The Dominican Convent, Wicklow

The first group of Studios windows I looked at in detail are in the chapel of the Dominican Convent in Wicklow town. It was a bright April morning and not ideal for photographing stained glass. Direct sunlight can cause overexposure of the lighter parts of a stained glass window, so a bit of experimentation was needed to get reasonable shots.

The Dominican Sisters in Ireland have a long association with the Studios, going back as far as 1908, but more about that another time.

The chapel has fifteen Studios windows, each one representing an event in the life of Jesus, Mary and the early church. In the Catholic faith these events are grouped into sets of five known as Mysteries of the Rosary. The windows represent the three sets observed by the church at that time – the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries and the Glorious Mysteries.[1]

The windows were commissioned by Rev. Mother Magdalen Silke in 1938 when Richard King was manager of the Studios. They were installed between August 1938 and May 1939 following discussions between King and the Reverend Mother on the price and details of design for each window. The Sisters were very concerned about the reduction of light the stained glass would cause in the chapel, and King provided constant reassurance that this would not be a problem.

 

Assumption and Coronation 0835

 

The resulting set of windows is one of the most finely executed schemes ever produced by the Studios. Here is an example of the work. This two-light window depicts the Coronation of Mary (left) and the Assumption of Mary (right), two of the Glorious Mysteries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a more detailed view of the Coronation of Mary.

Coronation Detail 0976

 

This is a detail from the Descent of the Holy Spirit window, showing some of Christ’s apostles as they receive the Holy Spirit.

Descent Detail 0965

 

The next example is from the Finding in the Temple window, where Jesus had been missing but was found by Mary and Joseph in discussion with elders in the Temple.

Finding Detail 0894

 

The final example is a detail from the Crowning with Thorns.

Crowning Detail 0876

 

The artists who worked on these windows all trained under Harry Clarke and his influence can be clearly seen throughout the scheme.

My thanks to the Dominican Sisters for allowing me to view their chapel, and for the cup of tea afterwards!

[1] In 2002 Pope John Paul II announced the addition of a fourth set of mysteries to the rosary – the Mysteries of Light

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