Judith, Glanna and Gloriana

23 Dec

Judith is obviously the leader of this group – dragging Holofernes’ head along the ground.

Harry Clarke, “Queens who cut the bogs of Glanna,/Judith of Scripture, and Gloriana.” 1917, Glass panels acided, stained and painted, 47.3 x 113 cm, auctioned by Christies 5/21/1997 (Lot 65)

This beautiful stained glass window was one of a set of nine commission by The Rt Hon Laurence Waldron PC to accompany the poem Queens by J.M. Synge.   The set was to be hung from left to right in the library windows of Waldron’s Killiney Bay house.   Panel was wax and acid-etched out of flashed ruby or gold-pink pot-metal glass in addition to being stained and painted.

These are no ordinary windows, because the subject matter is literary rather than religious.  This depiction of Judith is about her position as a heroine over tyranny of any kind, and places her next to Gloriana – the name given to Queen Elizabeth I in Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene  (although the Queen of Glanna is a mystery).   She is once again portrayed as bold and determined.   The brilliant reds heighten the emotion of this portrait but the delicate patterns of the gowns retains the romance.

If only Judith could find a way to keep her bodice from slipping down, she would not seem quite so … brazen.   I know, one of the other girls did it too but (sigh) she does not always have to follow the slutty one in the crowd.

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Queens, by J.M. Synge (1902)

Seven dog-days we let pass
Naming Queens in Glenmacnass,
All the rare and royal names
Wormy sheepskin yet retains,
Etain, Helen, Maeve, and Fand,
Golden Deirdre’s tender hand,
Bert, the big-foot, sung by Villon,
Cassandra, Ronsard found in Lyon.
Queens of Sheba, Meath and Connaught,
Coifed with crown, or gaudy bonnet,
Queens whose finger once did stir men,
Queens were eaten of fleas and vermin,
Queens men drew like Monna Lisa,
Or slew with drugs in Rome and Pisa,
We named Lucrezia Crivelli,
And Titian’s lady with amber belly,
Queens acquainted in learned sin,
Jane of Jewry’s slender shin:
Queens who cut the bogs of Glanna,
Judith of Scripture, and Gloriana,
Queens who wasted the East by proxy,
Or drove the ass-cart, a tinker’s doxy,
Yet these are rotten-I ask their pardon-
And we’ve the sun on rock and garden,
These are rotten, so you’re the Queen
Of all the living, or have been.

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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Story


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