Harry Clarke was an outstanding stained glass artist whose work is in is internationally renowned. The Clarke Studios were situated in North Frederick Street and they were the leading stained glass company in Ireland in the first half of the 20th century.
In 1923, Harold Jacob, ordered a window, 'out of the usual run of domestic stained glass', depicting Keats' poem The Eve of St Agnes for his house on Ailesbury Road, Dublin. Clarke responded with a work of consummate skill, encompassing every technique known to the stained glass artist. Fourteen key scenes conveying the drama and magic of the story are illustrated, topped by two decorative lunettes, with a unifying frieze below showing the dramatis personae. Porphyro, forbidden to pursue the hand of Madeline by her father, creeps into Madeline’s family castle during the St Agnes' Eve partying. He is led by Old Angela to Madeline's bedchamber. Madeline, following ancient custom, has retired there fasting to dream of her future lord. Her dreams are fulfilled when Porphyro wakes her, and the two steal away into the gathering storm past fluttering tapestry and the drunken porter.
Clarke cleverly disguises the leading in the architectural and decorative features around the scenes. The dazzling colour is achieved using double-layered glass, repeatedly acid-etched to produce diverse tones, with minute detail scratched into the paint layers using a needle. Thus, the window is the result of painstaking work of the utmost complexity, and an extraordinary achievement.
For the Full Poem click here (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44470/the-eve-of-st-agnes)