Crawford Art Gallerypermanent collection

Irish School
Pen and ink on Bristol Board
28 x 21.6cm


Gibson Fund acquisition 1924
Inspired by a homonymous short story by Edgar Allan Poe, the illustration depicts the heartless heroine Ligeia drawn in pen and ink.

On the back is an inscription written by the artist, in which he quotes lines from Edgar Allan Poe's short story Ligeia:

“In the excitement of my opium dreams (for I was habitually fettered in the shackles of the drugs. I would call aloud upon her name, during the silence of the night, or among the sheltered recesses of the glens by day.”

Clarke’s book illustrations shows his predilection for both sublimely beautiful and macabrely grotesque, besides his love for detail.

Harry Clarke
Irish School

Clarke may be described as Ireland´s major Symbolist artist, whose synthesis of literary, musical, poetic and imagined visual images draws on a wide range of eclectic, sometimes obscure sources to produce an entirely original and idiosyncratic vision. This is as firmly rooted in the Yeatsian Celtic Revival and National Romanticism of late 19th/early 20th century Ireland as in European Symbolism, Decadence, and Art Nouveau of the same period, with the unusual extra dimension of consummate technical skill in stained glass. Clarke´s ability to express his art through one of the most demanding of crafts, in a modern yet traditionally inspired Arts and Crafts idiom, gives his work a sumptuous richness and depth usually only evoked, rather than realised, by his contemporaries. In Ireland, this fusion of vision and skill was only achieved by his contemporaries, Wilhellmina Geddes and Michael Healy, of An Tur Gloine stained glass studio in Dublin, and, more recently, by the two
contemporary Cork-based artists, Maud Cotter and James Scanlon.