Harry Clarke (17 March 1889 – 6 January 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.

Early life

Henry Patrick (Harry) Clarke was born 17 March 1889, younger son and third child of Joshua Clarke and Brigid Clarke (née MacGonigal).[1] Church decorator Joshua Clarke moved to Dublin from Leeds in 1877 and started a decorating business Joshua Clarke & Sons, which later incorporated a stained glass division. Through his work with his father, Clarke was exposed to many schools of art but Art Nouveau in particular.

Clarke was educated at the Model School in Marlborough Street, Dublin and Belvedere College, which he left in 1905. He was devastated by the death of his mother in 1903, when he was only 14 years old.[2] [3] Clarke was then apprenticed into his father's studio, and attended evening classes in the Metropolitan College of Art and Design. 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.[1]

At the art school in Dublin, Clarke met fellow artist and teacher Margaret Crilley.[1] They married on 31 October 1914 and moved into a flat at 33 North Frederick Street. They had three children, Michael, David and Ann.[1]


Illustration for The year's at the spring; an anthology of recent poetry (1920)

Book illustration

Clarke moved to London to seek work as a book illustrator. Picked up by London publisher Harrap,[3] he started with two commissions which were never completed: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (much of his work on which was destroyed during the 1916 Easter Rising) and an illustrated edition of Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock.[4]

Difficulties with these projects made Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen his first printed work, in 1916. It included 16 colour plates and more than 24 halftone illustrations. This was 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 with eight colour plates and more than 24 halftone images was published in 1923.[4] This 1923 edition made his reputation as a book illustrator, 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, with 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, with eight colour plates and more than 70 halftone and duotone images (New York: Hartsdale House,1925). The last of these is his most famous work, prefiguring the disturbing imagery of 1960s psychedelia.[4] Two of his most sought-after titles are 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, Selected Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne, was published in 1928.[1]

Stained glass

Clarke also continued to work 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.[1] His glass is distinguished by the finesse of its drawing and his use of rich colours, and an innovative integration of the window leading as part of the overall design, originally inspired by an early visit to see the stained glass of the Cathedral of Chartres. He was especially fond of deep blues. Clarke's use of heavy lines in his black-and-white book illustrations echoes his glass techniques.[4]

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, (now in the Wolfsonian Museum, Miami, Florida, USA).[4] Perhaps his most seen works were the windows he made for Bewley's Café on Dublin's Grafton Street.[1]

Later years and death

Both Harry and his brother Walter were plagued with ill health, in particular problems with their lungs.[4] Clarke was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1929, and went to a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland.[1] Fearing that he would die abroad, he began his journey back to Dublin in 1931, but died on this journey on 6 January 1931 in Chur where he was buried. A headstone was erected; but local law required that the family pledge to maintain the grave 15 years after the death. This was not explained to the Clarke family and Harry Clarke's remains were disinterred in 1946 and reburied in a communal grave.[5][1][6]


List of leaded glass windows (by Harry Clarke)

Building Location Year Details Notes
St. Patrick's Purgatory[7] Lough Derg, County Donegal 1927–28 iicApostle Peter – Jesus is condemned to death
St. Paul – Jesus takes up his cross
Apostle Andrew – Jesus Falls the first time
Apostle John The Evangelist – Simon helps Jesus to carry his cross
Apostle Philip – Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
Apostle Bartholomew – Jesus Falls the second time
Apostle Thomas – The Women of Jerusalem weep for Jesus
Apostle Matthew – Jesus falls the third time
Apostle James the Less – Jesus is stripped of his clothes
Apostle Thaddeus – Jesus is nailed to the cross
Apostle Simon – Jesus dies on the cross
St. Matthias – The body of Jesus is taken from the Cross
Our Blessed Lady – The body of Jesus is laid in the tomb
Laurence Ambrose Waldron House[8] Dublin 1917 Queens of Sheba, Meath and Connaught 9 Frieze Windows based on J.M. Synge poem 'Queens'
Queens men drew like Monna Lisa
Lucrenzia Crivelli
Queens in Glenmacnass
Etain, Helen Maeve and Fand
Queens who cut the bogs of Glanna
Queens who wasted the East by proxy
Queen of all are living or have been
Eneriley and Kilbride Church Arklow, County Wicklow Resurrection window
Castletownshend Church County Cork 1918–20 The Nativity 1918
St. Louis IX and St. Martin of Tours dividing his Cloak for a Beggar 1920
St. Luke 1926
Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Timoleague County Cork 1929–30 Holy Family and Flight into Egypt
Coronation of the Virgin
Christ meets his mother
Miracle of Cana
Death of St. Joseph
Carrickmacross Church[9] County Monaghan 1925 St. Oliver Plunkett
St. Rita
St. Laurence O'Toole
St. Dabhac
Death of Our Lady
Entombment of Christ
St. Kieran
Death of St. Joseph
Death of St. Patrick
St. Dympna
Chapel of the Noel Family Exton Park, Rutland, England 1926 Blessed Oliver Plunkett and Blessed Thomas More
St. Mary's Church Sturminster Newton, Dorset 1920–21 Our Lady and child, with St. Elizabeth and St. Barbara
Holy Trinity Church Killiney, Dublin 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 County Mayo 1926 St. Fursey and St. Fechin
St. Colman and St. Brendan
St. Gormgall and St. Kieran
St. Enda and St. Jarleth
Assumption and Coronation of Blessed Virgin Mary
Presentation in the Temple and Immaculate Conception
Ecce Homo and Magdalen in the Garden
Baptism of Christ and Ascension
St. Patrick, St. Brigid and St. Colmcille
St. Mary's Church Nantwich, Cheshire, England 1920 Madonna and Child Representing motherhood and sacrifice[6]
St. Cecelia with birds and flowers Representing music
Richard Coeur de Lion
St. Adrian
St. Clare
St. Francis of Assisi
Mary Magdalen
St. Brigid
St. Nicholas
St. Peter's Church Phibsborough, Dublin 1919 Apparition of the Sacred Heart South Aisle
Mary Magdalen In the Mortuary Chapel
St. John
Castleknock Church Dublin 1928 St. Luke
St. George
St. Hubert
Church of the Assumption Bride Street, Wexford 1919 Our Lady and Child
Adored by Saints Adrian and Aiden Also described as Breen[10]
Honan Chapel[11] University College, Cork 1915–17 St. Brigid Described by Brian Fallon as 'Awesome, hieratic, Neo-Byzantine quality."
St. Patrick
St. Colmcille
St. Gobnait
St. Ita
St. Declan
St. Finnbarr
St. Albert
Our Lady Queen of heaven
St. Joseph
St. Mel's Cathedral Longford Consecration of St. Mel as Bishop of Longford
St. Joseph's Church Terenure, Dublin 1922–23 The Annunciation 1922
Our Lady Queen of Heaven 1923. Described as 'Adoration of the Cross'[12]
Tullamore Church County Offaly 1927–28 St. Peter and St. Paul Windows originally designed for Rathfarnham Castle[13]
St. Brendan
St. Patrick and St. Benignus
St. Ignatius
Sacred Heart
St. Joseph and Our Lady
Christ's Wounds
Balbriggan Church County Dublin 1923 The Visitation
St. Macaulind's Church Lusk, County Dublin 1924 St. Macaulind holding a replica of the new church. The artists self-portrait among the afflicted
Symbolic windows
Chapel of the Novitiate of the Oblate Fathers of St. Mary Immaculate[14] Belcamp College, Balgriffin, County Dublin 1925 St. Brendan at the helm of his boat
St. Malachy. Also known as St. Maol M'Aodhog
St. Kevin in his cave at Glendalough
St. Laurence O'Toole in the ancient city of Dublin Also known as Lorcon
St. Colmcille
St. Duileach
St. Damhnait
St. Brigid
St. Eithne and St. Fedhlim
St. Gobnait
St. Patrick
St. Oliver Plunkett
Newport Church County Mayo 1927 Last Judgement
Tullycross Church Renvyle, County Galway 1927 St. Barbara
St. Bernard
Apparition of the Sacred Heart
All Saints Church Penarth, Cardiff, Wales St. Michael
St. Gabriel
Laragh Church County Wicklow 1928–29 10 clerestory windows
Killaloe Church County Clare 1927 The Presentation of Our Lord.
Annunciation and Flight into Egypt
Cathedral Church of St. Brigid Kildare St. Hubert
Carnalway Church Kilcullen, County Kildare 1922 St. Hubert
Parish Church Gorey, County Wexford 1922–23 St. Stephen
St. Martin of Tours
Sandford Road Church Ranelagh, Dublin St. Peter and St. Paul
Bewleys Café 78 Grafton Street, Dublin 1928 Decorative windows
Donabate Church County Dublin 1926 Suffer little Children to come unto me
Ballylooby Church Cahir, County Tipperary 1925 Beheading of St. John the Baptist
Vision of Bernadette of Lourdes
Church of Sacred Heart Donnybrook, Dublin 1924 St. Rita and St. Bernard
Wolfsonian Museum Miami, Florida, USA 1930 Geneva Window Commissioned for the International Labour Building, League of Nations, Geneva
The Hugh Lane Gallery Dublin 1923 Eve of St. Agnes 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)

Building Location Year Details Notes
Catholic Church Templemore
Clontarf Presbyterian Church Dublin 1919 Pieta Also described as Resurrection and Deposition. This is a war memorial.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Andrews, Helen; White, Lawrence William (2009). "Clarke, Harry (Henry Patrick)". In McGuire, James; Quinn, James. Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  2. ^ The Irish genius behind the world's most iconic stained glass windows Irish Central, June 5, 2016
  3. ^ a b "About Harry Clarke (1889-1931)". The Hugh Lane Gallery. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Costigan, Lucy; Cullen, Michael (2010). Strangest Genius: The Stained Glass of Harry Clarke. Dublin: The History Press Ireland. ISBN 9781845889715. 
  5. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=110618670
  6. ^ a b Nicola Gordon Bowe. 1994. The Life and Work of Harry Clarke (Irish Academic Press)
  7. ^ Exhibition at Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, 1990.
  8. ^ Harry Clarke, Monograph and catalogue, 12 November to 8 December 1979, The Douglas Hyde Gallery.
  9. ^ Shell Guide To Ireland, p.94.
  10. ^ Shell Guide to Ireland, p.305.
  11. ^ Douglas Hyde Gallery Exhibition, 1979.
  12. ^ Shell Guide to Ireland, p.166
  13. ^ Shell Guide to Ireland, p.297
  14. ^ Shell Guide to Ireland.

Further reading

  • 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