Question 24 - Reading Practice Test for the PERT

What evidence in this passage best supports the theory that Clarke had a macabre imagination?

The Irish stained glass artist and illustrator Harry Clarke was prolific, producing, in his short life, over a hundred stained glass windows. But beyond Ireland, it was his illustrations which brought him international renown, particularly in the United States where printers flooded the market with pirated editions of the six illustrated books he produced between 1915 and 1931. His illustrated edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, published by George G. Harrap, London, in 1919 and reissued in 1923, was his most popular work, a macabre exploration of the human psyche. The cover to the second updated edition of 1923 shows a bearded figure pulling aside a stage curtain as if to welcome readers into the disturbing world of Poe’s — and Clarke’s — imagination. The stage itself appears empty but for a small door cut into the flat green wall in the background. Through the door, we see a miniature figure raising a mitre into the air. Clarke’s dust-jacket image is at once a symbolist invocation to horror, with its border of decaying carcasses, distorted figures, and larval growths, and also a deliberate reference to one of the most intriguing and enigmatic self-portraits in modern art history, Diego Velázquez’s Las Meninas (1656). Although Clarke does not portray himself on the cover of Poe, nor in the gruesome illustration for “The Case of M. Valdemar” which similarly alludes to Las Meninas, both images — with their significant perspectival gaze back to a small open door framing a silhouetted figure — signal Clarke’s abiding interest in hiding his own face in his works, and his recognition of the long history of self-representation in Western art.

Original author: Kelly Sullivan. This article, Harry Clarke’s Looking Glass, was originally published in The Public Domain Review viewable here under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it, please see:

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