he Burgh Halls of Maryhill – a district in the north-western section of Glasgow. 1 — are adorned by twenty stained glass panels of extraordinary power, beauty, and originality. Created some time between 1877 and 1881 by the barely thirty-year old Stephen Adam in collaboration with David Small, his partner in the studio he opened in Glasgow in 1870, these panels are unique among stained glass works of the time in that they depict the workers of the then independent burgh not for the most part in the practice of traditional trades (baker, weaver, flesher, cooper, hammerman, etc.) (see Pt. III, ch. 2, Figs. 1-3), not clad in traditional, biblical or classical costume -- as, for instance, in the contemporary windows of the Trades Hall in Aberdeen, also by Stephen Adam -- but realistically, as workers dressed in modern working clothes and engaged in the tasks required by the many small modern workshops that had opened in Maryhill, even as vast industrial complexes, such as the Tennant chemical works, employing over a thousand workers in the 1840s, were set up in adjacent burghs on the north side of Scotland’s then continuously expanding industrial metropolis. The style is also simpler and starker than was common in stained glass art at the time, with exceptionally strong leadlines, larger than usual glass pieces, and a similarly unusual color palette highlighting the composition and producing an effect of both sober, meticulous realism and neo-classical idealism. Salvaged and kept in storage for many years as the Burgh Halls fell into disrepair following the drastic twentieth-century decline of industry in Glasgow, and partly restored only recently to their original site after the Halls’ rehabilitation as a community and conference centre 2 (see Part III, ch. 3, fig. 7), the panels have lately attracted the attention and admiration of a small number of scholars and writers -- notably Michael Donnelly, Iain Galbraith, Ian Mitchell, and Gordon R. Urquhart. “The finest collection of secular stained glass in Scotland” (Urquhart 33) rarely figures, however, even in books and articles devoted to nineteenth-century stained glass.
I have written this essay with the aim of bringing Stephen Adam’s panels to the attention of amateurs of the arts beyond Glasgow and Scotland and especially in the United States, and thus lending what modest support I can to the pioneering studies of Donnelly, Galbraith, Mitchell, and Urquhart. However, as the history of stained glass and the main esthetic issues that arose concerning it in Adam’s time are a relatively unstudied and unfamiliar topic among non-specialists (including, until quite recently, the writer of these lines), I have devoted a substantial part of my study to questions of context. Part I reflects my puzzlement, on discovering Adam’s panels, at my own general ignorance of and even indifference to the art of stained glass, despite a longstanding interest in and enjoyment of other visual arts. Why is stained glass so little known and poorly understood? In Part II I have attempted to acquaint the reader with the conditions in which Adam’s work was produced: the revival of stained glass in the nineteenth century and the lively debates, in which Adam himself participated, about what authentic stained glass is, what it should and should not be. Part III is devoted to the work of the Adam studio and to the panels themselves and their unusual, perhaps even unique style. Three appendices fill out this section. The first, by Ian R. Mitchell, a revised version of a section on the Maryhill panels in his highly readable and richly informed 2013 book A Glasgow Mosaic: Cultural Icons of the City (Edinburgh: Luath Press) describes and explains the real historical background of the various activities reflected in the panels; the second, an article by Iain B. Galbraith in the Journal of Stained Glass, vol. XXX (2006), provides a brief but comprehensive overview, by a scholar of stained glass, of Adam’s career and accomplishments in his chosen medium; and the third offers a provisional chronology of Adam’s work in glass over the four decades of his productive life.
I have been helped and encouraged by many people as I explored Adam’s work or sought to obtain images of it or information about it. The generosity and responsiveness of almost everyone I contacted has been moving and inspiring. I would like to express my gratitude, first and foremost, to Ian Mitchell and Iain Galbraith, not only for permitting me to include sections from their own work on Adam in the present volume but for their continued advice, and for acting as my proxies in Glasgow, providing me with photographs, and looking into the historical background of particular works. In particular, I could not have done without Ian Mitchell’s constant encouragement and active intervention.
In addition, I am indebted to Tom Barclay of the Carnegie Public Library in Ayr for photographs of the Adam window; to Gil Barlow for a photograph of one of Frederick Preedy’s windows at Church Lench in Worcestershire; to the energetic Scottish conservationist and gifted photographer Gordon Barr, for sharing his remarkable photographs of Adam’s Clyde Navigation Trust building (Clydeport) panels with me; to Mary Kay Bosshart for photographs of guild windows at Chartres; to Dr. Phil Brown for a photograph of a modern window marking the 750th anniversary of the Church of Our Lady and All Saints in Chesterfield, Derbyshire; to Ray J. Brown in distant Australia for permission to reproduce a photograph of one of many Munich windows installed in Australian churches in the nineteenth century; to Kathleen Cohen of San Jose State University in California for an image, from her vast collection, of a panel representing workmen at Freiburg Cathedral; to the eminent scholar and photographer of stained glass Painton Cowen for permission to reproduce part of his photograph of a window by Charles Connick at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York; to Dr. Robin Darwall-Smith, F.S.A., F.R.Hist.S., archivist for University College and Magdalen College in Oxford, who generously donated an outstanding photograph of a Van Linge window at University College; to Sam Fogg of the Sam Fogg gallery in London for permission to use two photographic reproductions of 16th century roundels displayed on the gallery’s website; to John Gorevan, an authority on Glasgow pubs, for taking pictures of Adam’s humorous but hard to reach stained glass panels in the Imperial Bar on Howard Street; to Rev. Roddy Hamilton, the minister of New Kilpatrick Church in Bearsden, for checking on windows in his church for me; and to History Girls Scotland -- Karen Mailley-Watt and Rachel Purse -- for a high resolution image of the fine window in that church that Alf Webster designed in tribute to his teacher, employer, and friend, as well as for other images of windows by Alf Webster; to David Lewis, for images of the windows in the parish church at Alloway; to Andrew Macnair for permission to use images from his father’s book on the stained glass windows of Glasgow Cathedral; to Brian McCormick, Jim McCreery, and Andy Shearer of Eastwood Photographic Society, who made their photographs of the windows in Clark Memorial Church in Largs available to me, and to Dr. Nigel Lawrie, also of Eastwood Photographic Society, who made me a CD with very high resolution images of those windows; to Ian Munro of St. Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen for a photograph of Adam’s Clark Memorial window there; to Nondas Pitticas, the community administrator at St. Luke’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Glasgow (formerly Belhaven Church), who took photographs of the Adam windows in his church specifically for my use; to David Robertson, a project director at Four Acres Trust, an agency dedicated to restoring important Victorian buildings in Glasgow, for providing me with a fine high-resolution photograph of Daniel Cottier’s “Miriam” in the former Dowanhill Church; to Gilda Smith of Dalry, Ayrshire, for photographs of the Munich windows in St. Margaret’s Church there; to Lindsay Watkins of Helensburgh Heritage for identifying work by Adam at St. Michael’s and All Angels Episcopal Church in Helensburgh and for much valuable help and support; to Stephen Weir, the director of a contemporary stained glass studio in Glasgow, for a photograph of and information concerning a window by Adam and Alf Webster in St. Nicholas Church, Lanark; to Donald Whannell of the remarkable Neilston Webcam Photo Gallery (email@example.com) for a photograph of the interior of the beautiful eighteenth-century St. Andrew’s Church in Glasgow where Adam carried out one of his earliest commissions; and last, but by no means least, to Gordon R. Urquhart not only for his prompt and helpful responses to my requests for information, but for invaluable, unsolicited contributions and several high resolution images. Christine Grady of Maryhill Burgh Halls Trust and Winnie Tyrell, the Photo Library Co-ordinator for Glasgow Life/Glasgow Museums, did everything they could to facilitate reproduction of photographs of the Adam panels themselves in the present volume, while Marie-Luise Stumpff, Senior Conservator at the Burrell Collection of the Glasgow Museums, who worked on the restoration of the Adam panels, communicated essential technical information about them.
Finally, I am deeply indebted to the editors of VictorianWeb, to Jacqueline Banerjee for suggesting in the first place that this essay might be suitable for posting on their remarkable website, and to Professor George P. Landow, her co-editor and founder of VictorianWeb, for devoting countless hours, enviable technical expertise, and deep knowledge of Victorian history and culture to reformatting the original ms. and revising it for web publication.
To all those wonderfully kind-hearted and generous contributors to this work, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks.
Many of the endnotes in the following chapters are unusually long. As in my recent study of Thomas Annan, the nineteenth-century Glasgow photographer, it has been my aim to keep the main text as uncluttered as possible while providing additional relevant information and quotations in the notes, along with abundant bibliographical indications to assist readers who might wish to pursue themes touched on in the text.
1 Maryhill started out as a small village at the time of the construction of the Forth and Clyde Canal in the late 18th century, developed rapidly in the wake of the commercial and industrial activities attracted by the canal, and achieved burgh status in 1856, before being absorbed into the city of Glasgow in 1891.
2 See “Historic Stained Glass returns to Maryhill Burgh Halls.” Craft Scotland. (27 February 2012). Web. 15 June 2016.
3 Gordon R. Urquhart, A Notable Ornament: Lansdowne Church: An Icon of Victorian Glasgow (Glasgow: Glasgow City Heritage Trust, 2011), p. 145.
Created 25 June 2016