‘Scandalous’ Harry Clarke Original Acquired by Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane

#MrGilhooley
An original stained glass artwork by Harry Clarke, which outraged the Irish Government in 1930, will go on public display tomorrow, Wednesday, 11th March, at 11am at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Charlemont House, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1.
The work depicts a scene from Liam O’Flaherty’s controversial novel ‘Mr Gilhooley’ and was created by Harry Clarke as a section of his Panel No. 6 for the Geneva Window. It was commissioned by the Irish Government for the League of Nations building in Geneva , the UN’s forerunner, in the late 1920’s. Clarke chose scenes of novels by contemporary Irish writers as his themes for the window.
The scene ‘Mr Gilhooley’, depicts a partially nude dancer, Nelly.  Although completed, The Geneva Window was never displayed at its intended home in the Labour Court in Geneva as it was deemed to be unsuitable by the Government of the day.  Instead it was installed in Government Buildings, Merrion Square.
The work Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane has acquired is Harry Clarke’s original attempt to create the ‘Mr. Gilhooley’ scene.  During its final firing ‘Mr Gilhooley’ developed a hairline crack and Clarke remade this section for this particular panel of the Window. 
Barbara Dawson, Director of the Gallery said ‘Harry Clarke was Ireland’s greatest stained glass artist. His marvellous imagination, his originality in depicting his subject matter and command of the stained glass technique makes him one of the greatest stained glass artists of all time. By acquiring ‘Mr.Gilhooley’  we have ensured that a rare and valuable Harry Clarke original is available for the Irish public to view freely at Dublin’s Municipal Gallery”.
 
Dr. Margarita Cappock, Head of Collections, welcoming this important acquisition said ‘This work by Harry Clarke is a very welcome addition to the Gallery’s substantial collection of Harry Clarke material and will take pride of place next to Harry Clarke’s magnificent ‘Eve of St. Agnes’ Window in our stained glass room. It is particularly appropriate given the fact that Clarke had close ties with this area of Dublin and lived and worked around the corner from the gallery until his untimely death in 1931”.
 
Dr. Nicola Gordon Bowe, an expert on Harry Clarke’s works will speak about the panel at the launch. She says ‘.  ‘The panel was sold, by the Fine Art Society in London in 1988, when it was acquired by the London collector, John Scott.   That the Hugh Lane's has been able to acquire it on the recent sale of Scott's acquisition is a cause for great celebration.  Not only is it one of Clarke's finest and last works, magnificently displaying his skills as a stained glass artist and book illustrator, but it goes some way for atoning for Ireland's loss of the Geneva Window, which was on loan to the Gallery between 1963-1980 after the Government's eventual rejection of it, not least because of this 'Mr. Gilhooley' panel.   Clarke chose it because of it’s quintessentially Dublin setting, unconcerned that both O'Flaherty and James Joyce (also represented by Clarke) were banned authors at the time.   Until his death in January 1931, he was mystified by the “grave offence” it caused’.
 
In 1988 the Geneva Window was sold by the Clarke family to the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami, Florida, where it is now on permanent exhibition and is hailed a rare masterpiece. The original ‘Mr Gilhooley’ section will be on permanent display at the Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane www.hughlane.ie
 Mr.Gilhooley’ can be viewed at http://bit.ly/MrGilhooley
Jason Clarke Photography has been commissioned to syndicate photos to photodesks.
 
ENDS
 
 
For further information contact:
 
Dublin City Council Media Relations Office T. (01) 222 2170, M. 087 740 0277
Margarita Cappock, Head of Collections, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane  M.  087 7579099
 
 
Notes to the Editor:
 
The Geneva Window.
 
The 8 panel Geneva Window depicts scenes from literature by fifteen of Ireland’s finest writers.  Harry selected the writers to be depicted with the help of William Butler Yeats.
 
The writers chosen for each Panel:
 
Panel 1 : Patrick Pearse and Lady Gregory
Panel 2:  G.B. Shaw
Panel 3:  John Millington Singe and Seamus O’Sullivan
Panel 4:  James Stephens and Sean O Casey
Panel 5.: Lennox Robinson and W.B. Yeats
Panel 6:  Liam O Flaherty and George Russell
Panel 7:  Padraic Colum and George Fitzmaurice
Panel 8:  James Joyce and Seamus O’Kelly
 
 
 
 
Mr. Gilhooley  (c. 1927) 
 
11¼ x 10¾” flashed gold-pink glass panel, acided, stained and painted; 
set in ruby glass and leaded; inscribed by the artist in tiny handwritten
letters:
 
'“She came towards him dancing, moving the folds of the veil
 so that they unfolded slowly as she danced”
 
Mr. Gilhooley by Liam O'Flaherty'
 Here Harry Clarke has selected  the most risqué passage from Chapter XI of  O'Flaherty's provocative novel, where the beleaguered  would-be “voluptuary”, Mr. Gilhooley, has moved into a rented flat with his mistress, the mystifying Nelly, who calls him “uncle”.  Intoxicated after their inaugural supper, she responds to his plea to marry him by dancing for him.  Pale, slender, lithe and bacchanialian with “a thick mass of sparkling golden curls”, O'Flaherty described how she advances across the floor, barefoot, wearing “nothing but a veil”.   So, “her body, as she moved, showed through its folds” seductively disclosing her beautiful form until, “with a cry, she dropped the veil and stood quite naked before him”.  Drunkenly, Mr. Gilhooley  watches her from a divan, glass of wine and cigar in hand.  Clarke has relished painting “the bald spot on the top of his head, his thick red neck, the pockmark on his nose, his wrinkled cheeks and the limpness of his fleshy limbs” detailed by O'Flaherty.
 
This is perhaps the most risqué  of  the 15 scenes Clarke chose to illustrate  from early 20th century Irish literature on  eight miniature stained glass panels as  the Irish Free State Government's gift  to the International Labour Building of the League of Nations in Geneva.   When a hairline crack developed in the glass during the intricate process of  aciding, staining and firing the single piece of glass on which the illustration was painted, Clarke abandoned it because of the slender lead necessary to run across Nelly's shoulders.   In the final version of the panel in what is known as the Geneva Window (1926-1930, coll. Mitchell Wolfson Jr., Wolfsonian-Florida International University, Miami Beach) the costly gold-pink glass is unleaded and plated against blue glass without the exquisite subtleties of  this panel, which was made exclusively by the artist with no studio assistance. 
This panel  remained in Clarke's family until his daughter gave it to her doctor in Bray.  It was sold, along with the Geneva Window by the Fine Art Society in London  in 1988, when it was acquired by the London collector, John Scott.   That the Hugh Lane's has been able to acquire it on the  recent sale of Scott's acquisition is a cause for great celebration.  Not only is it one of Clarke's finest and last works, magnificently displaying his skills as a stained glass artist and book illustrator, but it goes some way for atoning for Ireland's loss of the Geneva Window, which was on on loan to the Gallery between 1963-1980 after the Government's eventual rejection of  it, not least  because of  this 'Mr. Gilhooley' panel.   Clarke chose it because of its quintessentially Dublin setting, unconcerned  that  both O'Flaherty and James Joyce (also represented by Clarke) were banned authors at the time.   Until his death in January 1931, he was mystified by the “grave offence” it caused.
© Nicola Gordon Bowe  March 2015
 
The ‘Mr Gilhooly’  stained glass piece was acquired for £35,000 from the Fine Art Society, London.
 
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