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  • NATIONAL GALLERY ANNOUNCES MAJOR HARRY CLARKE ACQUISITION

    The National Gallery of Ireland announced today that it had acquired Titania Enchanting Bottom by Harry Clarke. It is undergoing conservation treatment and will be on display in the New Year. The luminous stained glass panel was sold by Morgan O’Driscoll last October 24 for a hammer price of €160,000. The acquisition was supported by the Patrons of Irish Art of the National Gallery of Ireland. Born in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day in 1889, Harry Clarke is one of Ireland’s best known and most beloved artists. He achieved significant acclaim in his short lifetime, working across different media including book illustration. His principal career was in the production of stained glass windows, mainly for churches and religious houses across Ireland, as well as in the UK, US and Australia. He also produced a small number of secular works in glass. 

    Titania Enchanting Bottom is the only glass work by Clarke that is inspired by Shakespeare. It depicts Act IV, Scene I, from Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Featuring characters from the play including Bottom, Puck, Titania, Peaseblossom, Cobweb and Moth, the work is adorned with botanical elements – a detail typical of Clarke’s work. From 1917 to 1922, Clarke made a unique series of miniature panels inspired by literature – including this one – adapting his talent and passion for book illustration to the medium of stained glass. These panels were set into bespoke cabinets, of which several, including this example, were designed by Dublin-born furniture maker James Hicks (1866-1936). Titania Enchanting Bottom is one of just five panels that survive. At the National Gallery of Ireland, it joins The Song of the Mad Prince (1917) which is on display in Room 20 and was acquired by the Gallery in 1987. These panels are significant to the understanding of Harry Clarke as an artist. They are the forerunners to the The Eve of St Agnes based on the Keats poem and The Geneva Window now at the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami.

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