Sunday, 7 November 2010

Harry Clarke (1889-1931)

A trip to The Works (remaindered bookstore) in Birmingham on Saturday was rewarded with finding a lovely large-format hardback of Edgar Allan Poe's works with the classic 1919 Harry Clarke monochrome plates, and for just £6.95.

As a small child I found the above illustration for "The Premature Burial" absolutely terrifying and to a degree I still do - Clarke's masterful use of that expanse of black space with the hungry tree roots that take the eye down and then the contorted shape in the coffin with the staring, mad eyes. Fantastic composition.

Happily somebody else has already scanned all of Clarke's full-page plates from this work so have a look here for more wonderful monochrome grotesqueness. Fans of Russ Nicholson (i.e. most of you) really should click that link.

Sadly, like Poe, the Irishman Clarke died incredibly early - he was a mere 41 years old when tuberculosis claimed him.


  1. Goddammit! Clarke was indeed a fantastic artist! I was not familiar with his work, so thank you so much for bringing him to my attention.

  2. Great find. Very nice work, there's a strong smell of Beardsley (Aubrey, not Peter!) in those images, especially the drapery and posing, although Clarke blacks are more macabre than decadent. Beardsley only made it to 26.