Following her commissons for two three-light windows for Dowanhill in 1922 and 1926, Sister Wilfrid invited Harry Clarke to make two further lancet windows as war memorials for her convent chapel. Because of Clarke's protracted ill health during 1926, these windows were delayed and were not completed before Sister Wilfrid's unexpected death the same year. They are both, therefore, dedicated to her memory. Clarke visited Glasgow in June 1927 to discuss and measure for them, and again in July before retreating to London to make them in the studio he used to hire at the Fulham Glass House, when he wanted to escape from the considerable pressures of his thriving family church decorating business in Dublin. He worked on the two lancets, of which this is the left-hand window, between September and 24 December 1927, all the time battling with incipient tuberculosis.
This window, donated by the local Montessori School, depicts the recently sanctified Blessed Julie with two picturesquely dressed, serious children, one western and one eastern, to show the extensive scope of the work of those girls she had trained. St. Julie is portrayed as a nun, praying with a garlanded rosary, and in profile like St. Wilfrid in her companion light. She is, like him, attended by an angel watching over her from above, while below her is an exquisite predella panel, treated in similar microscopic detail as the little Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple panel at the base of the St. Wilfrid window. The panel here represents 'The Visitation of Our Lady to St. Elizabeth'. The tiny figures of Our Lady, St. Elizabeth, Zacharias and a little girl are dressed in robes of blue, gold, brown and green which sparkle richly against a velvet black enamelled night sky, lit only by stars and phosphorescent flowers. Such miniature illustrative panels, minutely etched, are unique to Clarke. They were first used by him in this form in 1925, and most famously in his Geneva Window, completed in 1928 as Ireland's ill-fated gift for the Geneva League of Nations building, but now in the Wolfsonian Foundation's collection in Miami.
This window's companion light, St. Wilfrid and St. John Berchmans, was sold Christie's, London, 22 May 1998, lot 80 (£43,300).
Nicola Gordon Bowe