Richard King was born in Castlebar in 1907. His father was a sergeant in the Royal Irish Constabulary. There was an artistic streak in the family. His uncle, Brian King, was a sculptor. Richard attended the De La Salle College in Castlebar before his family moved to Westport in 1922, where he completed his education with the Christian Brothers.
When the family located to Dublin in 1926 he became a student at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, planning to study architecture. Austin Molloy, a tutor at the college, felt his artistic talent lay in a different direction.
He introduced him to Harry Clarke, the most significant Irish stained glass artist of the 20th century. King joined Clarke’s studio. On Clarke’s death in 1931, he became its chief designer, and later manager. In 1940 he set up his own studio in Dalkey.
Examples of King’s stained glass are mainly to be found in Ireland, though he also features in the UK, Australia and the US. In her article, Ruth Sheehy concentrates on his work in St Patrick’s Church, Newport, and in the Church of Our Lady, Help of Christians in Swinford.
King’s artistic achievements were not confined to the genre of stained glass. He was versatile. In the early years of the new Irish state our postage stamps were noteworthy for the quality of their design. Between 1933 and 1949, King provided designs for 12 stamps, including a hurling one in 1934 to mark the Golden Jubilee of the GAA. He was the leading illustrator for the Capuchin Annual. He exhibited paintings in Dublin and Cork.
He is, however, best known for his interest in liturgical art. The theologian, Paul Tillich, once wrote that it ‘is the task of the Church architects to create places of consecration where people feel able to contemplate the holy in the midst of their secular life’. As an architect of stained glass and a creator of church paintings, King implicitly devoted himself to this aim.
King’s paintings of the Stations of the Cross in Swinford are a striking impression of his artistic talent. Here he was especially influenced by the Spanish artist, El Greco, and the French artist, Georges Rouault, both noted for their dramatic representations of Jesus Christ. The stations concentrate intensely on Christ’s physical and psychological sufferings as he endured his passion. They give a close-up view, vigorously expressed by the use of strong contrasting colours such as reds, blues, yellows and whites.
Fr. Kevin Hegarty in the Mayo News.
They are in order of descent: Sts. Patrick, Bridget, Columcille, Columba, Fiacra, Senan, Lorcan (Lawrence) and Ita.
I hope you find them interesting.