National Gallery of Ireland acquires Harry Clarke Artwork

Thursday, January 4, 2024
National Gallery of Ireland acquires Harry Clarke Artwork

One of Irish artist Harry Clarke’s finest and rarest works of stained glass has become part of the national collection at the National Gallery of Ireland. Titania Enchanting Bottom, created over a century ago in 1922, now belongs to the Irish public and will be free for Gallery visitors to view in the new year. The acquisition was supported by the Patrons of Irish Art of the National Gallery of Ireland, whose membership fees support acquisitions of Irish art.

Born in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day in 1889, Harry Clarke is one of Ireland’s best known and most beloved artists. He achieved significant acclaim in his short lifetime, working across different media including book illustration. His principal career was in the production of stained glass windows, mainly for churches and religious houses across Ireland, as well as in the UK, US and Australia. He also produced a small number of secular works in glass. 

Titania Enchanting Bottom is the only glass work by Clarke that is inspired by Shakespeare. It depicts Act IV, Scene I, from Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Featuring characters from the play including Bottom, Puck, Titania, Peaseblossom, Cobweb and Moth, the work is adorned with botanical elements – a detail typical of Clarke’s work. From 1917 to 1922, Clarke made a unique series of miniature panels inspired by literature – including this one – adapting his talent and passion for book illustration to the medium of stained glass. These panels were set into bespoke cabinets, of which several, including this example, were designed by Dublin-born furniture maker James Hicks (1866-1936). Titania Enchanting Bottomis one of just five panels that survive. At the National Gallery of Ireland, it joins The Song of the Mad Prince (1917) which is on display in Room 20 and was acquired by the Gallery in 1987. These panels are significant to the understanding of Harry Clarke as an artist. They are the forerunners to the The Eve of St Agnes and The Geneva Window.

Main Image :Harry Clarke (1889-1931), Titania Enchanting Bottom (1922). Photographer, Phil Pound.

Stephanie Cime

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