Watercolours designs for the Geneva Window by Harry Clarke
These watercolours were created by Harry Clarke as preparatory designs for his stained glass masterpiece The Geneva Window, 1929. It is so called as it was commissioned by the Irish Government as Ireland’s gift to the League of Nations, Geneva to be installed in the new International Labour Organisation building .The window features scenes from contemporary Irish writers which Clarke explained ” would give opportunities for phantasy rather than be of a mythological or classical interest” Short illustrated excerpts from the works of fifteen Irish writers were included in the 8 panels. The window unfortunately was never installed in its intended destination because of official disapproval of Clarke's depiction of the women from Liam O’Flaherty’s novel Mr Gilhooley and The Others by Seumas Sullivan. The window was on permanent loan to the Hugh Lane Gallery until it was sold to the Wolfsonian Foundation Miami where it is now on permanent display.
The Demi-Gods (From the book of the same name by James Stephens)
"The dark curtain of night moved noiselessly,
three angels stepped nobly in the firelight."
“The Demi-Gods by James Stephens (1914). Clarke here illustrates a twilight scene, from the second chapter of 'Book 1. Patsy MacCann.' Rustic Patsy and his daughter Mary are eating a camp supper beside the glowing brazier of a "little bucket of fire" when they are amazed to see three angels "gorgeously apparelled in silken robes of scarlet and gold and purple; upon their heads were crowns high in form and curious of intricate workmanship, and their wings...of many shining colours." While Patsy is aghast, his daughter (in glowing ruby dress) 'had slipped swift and noiseless...into the darkness behind her."
Harry Clarke, The Dreamers (1928), © Collection Hugh Lane Gallery
The shadowy figure of Robert Emmet, "wearing the boots and breeches" of his Irish Volunteer uniform beneath a sweeping blue cloak, gazes sadly ahead. His words are from Act III of Robinson's three-act nationalist play, when he tells Sarah and Jane Curran that he cannot leave Ireland "while my followers are being apprehended, are suffering, are perhaps dying."
Soon after, he is led to his martyrdom at the scaffold.
"If I were to die tomorrow all I would ask
from the world would be the charity of its silence."
From The Dreamers by Lennox Robinson
Harry Clarke, The Others (1928), © Collection Hugh Lane Gallery
From The Others by Seumas O'Sullivan
"And now they pause
in their dancing and
look with troubled eyes,
Earth's straying chidlren
with sudden memory wise."
A companion pair of lovers but painted on gold-pink with blue; she dreams, enchanted, in her dress of swirling pink and blue while he, clad only in a bolero and ruched leggings, seems half-goblin as he takes her hand in their dance over the crescent moon. Barely visible behind them are the tiny prancing green figures of elves.
Harry Clarke, The Playboy of the Western World (1928), © Collection Hugh Lane Gallery
"Well the heart’s a wonder; and I’m thinking there
won’t be our like again in Mayo, for gallant lovers, from this hour today"
The Playboy of the Western World by John
Millington Synge (1907) Clarke illustrates Christy Mahon and Pegeen Mike as coy young lovers from their romantic scene together before tragedy strikes, in Act III of Synge’s controversial three-act play. Pegeen’s ruby dress and shoes recall the red flannel skirts of Aran island women, while Christy’s fancifully patched trousers, red pampooties, crios and traditional vest are less striking than his wandering hands or the new moon sending a glowing pink light over the County Mayo landscape behind them”
Texts on the panels are taken from Harry Clarke’s Geneva Window by Nicola Gordon Bowe. Irish Arts Review