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The Last Hour of the Night by Harry Clarke
Harry Clarke (1889–1931) was an Irish stained glass artist and book illustrator.
Born in Dublin, he was a leading figure in the Irish Arts and Crafts Movement. Clarke's stained glass appears in many Irish churches, perhaps his most seen work is the windows of Bewley's Café on Grafton Street. He also illustrated books by Hans Christian Andersen and Edgar Allan Poe.
A drawing of Harry Clarke that appeared in The Irish Times of 17 April 1923
Clarke’s biographer Nicola Gordon Bowe describes his work reproduced and placed on O’Connell Street:
With the imagined socialist revolt of 1916 still in near memory, and the destruction of the Four Courts by Republicans in 1922 fresh in the city’s consciousness, Clarke’s drawing acts as a visual apparition of the flux and disorder of the past and potential futures of Dublin, an allegory for an urban form that is disorganized but recognizable, shifting and uncertain. The monumental figure stands in the midst of the city, dwarfing and destroying civic buildings, inducing chaos in a tenement block.
The original pen and ink drawing of The Last Hour of the Night is today lost. The version today visible on O’Connell Street is reproduced from the first page of a publication called Dublin of the Future published in 1922 by Liverpool University Press and Hodder & Stoughton, London, and printed by Browne and Nolan, Dublin. It featured the winning proposal for the urban regeneration of Dublin in 1916, by Patrick Abercrombie, Sydney Kelly, and Arthur Kelly, architects from Liverpool. Influenced by Baron Haussmann’s plans to clear away the medieval slums of Paris and create a kind of nineteenth century version of propriety, their plan suggests a new cathedral and campanile at the top of Capel Street, the construction of many new streets around the city centre, and enough suburban settlements for a population of 700,000. A version was adopted in 1939 by Dublin Corporation as the official city plan, but was never implemented.
An illustration from Dublin of the Future, 1922.
The red lines detail the planned redevelopment of the city centre.
|A preliminary pencil sketch of The Last Hour of the Night still survives, and was exhibited at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College from November 13 - December 8 1979, alongside a copy of Dublin of the Future. It was mentioned in Nicola Gordon Bowe’s book, Harry Clarke: His Graphic Art (Mountrath and Los Angeles 1983), as well as being described and reproduced in The Life and Work of Harry Clarke (Irish Academic Press, Dublin 1989), by the same author. Further reproductions have appeared in Yvonne Whelan’s book Reinventing Modern Dublin (Dublin, 2003), and in the film documentary Harry Clarke – Darkness in Light by Camel Productions (Dublin, 2003).|