Crawford Art Gallerypermanent collection

The Consecration of St. Mel, Bishop of Longford, by St. Patrick
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The Consecration of St. Mel, Bishop of Longford, by St. Patrick
Irish School
Painted, acided stained glass
66.7 x 51.4 cm


The medieval-inspired stained glass movement in England, for which the early 20th century Irish revival grew, reached its fullest expression in the Arts and Crafts teaching and workshop of Christopher Whall.

His influence, which was strong on both sides of the Atlantic but formative in Ireland, is apparent in the three remarkably mature student Clarke panels which mysteriously turned up in Cork’s collection. The Consecration of St. Mel, Bishop of Longford, by St Patrick is Clarke’s earliest extant work in stained glass, made as part of a competition entry in 1910 under the tutelage of Whall’s former assistant, A.E. Child, at the Dublin School of Art.

Like The Godhead Enthroned of 1911, it represents a section worked from a full-length cartoon and was instrumental in winning a rare Gold Medal for Clarke at the important National Competition held in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London during his first year as a full-time student in Dublin. The young artist’s dramatic and technical skills were particularly praised in the Brendan and Judas panel (1910-1911), leading to his decision to concentrate mainly on stained glass.

Harry Clarke

Irish School

One of Ireland’s best-known and loved artists, Harry Clarke was born in Dublin in 1889, and trained in the art of stained glass in his father’s church decorating workshop, and in the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. While he went on to develop a unique style that was very much influenced by Symbolism, the three windows in the Harry Clarke room on the second floor of the Crawford Art Gallery are important works. Purchased directly from the artist by the Gibson Bequest Committee in 1924, The Consecration of St Mel, Bishop of Longford, by St Patrick (1910), The Godhead Enthroned (1911), and The Meeting of St Brendan with the Unhappy Judas (1911), were made between 1910 and 1911 while Clarke was still a student at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. He was awarded a gold medal for the windows at the South Kensington National Competitions in 1911, to which students from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland sent work. Just a few years later, in 1915, Clarke received the commission that made his name as a stained glass artist: eleven windows for the Honan Chapel on the grounds of what is now University College Cork.

While much of his work was for the religious context, Clarke also undertook private commissions, one of which was a window for the home of Harold Jacob in Dublin. Completed in 1924, the imagery in the window was derived from a poem entitled The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats. Clarke won a gold medal for the window at a major exhibition in Dublin prior to its installation in Jacob’s house in 1924. That same year the Gibson Bequest Committee purchased the preparatory watercolours for The Eve of St Agnes from Clarke for the Crawford Art Gallery. They take pride of place, alongside the artist’s early windows, in the Harry Clarke Room. The window was removed from its original context some years later, and was purchased by the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, in 1978.