- Jesus Falls the first time.
  4. Apostle John The Evangelist- Simon helps Jesus to carry his cross.
  5. Apostle Philip- Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.
  6. Apostle Bartholmew- Jesus Falls the second time.
  7. Apostle Thomas- The Women of Jerusalem weep for Jesus.
  8. Apostle Matthew- Jesus falls the third time.
  9. Apostle James the Less- Jesus is stripped of his clothes.
  10. Apostle Thaddeus- Jesus is nailed to the cross.
  11. Apostle Simon- Jesus dies on the cross.
  12. St. Matthias- The body of Jesus is taken from the Cross.
  13. Our Blessed Lady- The body of Jesus is laid in the tomb.[1]

Laurence Ambrose Waldron 9 Frieze Windows based on J.M.Synge poem 'Queens'. 1917

  1. Queens of Sheba, Meath and Connaught.
  2. Queens men drew like Monna Lisa.
  3. Lucrenzia Crivelli.
  4. Queens in Glenmacnass.
  5. Etain, Helen Maeve and Fand.
  6. Bert.
  7. Queens who cut the bogs of Glanna.
  8. Queens who wasted the East by proxy.
  9. Queen of all are living or have been.[2]

Kilbride Church, Co. Wicklow.

Castletownshend Church, Co. Cork. 1918- 1920

1. The Nativity. 1918.

2. St. Louis IX and St. Martin of Tours dividing his Cloak for a Beggar. 1920.

3. St. Luke. 1926.

Courtmacsherry Church. 1929-1930

1. Holy Family and Flight into Egypt.

2. Coronation of the Virgin.

3. Assumption.

4. Christ meets his mother.

5. Miracle of Cana.

6. Death of St. Joseph.

Carricknacross Church, Co. Monaghan. 1925.

1. St. Oliver Plunkett.

2. St. Rita.

3. St. Laurence O'Toole.

4. St. Dabhac.

5. Death of Our Lady.

6. Entombment of Christ.

7. St. Kieran.

8. Death of St. Joseph.

9. Death of St. Patrick.

10. St. Dympna. [3]

Chapel, Exton Park, Rutland, England.

St. Mary's Church, Sturminster Newton, Dorset. 1920-21.

Our Lady and child, with St. Elizabeth and St. Barbara.

Holy Trinity Church, Killiney. (C.of I.) 1919.

Angel of Hope and Peace.

St. Michael and St. John Cloughjordan, County Tipperary. 1924.

The ascension with 5 Irish saints and St. Michael and St. James.

Ballinrobe Church, Co. Mayo. 1926.

1. St. Fursey and St. Fechin.

2. St. Colman and St. Brendan.

3. St. Gormgall and St. Kieran.

4. St. Enda and St. Jarleth.

5. Assumption and Coronation of B.V.M.

6. Presentation in the Temple and Immaculate Conception.

7. Ecce Homo and Magdalen in the Garden.

8. Baptism of Christ and Ascension.

9. St. Patrick, St. Brigid and St. Colmcille.

St. Mary's Church, Nantwich, Cheshire.

1. Madonna and Child. Representing motherhood and sacrifice. [4]

2. St. Cecelia with birds and flowers. Representing music. [5]

3. Richard Coeur de Lion.

4. St. Adrian.

5. St. Clare.

6. St. Francis of Assisi

7. Mary Magdalen.

8. St. Brigid.

9. St. Nicholas.

St. Peter's Church, Phibsborough. (R.C.) 1919.

1. Apparition of the Sacred Heart. South Aisle.

2. Mary Magdalen. In the Mortuary Chapel.

3. St. John.

Castleknock Church, Dublin. (C. of I.) 1928.

1. St. Luke.

2. St. George.

3. St. Hubert.

Church of the Assumption, Bride Street, Wexford. (R.C.)1919.

1. Our Lady and Child.

2. Adored by Saints Adrian and Aiden. (also described as Breen.)[6]

Honan Chapel, University College, Cork. 1915-1917. Described by Brian Fallon as 'Awesome, hieratic, Neo-Byzantine quality."

1. St. Brigid.

2. St.Patrick

3. St. Colmcille

4. St. Gobnait.

5. St. Ita.

6. St. Declan.

7. St. Finnbarr

8. St. Albert

9. Our Lady Queen of heaven.

10. St Joseph. [7]

Consecration of St. Mel Bishop of Longford. At St. Mel's Cathedral, Longford.

St. Joseph's Church, Terenure, Dublin. (R.C.).

1. The Annunciation. 1922.

2. Our Lady Queen of Heaven.1923.

Described as 'Adoration of the Cross'. [8]

Windows designed for Rathfarnham Castle, now in Tullamore Church. (R.C.) 1927-1928.

1. St. Peter and St. Paul.

2. St.Brendan.

3. St.Patrick and St.Benignus

4. St.Ignatius.

5. Sacred Heart.

6. St.Joseph and Our Lady.

7. Christ's Wounds. [9]

Balbriggan Church, Co. Dublin. 1923.

The Visitation.

St. Macaulind's Church, Lusk. 1924.

St. Macaulind holding a replica of the new church. (Note the artists self-portrait among the afflicted.)

Also symbolic windows.

Chapel of the Novitiate of the Oblate Fathers of St. Mary Immaculate, Belcamp, Raheny, Co. Dublin. 1925.

1.St. Brendan at the helm of his boat.

2. St. Malachy.(Also known as St. Maol M'Aodhog.)

3. St. Kevin in his cave at Glendalough.

4. St. Laurence O'Toole in the ancient city of Dublin. (Also known as Lorcon.)

5. St. Colmcille.

6. St. Duileach.

7. St. Damhnait.

8. St. Brigid.

9. St. Brigid.

10. St. Eithne and St. Fedhlim.

11. St. Gobnait.

12. St. Patrick.

13. St. Oliver Plunkett. [10]

Newport, Church, Co. Mayo. (R.C) 1927.

Last Judgement.

Tullycross Church, Renvyle, Co. Galway. 1927.

1. St. Barbara.

2. St. Bernard.

3. Apparition of the Sacred Heart.

All Saints Church, Penarth, Cardiff.

1. St. Michael.

2. St. Gabriel.

Laragh Church, Co. Wicklow. 1928-29.

10 clerestory windows.

Killaloe Church. R.C. 1927.

1. The Presentation of Our Lord.

2. Annunciation and Flight into Egypt.

Kildare Cathedral.

St. Hubert.

Carnalway Church, north east of Kilcullen, Co. Kildare. 1922

St. Hubert.

Parish Church, Gorey, Co. Wexford. 1922-23.

1. St. Stephen.

2. St. Martin of Tours.

Sandford Road Church, Ranelagh, Dublin.

St. Peter and St. Paul.

Bewleys Cafe, 78,Grafton Street, Dublin.

Decorative windows.

Donabate Church, Co. Dublin. (R.C.) 1926.

Suffer little Children to come unto me.

Ballylooby Church, south west of Cahir, Co. Tipperary. 1925.

Beheading of St. John the Baptist.

Vision of Bernadette of Lourdes.

Sacred Heart Church, Donnybrook, Dublin. (R.C.) 1924.

St. Rita and St. Bernard.

Geneva Window.

Eve of St. Agnes. 1923. Illustration of John Keats' poem.

a) Numb were the Beardsman's fingers.

b) At length burst in.......

c) Meantime, across the moors....

d) Behind a broad hall pillar.....

e) Follow me child...

f) Madelaine.....

g)Full on this casement....

h) These delicates....

i) Still she beheld....

j) 'Tis dark....

k) Awake! Arise!....

l) The arras, rich with horsemen...

m) The key turns.....

n) ...ages long ago...

List of Leaded Glass Windows (By the Harry Clarke Studio)[edit]

Catholic Church- Templemore.

Clontarf Presbyterian Church. 1919.

1. Pieta also described as Resurrection and Deposition. This is a war memorial.

2. Ascension.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Exhibition at Royal Hospital, Kilmainham,1990
  2. ^ Harry Clarke, Monograph and catalogue 12 November to 8 December 1979 The Douglas Hyde Gallery,
  3. ^ Shell Guide To Ireland P. 94.
  4. ^ Nicola Gordon Bowe.
  5. ^ Nicola Gordon Bowe
  6. ^ Shell Guide to Ireland P.305.
  7. ^ Douglas Hyde Gallery Exhibition 1979.
  8. ^ Shell Guide to Ireland. P.166
  9. ^ Shell Guide to Ireland P.297.
  10. ^ Shell Guide to Ireland.


  • Nicola Gordon Bowe. 1994. The Life and Work of Harry Clarke (Irish Academic Press)
  • Martin Moore Steenson. 2003. A Bibliographical Checklist of the Work of Harry Clarke (Books & Things)
  • John J Doherty. 2003. Harry Clarke - Darkness In Light A film on the life and work of Harry Clarke (Camel Productions)
  • Lucy Costigan and Michael Cullen. 2010. Strangest Genius: The Stained Glass of Harry Clarke (The History Press Ireland)

External links[edit]