The Haunting Imagery of Henry Clarke

Irish stained-glass artist and book illustrator Henry Clarke lived a short but creatively fruitful life. Clarke illustrated books written by Hans Christian Anderson and Edgar Allan Poe. His style, twisted and haunting, somewhat reminiscent of art nouveau, can easily bear comparisons to Aubrey Beardsley and William Heath Robinson, especially with his use of black shapes and negative space. Yet, while Beardsley was somewhat ethereal and poetic, and Robinson was humorous and whimsical, Clarke’s work often left you with an unsettled, eerie feeling –– suitable for Faust, a story which he did, indeed, illustrate.

Sadly, Clarke was a man who often found himself in poor health. When he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, he went into care in a sanatorium in Switzerland. Fearing he would die abroad he attempted to travel back to his home in Ireland; Clarke died en route and was buried in Switzerland.

At 41, Henry Clarke left behind a wife, three children and an artistic legacy that keeps his memory alive to this day.


Kaja Blackley is the author of Maggie MacCormack and the Witches’ Wheel now on sale: