Harry Clarke Stained Glass, ‘The Little Musician’

20th Century

At the request of Simon Edsor of the Fine Art Society, and supported by Nicola Gordon-Bowe, who has written extensively on the life and work of Harry Clark, a full condition survey, treatment report, and restrained cleaning was carried out on this small panel by celebrated Dublin glass painter Harry Clarke, in preparation for its sale and subsequent display.

This fragment is thought to be a study piece for one of Clarke’s windows. Harry Clarke was a leading figure in the Irish Arts and Crafts Movement. His artistic output was huge in spite of his untimely death at the age of 41 years old, his style distinctive and unique. Full of fantasy and romance his intricate painting style encompassed thin washes delicately picked out with a needle point, and opaque layers of black pigment. In order to achieve such a theatrical and jewel like effect he often plated different colours of glass together, and relied heavily on acid etching to achieve different grades of colour.  This study piece was painted entirely by the artist himself, as confirmed by Nicola Gordon Bowe.

It was observed that the glass paint was well fused to the surface and in excellent condition. The reverse of the panel had a translucent fired ‘couverte’ layer, designed to arrest the light and make the image glow when seen against the light. A  light touch’ clean was carried out. Two repair leads across the middle of the piece were judged to be an important element of the history of the artefact, and as such were not disturbed.