Mr Gilhooley by Liam O’Flaherty
MediumClear, coloured and flashed glass, acided, stained and with painted details
12 x 11 ½ in (30 x 29 cm)
Created for The Geneva Window
provenance: Dr W. H. Roche, gift of Margaret Clarke (the artist’s wife); The Fine Art Society, 1988
Source: Masterpieces from the John Scott Collection.
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This stained glass was the original section of the panel depicting O’Flaherty’s Mr Gilhooley from The Geneva Window commission. During its final firing a hairline crack developed in the glass and a section was remade. The Geneva Window was commissioned by the Irish Department of Industry and Commerce in 1925 as a gift to the International Labour Office of the League of Nations, Geneva. Thrilled by the opportunity to produce a work which would reach such international audiences, this piece is the culmination of Clarke’s unique, lifelong experimentation with design and colour in glass making. Clarke excelled in the employment of flashed glass, plating and acid etching to manipulate light and colour, here creating a fantastic range of red hues. However, it is his skill as a glass painter that proves so effective here. The window was intended to be seen close up in order that the exceptionally fine detail, including painted highlights in yellow, could be admired.
Of the subject matter, Clarke stated: ‘It should give opportunities for phantasy rather than be of mythological or classical interest.’* Radically he settled on the representation of a number of Irish authors’ works including Shaw, Yeats, Gregory, Synge, Joyce, Padraic Colum, Seamus O’Sullivan, James Stephens, O’Casey, George Fitzmaurice, Lennox Robinson, Liam O’Flaherty and Seamus O’Kelly. This cast list, however, was problematic, not least because two of the authors’ writings, Joyce and Liam O’Flaherty, had been censored, while half the authors were Protestants, and none committed Catholics. Its censorship was almost inevitable: the piece was rejected for fear of the ‘grave offense’ it might cause. The scene depicted in this panel was specifically marked out for criticism. The completed work now belongs to the Wolfsonian Museum, Florida.
* Quoted by Michael Laurence Clarke in The Stained Glass of Harry Clarke 1889.
Masterpieces from the John Scott Collection. London: The Fine Art Society, No. 23.
Last modified 23 May 2014