Friday, August 23, 2013

The Skinny: Harry Clarke

In Cork, Ireland, there is an art museum called the Crawford Art Gallery. I went for an exhibit called "Analysing Cubism" (which wasn't great), but I ended up falling in love with an exhibit called "A Revel in Blue." I'm a sucker for blue.

It is a small museum, but there are several floors. I gave up on the cubism exhibit pretty quickly, so I left my group behind and went to wander the rest of the museum on my own. There are portraits, and landscapes, and small displays of silverwork. I climbed the stairs, braving the uneven air conditioning in a very old building, and explored the rest of the rooms on my own. I enjoyed it, but didn't really have a gasp-worthy moment, so after an hour or so, I had decided to part ways with the museum. But, on the top floor, on my way back to the staircase, I saw one more room. It looked dark, and I thought it might be nothing, but I decided that since I was up there, I might as well go peek. Here was my gasp-worthy moment (and I almost missed it!).
At Length Burst in the Argent Revelry, Harry Clarke

There were no overhead lights, just a beautiful blue glow. The blue came from a series of illustrations, all studies for stained glass panels by Harry Clarke to illustrate scenes from a John Keats poem called The Eve of St. Agnes. It was breathtaking, and I was the only one in this world. There were also a few stained glass pieces, and some other awesome illustrations that Clarke did for Edgar Allen Poe stories.
Madeline--St. Agnes' Charmed Maid, Harry Clarke

The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans, Harry Clarke
Stained glass panel from The Eve of St. Agnes

I just had to know more about him. The gift shop told me a little, most notably that Harry Clarke also illustrated an edition of Hans Christian Andersen stories. I decided to dig a little more online. (I confess that I am simultaneously excited, embarrassed, and outraged that, as a collector of illustrated fairy tales, I have never seen this Andersen edition, nor had I heard of Harry Clarke. I had to fix this. And P.S., Christmas list, people! I need this book!)
Thumbelina, Harry Clarke

The Tinderbox, Harry Clarke

Harry Clarke is Ireland's most famous stained glass artist. Born in 1889, he started as an apprentice in his father's studio before studying stained glass at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. As a first year student, one of Clarke's stained glass panels won a gold medal at an art competition held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He married Margaret Crilly, a fellow student at the college, and set himself up doing commission stained glass pieces and book illustrations (beginning with the Andersen tales in 1916).
Aquarius, Harry Clarke
 After his father's death, Harry took over the studio and spent several productive years designing commission pieces for various churches in Ireland, England, Australia, and America. Unfortunately, he contracted tuberculosis. After traveling to Switzerland to recover his health, Harry Clarke died in 1931 at the age of 41.

Marie Rouget, Harry Clarke

He was known for his quality, craftsmanship, and fine detail. He specialized in merging the beautiful and the grotesque, like in his illustrations for Faust, The Fall of the House of Usher and other Poe stories.
Illustration from Faust, Harry Clarke
Illustration from Faust, Harry Clarke
 
The Fall of the House of Usher, Harry Clarke

The Tell-Tale Heart, Harry Clarke


*Information obtained from www.harryclarke.net and www.crawfordartgallery.ie

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