Harry Clarke, who created book stained glass and textile designs in addition to his macabre illustrations, was born in Dublin, Ireland and attended Belvedere College, a Jesuit school. According to Diana J. Johnson, he “apprenticed to an architect before joining his father's firm of stained glass designers. During this period he also studied with great success at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art and won a traveling scholarship to study early stained glass in the French province of Ile de France in 1914. In 1911, 1912 and 1913 he won the only gold medals given in stained glass at the South Kensington exhibitions. Clarke was an active member of his father's Dublin workshop, which designed stained glass for religious institutions and secular clients from Ireland to Africa” (54). After Clarke's father died in 1921, he served as the firm's director and main designer.
His illustrations draw upon both Aubrey Beardsley's earlier style that emphasizes fine line and intricate patterns and his later one that contrasts of large areas of solid black and white. As Peppin and Micklethwait point out in the entry on Clarke in their Dictionary of British Book Illustrators: The Twentieth Century, “Throughout his illustrative work, decorative elegance was combined with an atmosphere of dark intensity, often enhanced by closely textured surface patterns and dominant areas of black. Like Beardsley, his imagery often contained ingenious sexual allusions, but these were often combined with images drawn from ecclesiastical iconography” that occasionally gives a “peculiarly medieval” quality to his art (72). Clarke, who delights in the erotic, grotesque, and horrific, often use images and motifs associated with the Decadents and Symbolists. Tuberculosis cut short the life of this disciple of Beardsley in 1931. — George P. Landow.
Commentary, galleries, and other material
- Harry Clarke, Aubrey Beardsley, and the Decadents (I): Visual Style
- Harry Clarke, Aubrey Beardsley, and the Decadents (II): Symbol, Image, and Theme
- Clarke's grotesques in his illustrations for Goethe's Faust
- Hans Christian Anderson, Fairy Tales (George Harrap, 1916)
- Edgar Allen Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination (Harrap, 1919)
- The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault (Harrap, 1922)
- Algernon Charles Swinburne's Selected Poems. London: John Lane, 1928
- What evil looks had I from old and young!
- The souls did from their body fly, — they fled to bliss or woe!
- Upon the bed there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome detestable putridity
- What, is not the key of my closet among the rest?
- At this very instant the young fairy came out from behind the hangings
- The prince enquires of the aged countryman
- “I will have it so,” replied the queen, “and will eat her with a sauce Robert”
- Anyone but Cinderella would have dressed their heads awry
- She left behind one of her glass slippers, which the prince took up most carefully
- Riquet with the Tuft appeared to her first Prince upon earth
- Little Thumb was as good as his word, and returned that same night with the news
- Jupiter appeared before him wielding his mighty thunderbolt
- Truth to tell, this new ornament did not set off her beauty
- “What is this I see,” said her mother
- [Woman embracing a cloaked man]
Title-pages for books and individual stories, head-pieces, tail-pieces, bindings, and other book decoration
- Title-page for “The Master Cat; or, Puss in Boots”
- Title-page for “Blue Beard”
- Title-page for “Cinderella”
- Title-page decoration for “Donkey Skin”
- Tailpiece for introduction and title-page decoration for Introduction
- [Woman holding male puppet]
- Endpaper, Swinburne's Selected Poems
- Tailpiece for "Blue Beard"
- Page decoration [Nude woman]
- Page decoration [androgynous figure]
- Page decoration [lovers]
- Cover design for Swinburne's Selected Poems
Johnson, Diana L. Fantastic Illustration and Design in Britain, 1830-1930. Providence"Museum of Art of the Rhode Island School of Design, 1979.
Peppin, Bridget, and Lucy Micklethwait. >Dictionary of British Book Illustrators: The Twentieth Century. London: John Murray, 1983.
Salaman, M.C. Modern Book Illustrators and heir Work. Ed. C. Geoffrey Holme and Ernest G. Halton. London: The Studio Ltd., 1914. Internet Archive version in a copy of the Cornell University Library. Web. 24 December 2012.
Last modified 26 December 2012