06 January-Harry Clarke

The ‘Last Judgement’ window in St Patricks Church in Newport Co Mayo, Ireland and the windows in Bewleys Café on Grafton Street in Dublin are just two examples of the work of Harry Clarke. Clarke was a renowned stained-glass artist and illustrator of books. He created over 150 stained glass windows for religious and commercial institutions, which can be seen in Ireland and abroad.

Henry Patrick Clarke was born in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day 1889. He was educated locally and at Belvedere College on Great Denmark Street, Dublin. He left school at the age of fourteen and became apprenticed to his father’s studio on North Frederick Street.

During his apprenticeship Clarke attended the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art where he studied stained glass. As a student in 1911, he created a stained glass window depicting the Consecration of St. Mel, Bishop of Longford, by St. Patrick. The window won him a gold medal from the Board of Education National Competition.

Having completed his apprenticeship Clarke did some work in his father’s studio but he also began to work on his own commissions. His work can be seen in institutions in Ireland, Great Britain, Australia and the USA. He received a commission from the Irish Government to create a window for the International Labour Court in Geneva, Switzerland. Following its completion in 1930 however, the Irish Government rejected the window as being too scandalous and refused to have it installed in the Court in Geneva.

In 1929 Harry Clarke travelled to Switzerland for health reasons. He spent some time in a sanatorium in Davos. However Clarke’s health did not improve and he decided to return to Ireland. He died en-route in the city of Coire (Chur), Switzerland.

Harry Clarke, renowned stained-glass artist and illustrator of books, died at the age of 41 in the year 1931 On This Day.

Stained glass window, St Andrew’s church

Bewleys Cafe & Restaurant, Grafton St, Dublin

Harry Clarke, illus. for 1925 edition of Goethe’s Faust


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