Stained glass window in Belfast college chapel


Madam, - I am currently completing an M.Litt thesis on "The Religious Art of Richard King in Ireland" and am writing to correct an error which appeared on the front page of the Christmas Eve edition of your paper. A colour photograph of a stained glass window depicting The Nativity from the chapel of St Malachy's College, Belfast, was reproduced and described as the work of Harry Clarke.

This window is one of a series devoted to The Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary which was put in by Harry Clarke Studios during the period 1935-37.

The commission, which was given to the Clarke Studios by the Very Rev J. Hendley of St Malachy's College, has been documented in the Harry Clarke manuscripts held in the Trinity College library. These windows are therefore not the work of Harry Clarke, who died on January 6th, 1931, but are designed by his pupil Richard King (1907-74).

The five stained glass windows depicting The Joyful Mysteries, of which The Nativity is one, were erected in St Malachy's College by the Clarke Studios in July, 1935. Richard King was trained in stained glass by Harry Clarke when he entered the studios in 1928. When Clarke died in 1931, King became chief draftsman/part-designer and ultimately manager of the studios during the period 1935-40. After Clarke's death, King and other studio artists did not sign their own work. Hence, the windows such as those in St Malachy's College which I have seen, are simply signed in general terms on behalf of the studios as "Harry Clarke Stained Glass Ltd". This situation has unfortunately led to some confusion and incorrect attributions. - Yours, etc,

RUTH SHEEHY, Dept of the History of Art, Trinity College, Dublin 2.