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WORK OF THE WEEK | 10 December 2018

CAG.109 Harry Clarke, The Godhead Enthroned, 1911, painted, acided stained glass, 68.6 x 63.5 cm.

To celebrate the opening of our new exhibition DREAMING IN BLUE: Harry Clarke Watercolours, we’re sharing a rarity with you – an early example of the celebrated artist’s prize-winning stained glass from the collection.

Showcasing Clarke’s characteristic rich colour palette, The Godhead Enthroned (1911) presents a powerful Christlike image of the Christian divinity who returns our attention with a warm yet penetrating gaze. Encircling his haloed head are the four Evangelist symbols – Matthew (man), Mark (lion), Luke (ox), and John (eagle) – representing the four Gospels of The New Testament.

Made while Harry Clarke (1889-1931) was still a student – yes, a student! – at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (now the National College of Art and Design), this is one of three panels he entered in the South Kensington National Competitions in 1911. Competing with artists from across Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales, he was awarded a coveted gold medal for these stunningly realised works.

Clarke was born in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day 1889 to Joshua Clarke and Brigid MacGonigal. In 1892, his father established a church decorating business at North Frederick Street in which Clarke would later train. The artist went on to further his studies at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art alongside Seán Keating and Margaret Clarke (née Crilley), his future wife. It is here that he honed the exceptional drawing skills which would underpin his future stained-glass designs and extraordinary book illustrations.

Visit our Harry Clarke Room (Floor 2) to view this and two other early stained-glass panels by one of Ireland’s favourite artists.

DREAMING IN BLUE: Harry Clarke Watercolours opens 14 December 2018. The exhibition features 18 ethereal studies for The Eve of St Agnes window alongside a specially commissioned audio piece by actor Fiona Shaw.

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