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tephen Adam’s own thoughts about stained glass, as expressed in various writings – a 35-page booklet entitled Stained Glass: Its History and Modern Development (1877), an article in The British Architect (vol. 39, 1893), a pamphlet on Truth in Decorative Art (1896; second edition, 1904), and a substantial contribution to George Eyre-Todd’s The Book of Glasgow Cathedral (1898) – appear to have been much influenced by Winston, though he must also have been well acquainted with fellow-Scot Francis Oliphant’s A Plea for Painted Glass. 76 Adam’s Stained Glass: Its History and Modern Development, published by James MacLehose, the Glasgow University publisher, when the author was not quite 30 years old, opens on the very same tripartite division (“Mosaic,” “Enamel,” and “Mosaic Enamel”) that Winston had proposed three decades earlier and, proceeding along the same general lines in an account of the historical development of the medium, offers judgments virtually identical to those of Winston. Thus the “Early English style” demonstrates the fundamental principles of stained glass as a medium: “Every line would seem to show [. . .] that the master glazier knew he was drawing for an opening in stone for admission of enriched light, arranging his pictures to accord with architectural divisions of such opening. [. . .] Figure and canopy windows of this style [. . .] are characterized by a certain rude simplicity. The canopies, minus the false perspective of later times, are correct as a canopy can be, under which a richly coloured figure is seen, not drawn to strict anatomical rules, but more satisfactory in position than some over-draped modern ones that are.” 77 Nevertheless, like Winston, Adam warns against slavish modern imitation of thirteenth-century work. As present-day artists, he writes, “we have all facilities in the way of material (thanks to recent efforts [a reference to the newly revived technique of “antique” glassmaking, to the development of which Winston had contributed substantially]) and what more do we want but the honest desire to do original work? That hankering after the past, in practice, and repeating of dead patterns, retards art, advancing backward with back to the light.” 78 With the “Decorated style,” from the end of the thirteenth to the end of the fourteenth century, the introduction of yellow stain was a “useful” novelty that makes it “now possible to show two colours on one piece of glass.”
Therewith, however, “the thin edge of the wedge is in. [Italics in text] Work rapidly becomes less mosaic in treatment, many of the pot metal colours [are] now left out. Larger pieces of glass [are] used, with more detail on each piece. [. . .] The perfect flatness, so evident in [the] early English period is gone and [the] way is being paved for [the] succeeding perpendicular style.”79 While “delicate foliage and diaper work give much pleasure” and “shields and other heraldic ornaments show good colour, [. . .] in figures lines are thinner; faces and naked parts are white with hair stained yellow.” Worse still, “forced and ridiculous attitudes [are] the rule.” In addition, colors have become “thinner and colder.” 80 Like Winston, Adam draws a mixed picture of the historical development pointing to significant and portentous losses, but also recognizing some gains.
Developed further, the changes that came with the “Decorated style” lead to “a style in which, as far as glass is concerned,” Adam declares, “I see little to admire, viz. the perpendicular.” With the introduction of the “stipple shade” 81 glass painters are now inspired “to emulate the shaded beauties of the mural pictures now seen in interior decorations.” In general, stained glass loses sight of its essential characteristics and begins to emulate the altogether different medium of painting on canvas, wood or walls. “In [the] form of architectural constructions, perspective is imitated,” while stippling makes it possible to “transcribe those delicate folds in drapery, -- those softened horizon effects, correct enough on canvas or wall, where blending is possible, but incongruous on glass where the black decided metal outline is indispensable to the existence of the whole composition.” Inevitably, glass makers “now dispense with lead outline to a great extent.” Moreover, new coloring techniques, the possibility of applying color to the surface of the glass instead of its being derived from the glass itself, result in the “scattering” of lead lines -- another change noted and deplored by Winston -- inasmuch as these cease to structure the composition, becoming instead “conspicuous by their irregularity, [. . .] undesirable necessities.” (Fig.1) Glass painters have “now no thought but to fill in their window openings with pictures, which, to be perfect, must closely resemble the altar canvases.” 82
Still, again like Winston, Adam in no way endorses rigid adherence to the early practices of stained glass. He admires the fine drawing that often accompanies work in the new styles. “Before passing from this period in which I see so little to admire,” he draws attention to “the clever paintings in brown and yellow executed on a single pane of glass, where the pictorial fancies are not marred by lead work.” (He probably had in mind here the small, easily transportable roundels created in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by Swiss, German, and Netherlandish, as well as some French and English artists, and often used as gifts.) (Figs. 2, 3)
Left: Figure 1. Samson and the Lion. Germany. Sixteenth-Century. Middle: Figure 2. St Nicholas as Baker. Roundel. Netherlands. Sixteenth century. Right: Figure 3. Dirck Vellert. Le Jugement de Cambyse. Roundel. Netherlands. 1541.
In these “the pencilling is exquisite, and much is learned by a close examination.” In fact, he concedes, if he sees so little to admire in this period, this could well be from “having seen so little.” And he defers to Winston who claims to have seen fine work in this style in Munich -- “and few men have seen more” than Winston (Stained Glass 17).
Though the next style identified by Adam moves stained glass even further in the direction of painting and hence ever further from its original and defining character, as both he and Winston understood it, Adam again follows Winston in acknowledging the artistry of some of its practitioners. The Cinque Cento style “may be termed the very perfection of picture-painted glass,” he writes, “a style in which most wonderful and magnificent effects are attained, in which the figures in [the] later part of it are full of dash and vigour.” The stained glass artists of this period, Adam asserts -- characteristically expressing both approval and disapproval -- are resolutely modern. “No troubling now about the past, and its struggles to keep windows like windows. No more half-hearted Gothic imitations. No. The Cinque Cento artist says: We have mastered the material. With it, or rather on it, by expert painting we can imitate anything. [. . .] And this would seem true. Your eye wanders from the frescoes and cartoons of great masters to the windows, where much of the same magnificence is observed, illustrating the influence which one branch of art exerts over another.”84 The technical skill of these sixteenth-century glass painters was formidable:
We find every expedient made use of for attaining of effect [. . .] -- double staining, working both sides of glass, even cutting out holes in it, rubies and blues etched, most profuse enrichments on head-dresses, armour &c.; [in] the ornamental portions the same liveliness and variety[.] Roman-like embellishments, foliage in scrolls, vases, festoons, tassels, ribbons, birds, beasts, and fish, all are employed by these versatile artists, and so well applied, as a rule, that many will, and do exclaim, like a French writer, that this is, indeed, the golden age of glass painting. It is further remarked by an eminent authority [. . .] that, though it did not then attain perfection, [stained glass] reached a degree of excellence which has not only never been equalled but also affords satisfactory grounds for the belief that if glass-painting cannot boast of possessing examples as full of artistic merits as the works of the great masters, this deficiency is attributable not to any inherent incapacity in this species of painting for a display of high art, but simply to the want of skill in those who have hitherto practised it. [Stained Glass, 18-19]
Surprisingly, one might think, in view of the criticism he was to express of the decision to award the commission for the Glasgow Cathedral windows to the Munich Glasmalerei-Anstalt, Adam goes on to express a high opinion of the work of the Munich artists. He does so, however, only to then compare their work somewhat unfavorably with that of their predecessors in vivid representation, the glassmakers of the Cinque Cento, for whom, still following in the footsteps of Winston, he again expresses seemingly unbounded admiration.
I am inclined [. . .] to think that the manipulative qualities of some of our Munich and Milan windows bring them up to a standard, as far as skilful painting goes, which should exempt them from the censure implied by the view that if stained glass never achieved the artistic heights of the great masters of Renaissance painting, that must be attributed to the shortcomings of its practitioners. If most wonderful handling, and texture, and blending of delicate tints are the principal qualifications of a good church window, Bettina’s work [i.e. Pompeo Bertini’s work!] in our own crypt must be perfection, but, in contradistinction to this modern, carefully hatched, and stippled perfection, we find in [the] Cinque Cento period broad, swift, artistic touch, firm line, and other pictorial qualities, which, though carrying out the work on picture principles, do it in a way which even the most straitlaced medievalist must admire. Who could look at some of those, say the Brussels windows for example, and not feel impressed. [. . .] Each inspection reveals new beauties. Those vast masses of rich umber (though it is brown enamel), [. . .] those glorious swags of fruit in clear golden yellow and intense orange, now crossing a deep shadow, now swung across a grey blue sky, those quaint and expressive subordinate conceits in ornamental details, wrought over panes in square forms generally, over which [. . .] your eye wanders from the stern furrowed face of some saint or warrior [. . .] to the sweet joyous countenance of [a] winged cherub with parted lips [. . .]. All these are found in their highest development in this period. Here, too, are exhibited the devotional feeling which actuated the inner life of their contemporaries as displayed in the kneeling figure of [a] medieval lady, costumed as becomes her station, to the richly attired churchman with crozier and stole “lifting his holy hands” in the act of benediction.
“Yes,” Adam concludes, “this is indeed the golden age of glass painting” (Stained Glass 19-21). (Figs. 4, 5)
Typically, however (of both Winston and Adam), this acknowledgment is immediately followed by an important rider, printed in italics: “mark the word” -- the word that is to be marked being “painting.” For it needs to be observed, Adam warns, “before leaving this style, that the best work was produced invariably in [the] first half of [the] sixteenth century.[. . .] In [the] later half much change is shown in general treatment, by the gradual introduction and use of enamel colours, which, by the simplicity of their application, render easy the only aim the glass painter had – the close imitation of oil painting. The result of this fatal facility [italics in text] is, that the work loses much of its former brilliancy. The shadows no longer show transparency; from their being less flat and stippled, they look mere dabs of colour [ . . .]. An accumulation of these faults go to form the style which we term the Intermediate [. . .], embracing all glass from the close of Cinque Cento until [the] Gothic revival of forty or fifty years ago.” The work in this style “varies much in merit, and illustrates many schools of painting, and consequently is not a uniform style.” It is, however, “an inferior style.” To it can be attributed “the gradual deterioration, and, later on, the almost total extinction of the art.”
Left: Figure 4. God creates man; God creates woman as companion for man; and the serpent Satan and Eve give the apple to Adam. Absidial windows, Milan, Cathedral. Figure 5. Alleged profanation of the host by Brussels Jews. Sainte-Gudule Cathedral, Brussels. Sixteenth-Century. Right: Figure 6. Dirck Vellert. Martyrdom of the Seven Maccabees and their mother. Antwerp, 1530-35.
Winston is now quoted directly: “Glass painting at this time did not decline for want of encouragement, as the causes of its decay were in full operation at the period of its greatest prosperity, but from a confounding of its principles with those of other systems of painting.” Adam subscribes wholly to this view. It is customary, he writes, to attribute the decline of the art of stained glass to “the Reformation and consequent troubles.” But “I think differently. These events may have discouraged its practice, but we may distinguish the germs of its decadence in the false art – false in principle, false and inconsistent in execution” of the immediately preceding period (Stained Glass 21-22). Nonetheless, even at this point Adam keeps a fairly open mind. “The brothers Van Linge,” (Abraham [fl. 1624-41] and Bernard [1598-1644]), we are told, “distinguished themselves by their judicious combinations of enamel colours which to this day exist in Oxford and other places. (See Pt. I, Ch. 1, figs. 2, 3) Much really beautiful work is also shown in those quaint panes of Swiss glass of the time. Some in South Kensington [the present Victoria and Albert Museum] will repay close inspection.” Later still, “Antwerp Cathedral has some windows showing powerful figure drawing.” (Fig. 6) Still, even the best drawing cannot compensate for “the effeminate niceties of enamel work [. . .] We may imagine what the drawings [of Sir Joshua Reynolds for the window at New College,Oxford] must have been, but we know what the glass is like” (Stained Glass 21-22). (See Pt. I, Ch. 1, fig. 7) Stained glass, in sum, it should never be forgotten, has its own principles, characteristics, and beauty, and they are not those of painting. On the other hand, the advocates of a narrowly defined Gothic Revival continue to find no favor with Adam: “The Gothic architect, the Gothic glass-stainer, and many other Goths [. . .] awaken to the beauties of early days. For the Gothic church” – whether old or newly built in the Gothic style – “they want medieval windows and figures.” These, however, are only too “easily got” for “many glass-stainers about know the ‘requisite little’ to produce them, and they bring forth with little travail, but evidently very much.” The design is totally derivative and follows models that reflect a still primitive stage in the development of European art: “Observe those twisted necks; painfully pathetic faces; the dainty curly hair, each hair alike; those angular limbs, [the] more grotesque [. . .], the better for [the] purpose. And those deformities are manufactured and catalogued principally in London; and the country is overrun with ‘stock saints and evangelists’ of all sizes at per foot prices.[. . .] True, they revive transparency and discard enamel,” but “with it, all originality.” Following Winston, Adam demands not more or less successful copies of old glass, but a modern stained glass art, an art for his own time, constrained only by respect for and observance of the basic principles of stained glass as a medium: “Medieval glass in many ways faithfully chronicled the past; this modern imitation [. . .] is degrading, a positive contradiction all through, and chronicles nothing but its own deformity.”89
Despite the “endeavours of some faithful artists [. . .] to establish a nineteenth century British school,” it is, in fact, the absence of art and the lack of imagination characteristic of most “Gothic Revival” British stained glass that have brought about the “Nemesis, now appearing in the form of continental glass.” For it is not surprising that clients who, whether or not they have an understanding of what “glass-drawing should be,” at least know what “drawing could be, [. . .] would turn away from this revived British glass and its repulsive qualities and accept the more captivating German productions.” In these, whatever their defects, clients can at least find “composition not wanting in devout feeling and well-drawn expressive features and drapery.” Winston is again quoted directly: “As has been well said, they prefer art without transparency to transparency 90 (Stained Glass 25-26).
Adam recognizes that he might seem to be contradicting himself in holding that twelfth and thirteenth century glass contains “the very germ of what is correct” in stained glass, while at the same time endorsing the view that “a style quite opposite” – i.e. that of the Cinque Cento –“is the golden age of glass painting.” In fact, however, he explains, he is advocating that one “cherish and cultivate the purity and principle of the first” and, at the same time, “endeavour, by accepting our modern increased scale of colour, to emulate or increase its many beauties. [. . .] In short, with [the] form and sweet simplicity of one, [. . .] unite the colour harmonies of [the] other.” The union or reconciliation of the two would constitute the “‘ne plus ultra’ for the modern development of stained glass.” The lesson for the stained glass artist is clear: “In domestic work, let our first aim be to show symmetry in lead lines, allowing plant forms to be subordinate to the geometrical arrangements, not constructing them.” As for figure drawings, the stained glass designer should seek inspiration in the work of modern artists. “The works of Burne Jones, Leighton, Poynter, Holman Hunt, Stacey Marks, Albert Moore, in different styles show drawing suitable for treatment in glass” (Stained Glass p. 27. Figs. 7, 8)
Left: Figure 7. Albert Moore. A Musician. Oil on canvas, 10 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut. Right: Figure 8. Edward Poynter. Andromeda. 1869. Oil on canvas, 152.4 x 114.2 cm. Pérez Simón Collection, Mexico [Click on images to enlarge them.]
For ecclesiastical glass, “draw as well and expressively as ability will permit” and “let recognized artists only of established ability be employed on the figure cartoons.”
Indeed, “if money considerations will not admit of their employment, figures [. . .] should be left out.” Adam goes on to indicate what he means by “good drawing.” “When I say good drawing, I do not mean elaborate renderings of folds in drapery. No. A certain external form and balancing of parts, as evinced in classic frescoes, Flaxman’s cartoons, and some bas-reliefs by other artists [. . .] better define my ideas and suggest our limits” (Stained Glass 28. Fig. 9)
In a lecture delivered in Glasgow in 1895, Adam cited as influences on his own work “Rossetti, Burne-Jones, William Morris and Puvis de Chavannes”93 – artists in whom, as in Flaxman’s neo-classical style, the linear element and the “external form and balancing of parts” are extremely strong, while figures are arranged on the surface plane with little depth (see Figure 9).
Above all, Adam reiterates his consistent position concerning the fundamental and essential feature of stained glass:
Let us remember that we never can by painful mechanical processes increase those jewelly translucent qualities inherent in good glass. In it we have countless beauties which the painter on canvas has not. Through such virtues then let the light be transmitted to us, not reflected from false painted surfaces. Keep it clearly before us that manipulation is not necessarily art; that higher standards of art are attained, if based on the simple rules the material renders possible. [. . .] We have spoken of the prevalence of German glass amongst us, and frankly admit that German art was not resorted to until we had put ourselves out of court by varied and ever increasing monstrosities. And we are confident that if we return to the old ways and produce really artistic work, there is sufficient patriotism among British connoisseurs to banish forever the foreign productions. [Stained Glass 28, 29]
Adam proposes draconian measures to ensure that high standards will prevail. “Were it possible, we believe it would be beneficial [italics in text] to establish an artistic tribunal for the purpose of trying all work professing to be high art, and arm it with plenary power to accomplish the demolition of the many outrages on taste now extant. Such a tribunal,” he adds, acknowledging the essential place of stained glass within an architectural whole “would necessarily include many architects among its members, for, perhaps, with them more than any other body lies the power to foster art in this particular branch” (Stained Glass 29-30). Better, no doubt, “art without transparency” than “transparency without art.” But the goal of the authentic stained glass artist who truly understands the conditions and possibilities of the medium he is working in must be to create glass that is both transparent and artistic -- neither a mere copy, no matter how faithfully executed by antiquarian standards, nor a painting on glass, no matter how imaginatively designed and expertly executed.
Adam stuck to the position laid out in his first published work throughout his career, repeating it in both his article on the history of stained glass in The British Architect for December 29, 1893 and again in his essay on “The Stained Glass Windows” in The Book of Glasgow Cathedral: A History and Description of 1898. The tripartite division of stained glass styles taken over from Winston is repeated in both texts, as is the rejection of dogmatic Gothic Revivalism. However, the critique of Munich glass and of the extensive use of enamel paint has intensified. Thus the British Architect article closes on the “consolation” to be derived, “not from sordid narrow motives, but for Art’s sake alone,” from “the melancholy fact that the enamel painted surfaces of those German windows is [sic] rapidly giving way (notably in Glasgow Cathedral).” Adam goes further still. “Dare we contemplate, even hope, that the day is not remote when public taste, instigated by our Art guilds, will demand the removal of ‘all that is left of them,’ and give the 19th century draughtsman and native art-trained craftsman a chance of re-lighting the grand interior of St. Mungo’s by refilling the windows with ‘Grisaille’ glass ere the close of the Victorian era and the 19th century.”96 After all, the function of a window is to admit light; and the enamel on the Munich windows was keeping light out, besides already showing signs of fading.
Still, to his credit, Adam does not completely abandon the measured and nuanced views expressed in his earlier work. His judgment of enamel work in stained glass remains negative: even though “the colours after painting are submitted to heat in the kiln and fused on the glass [. . .] they remain merely on the surface and in course of time are liable to scale off and disappear.” Above all, “from the artistic point of view, the enamel process has this objection – the windows are painted as if the light were to fall on them instead of through them” and “for this reason, they must be held to depart from the true canons of the art.” Thus “by the latter end of the sixteenth century, stained windows were merely imitations of altar or wall pictures -- ‘painted window blinds,’ and untruthful art.”97 Some of the Flemish and Dutch painted glass is admittedly “very exquisite in detail,” but “it remains liable to all the drawbacks mentioned.”
On its side, the Gothic Revival fares no better in 1898 than it did in 1877: “The modern Gothic church wanted Gothic windows, and the stained glass shown at the first International Exhibition illustrates how the demand was met by the British manufacturer. Distorted saints, catalogued at prices per foot, became common; Acts of Mercy, Prodigal Sons, and Good Samaritans were cheap. But in no sense could they be called good art” (“Windows” 400). Given this situation, “it may be said that [Mr. Heath Wilson and the Committee of Subscribers for the windows of Glasgow Cathedral] were forced to go abroad for the work” and “had been forced to prefer ‘art without transparency to transparency without art.’ They, however, did what lay within their power, by the selection of artists of eminence and repute” (“Windows” 400-01).
Left: Figure 10. Heinrich Maria von Hess. Faith, Hope, Charity. 1819. Oil on panel. Middle: Figure 11. Moritz von Schwind. Sabina von Steinbach an der Figur der Synagoge für das Straßburger Münster arbeitend. Oil on canvas. 1844. Right: Figure 12. Johann Schraudolph. Anbetung der Könige. Speyer Cathedral. Fresco. 1852.
Adam mentions in particular the Nazarene artist Heinrich von Hess and Hess’s students, Moritz von Schwind (the close friend of Franz Schubert) and Johann von Schraudolph. There is praise of their work as artists (Figs. 10-12) and at the same time criticism of it as applied to glass. 100 Their windows in the nave, we are told (over thirty at the time, all removed between the 1930s and the 1960s), “strike the eye with the strength and glow of intense colour,” albeit the “primary reds, blues, yellows, and greens” in their “struggle for mastery” create an impression of “discord” rather than harmony. Similarly the viewer can only admire the “beautifully drawn features – heads of men, firm and strong; of women sweet and natural,” and the “effective figure groups, as in the great west window by von Schwind.” Again, however, Adam notes that these are “marred by the repeated carpet-like patterns in vivid colours which surround them.” The north transept window by von Hess, singled out for “some splendidly drawn figures,” would be “a noble production, but for the chronic over-colouring.” Similarly, in other windows that “arrest the attention” of the viewer, “note must be made of the enamelled flash work, the painted beards of men, the over-manipulated folds of draperies and other infringements of the true rules of glass-staining art.” Admirable as they may be, in short, the designs are unsuited to the medium of stained glass. “The figures are vigorous and bold conceptions, perfect in academic drawing,” but “too literal, too material, and quite devoid of spiritual or ecclesiastical feeling” -- in other words, too painterly, too focused on representing what the physical eye sees and insufficiently attentive to the essential meaning that the design ought to evoke and communicate. The accessory angels are “excessively buxom and healthy,” Adam adds humorously. “All their strength of wing, would be required to sustain them in their hovering attitudes.”101 (Figs. 13-15)
Left: Figure 13. Moritz von Schwind. The Risen Christ. South transept window, Glasgow Cathedral. 1863. Middle left: Figure 14. E. Siebertz. The Dream and the Promise. From North transept window, Glasgow Cathedral. 1860. (Now removed) Middle right: Figure 15. Franz Friez. Angel from Gideon and Ruth window. South transept, Glasgow Cathedral. 1863. (Now removed) Right: Figure 16. Pompeo Bertini. John the Baptist. Lauder’s Crypt, Glasgow Cathedral. 1867.
For the windows by Pompeo Bertini of Milan, who worked in a similar mode to the Bavarians102 - two in the Cathedral crypt (“Christ and the Syrophoenician Woman” and “Christ and the Woman of Samaria”) and three in Bishop Lauder’s Chapter House crypt (“John the Baptist,” “Luke the Evangelist” and “Our Blessed Saviour”) -- Adam does not conceal his admiration: “As examples of enamel work they rival in perfection of detail, and truthful rendering of faces and draperies, the finest miniature paintings. The silky sheen of the drapery, and life-like expression of features, can only have been got by honest and loving labour, and by repeated firing and fusing of colours in the kiln.” (Fig. 16) To this, Adam concedes, is due “their present satisfactory condition,” whereas, in contrast, “the German windows [. . .] are rapidly fading” (“Windows” 405).
Nevertheless, “despite the beauty of the Milan windows, and the excellence of a few others, the very presence of deeply coloured windows in the lower church is, from every point of view, a serious mistake.” The “beauties of carved stone” in it “were certainly meant to be seen by the light of day.” For that reason, Adam speculates, “the original windows were no doubt leaded work in silvery white or ‘grisaille’ painted glass.” No windows could be more inappropriate in a crypt than the virtually opaque windows produced by the use of enamel paint on white glass (“Windows” 407).
All this was by no means to say that the English windows in the crypt were good. With one exception (“Mary, the Sister of Lazarus” by Clayton & Bell), “the London windows,” we are told, do nothing to “uphold the reputation of English glass.” In general, “had the condition of decorative art work in Britain been in the year 1854 [the time of the commissioning of the windows] what it is in 1898, our noble cathedral would have been beautified more in the spirit and intention of the devout and earnest souls who reared it” (“Windows” 406-07). Adam thus aligned himself aesthetically with English contemporaries, such as Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, Henry Holiday, and Christopher Whall, and with other Scottish stained glass artists, such as Daniel Cottier, his former employer and teacher, James and William Guthrie, Hugh McCulloch, a graduate of Cottier’s studio like himself, as well as with upcoming younger men, such as Oscar Paterson, George Walton, and his own assistants David Gauld and Alf Webster, who went on to establish reputations of their own. He had a vision of stained glass as a medium defined by particular properties -- but released from what he considered an inhibiting association with the work of the Middle Ages and committed instead to modern design and modern forms of expression.
In conclusion, it deserves to be noted that recent work by scholars of stained glass has challenged the extreme and unequivocally negative judgments of the Munich windows of Glasgow Cathedral that were expressed at the time of their installation and in the years following and has in some measure vindicated the more guarded and nuanced stance taken by Winston and Adam. 106
In this web version some of the original endnotes have been converted to in-text page citations, so the notes below do not form a complete sequence.
76 See Fras. W. Oliphant, A Plea for Painted Glass, being An Inquiry into its Nature, Character, and Objects, and its Claims as an Art (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1855). Adam could not have been unaware of the Descriptive Catalogue of the Painted Glass Windows in Glasgow Cathedral (Glasgow, Francis Orr & Sons, n.d. [c. 1856]) by Charles Heath Wilson, head of the newly established (1849) Government School of Design in Glasgow -- the future Glasgow School of Art -- and chair of the Committee of Subscribers which had been empowered to commission stained glass windows for the whole of Glasgow’s 13th-Century Cathedral and which notoriously awarded the commission to the Munich Königliche Glasmalerei-Anstalt rather than to any of the Scottish or even English stained glass workshops active at the time. Though Wilson uses somewhat different terminology, he clearly adopts Winston’s tripartite categorization:
The most ancient and best system of glass painting has been called the mosaic enamel. According to this process, the painted window is composed of a mosaic of white and coloured glass, united with ribands of lead, which generally wind round the outlines of the figures and ornaments, the shading and details of form being produced by means of a brown enamel skilfully painted on the glass -- hence the expression ‘glass painting’ -- and subsequently burned in and so fixed.
Yellow stain was added in the fourteenth century and the technique of abrasion in the fifteenth. Later still, however,
the art of painting in enamels was carried so far that windows were produced entirely composed of coloured enamels applied to white glass; this art is still practised with extraordinary skill at Munich, at Milan, and until lately at Sèvres, and is very beautiful but quite unsuitable for church windows. [. . .] An intermediate style, between the mosaic enamel and the enamel, is a combination of both, the effect being produced by means of pot metal, coated glass, and both brown and covered [coloured] enamels. A certain sparing use of coloured enamels may be permitted, but a free use of this system is to be deprecated.
Acknowledging that there are “several specimens of this mixed method in the Crypt,” he judged their “effect oppressive,” since “the proper translucency of the glass is impaired.” (pp. 4-5) The argument, in short, is close to that of Winston, but Winston’s formulation is more categorical and Adam follows Winston in this regard.
77 Stained Glass: Its History and Modern Development (Glasgow: James MacLehose, 1877), pp. 18-19. Adam’s writing in this short work is sometimes strange. Whether because of poor copy-editing or a deliberate decision to publish his unedited notes, articles are often missing and sentences abbreviated, at times almost to the point of unintelligibility. Slight changes have been made to the text where it might otherwise have been hard to follow. These are indicated by square brackets.
78 Stephen Adam, Stained Glass: Its History and Modern Development, p. 11. The same tripartite distinction, taken over from Winston, is again evoked on pp. 397-98 of the chapter on “The Stained Glass Windows” that Adam contributed to The Book of Glasgow Cathedral. A History and Description, ed. George Eyre-Todd (Glasgow: Morison Brothers, 1898), pp. 395-407. Adam specifies here that “though costly,” only the mosaic style “is durable, and experience has shown it to be the only style to which the term genuine stained glass can be truthfully applied.” (p. 398)
79 Stained Glass: Its History and Modern Development, pp. 14-15. The same expression – “the thin edge of the wedge is in” -- is used in Adam’s article “Some Notes on the History of Stained Glass” in The British Architect (29 December 1893) 39:481-91, on pp. 481-82. Cf. Robert Sowers in his article on “Stained Glass” in the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “With the progress of glass technology in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, [. . .] the glass became less visually interesting as an aesthetic element in its own right.”
80 “The white glass has become colder and thinner in tone,” the blue is also “thinner and colder,” though admittedly “the yellow has improved, being of a greenish brown hue, and when used with the stained yellow [. . .] rich effects result.” (Stained Glass: Its History and Modern Development, p. 15)
81 The “stipple shade” is explained in Adam’s article in “Some Notes on the History of Stained Glass,” The British Architect, 39.482. Cf. in the second half of the twentieth century, the following passage in John Harries, Discovering Stained Glass, 3rd ed. (Princes Risborough, 1996 [1st ed. 1968]):“The introduction at this time of the ‘stipple’ treatment, fires the glass-painter to emulate the shaded effects of mural paintings now common as interior decorations – the ‘stipple’ shade [created by fine hatching of brown paint with a pen or small brush –L.G.] being semi-transparent, enables them to imitate delicate folds of drapery, and softened horizon effects in skies correct enough on canvas or wall, but incongruous on glass where the black decided metal outline is indispensable to the existence of the whole composition.”
82 Stained Glass: Its History and Modern Development, p. 17. Hereafter cited in text as Stained Glass 17 Compare in the second half of the twentieth century, the following passage in John Harries, Discovering Stained Glass (Princes Risborough: Shire Publications, 2006).
By the end of the fifteenth century simplicity, strength, and brilliance were gradually being lost from stained glass; during the sixteenth century they disappeared. This was largely due to the influence of the art of the Renaissance, which was man-oriented, not god-oriented. [. . .] Renaissance artists were interested in the material world: anatomy was studied and perspective mastered. These preoccupations affected stained glass design: the types of window stayed the same, but the treatment was very different. Figures were more realistic and were set in solid -looking landscapes, complete with buildings, skies, and trees; or else they were surrounded by interiors filled with their belongings and furniture. A clutter of objects seems to press in on the figures: there is pride in their possession and virtuosity in their presentation. The result is a materialistic quality that is quite in contrast to that of medieval glass. Shading is produced by heavy stippling – a cruder and more mechanical effect that that produced by line drawing. Stained glass begins to imitate contemporary painting. [p. 67]
Also, in similar vein, Robert Sowers in his Encyclopaedia Britannica article, cited above: “From this point on the relation between stained glass and architecture begins to decline. The aims, techniques, and achievements of the stained-glass artist begin to resemble those of the fresco and easel painters, and it is by the standards applicable to the latter that the stained glass of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries must be judged.” “The period 1430-1550 saw [. . .] the beginning of the transformation of the art of glass painting from a significant means of artistic expression into a hybrid art form: the translucent emulation of fresco and easel painting.” “Painting glass with vitraeous enamels in the 17th and 18th centuries led to the final decline of the art of stained glass.”
84 Stained Glass: Its History and Modern Development, p. 18. Repeated virtually word for word sixteen years later in the article “Some Notes on the History of Stained Glass,” The British Architect (1893), 39: 482.
89 Stained Glass, p.25. Sixteen years later, Adam held to this judgment, repeating it almost word for word in a passage (already partly quoted in note 33) in “Some Notes on the History of Stained Glass,” published in The British Architect (December 29, 1893) 39: 481-91:
Gothic churches wanted mediaeval windows and figures, and many glass stainers about, knowing the ‘requisite little’ to produce them, brought forth in large quantities grotesque twisted saints, with wry faces, at per foot prices: issued catalogues and flooded the country with stock ‘Acts of Mercy,’ ‘Evangelists and Miracles,’ by dirtying the surface of the poor thin glass then made. Those Revivalists attempted to give age, and by painful labour imitated the texture of Mediaeval glass. For examples, see Illustrated Catalogues of first International Exhibition, and even the last one, and in many so-called established firms in London those deformities are still being manufactured, and imitated by provincial glass stainers, who, despite the ‘Renaissance’ in all appertaining to decorative art going on around us, do willfully shut their eyes so long as Art -ignorant clients will employ them. It is to be deplored that the earnest endeavour of some faithful artists to establish a 19th Century British School were not strong enough to resist the Nemesis appearing in the form of Continental glass, which, with shame let it be said, now fills the windows and destroys the interiors of more than one venerable cathedral in our country. [p. 482]
93 Stephen Adam, Truth in Decorative Art (Glasgow: Carter & Pratt, 1896), p. 33, cit. by Michael Donnelly, Scotland’s Stained Glass: Making the Colours Sing (Edinburgh: The Stationary Office, 1997), p. 32 and by Iain B. Galbraith, “Always happy in his designs: the legacy of Stephen Adam,” The Journal of Stained Glass, 30 (2006): 121-35, on p. 121. In the same pamphlet, based on his lecture, Adam praised the glass made by Morris & Co. and “designed partly by Dante Rossetti, Burne Jones and William Morris” for the then West Parish Church in nearby Greenock: “Finer examples of modern work there is not in the United Kingdom and a journey to Greenock will well repay the student and lover of good church glass.” (Cit. in Gordon R. Urquhart, A Notable Ornament: Lansdowne Church: An Icon of Victorian Glasgow [Glasgow: Glasgow City Heritage Trust, 2011], p. 141) The judgment of Adam by the prominent stained glass scholar Martin Harrison, is well grounded: “Between 1870 and 1885 the firm of Adam & Small made the finest stained glass of that period in Scotland, dominated always by Adam’s figure drawing, which owed a little to the Pre-Raphaelites but much more to the neo-classicists.” (Victorian Stained Glass [See note 30 above], p. 56)
96 “Some Notes on the History of Stained Glass,” The British Architect 39 (December 29, 1893): 481-91.
97 “The Stained Glass Windows,” The Book of Glasgow Cathedral. A History and Description, ed. George Eyre-Todd (Glasgow: Morison Brothers, 1898), p. 399. Hereafter cited in text as (“Windows” 399).
100 Adam’s ambivalent attitude to Munich glass was shared by his eminent compatriot, the artist William Dyce, who was close to the Nazarene artists in Rome, especially Overbeck and Schnorr von Carolsfeld, but a severe critic of the glass created in Munich, in particular to a design of his own for the church in Alnwick, Northumberland, which the Duke of Northumberland, against Dyce’s wishes, insisted on having made in Munich. (See Marcia Pointon, William Dyce 2106-1864 [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979], pp. 14, 34-35, 139; William Vaughan, German Romanticism and English Art [New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1979], p. 243 et passim.) Even the architect George Edmund Street, a leading Gothic Revival architect and active member of the Ecclesiological Society, the influential association of convinced “Gothicists” that had succeeded the earlier Cambridge Camden Society, could express his rejection of Munich stained glass in terms that acknowledged the skill of the artists while maintaining that it was unsuitable for the medium: “In the Munich glass at Cologne, or in the church of S. Maria Hilf at Munich, I think everyone’s feeling must be -- much as he may admire the magnificence of the offering or the boldness of the attempts -- that it would have been much more delightful to see such subjects represented on the walls than essayed in windows.” (Quoted by Vaughan, p. 244)
101 “The Stained Glass Windows,” The Book of Glasgow Cathedral, pp. 402-03. Adam might have responded more favorably to designs by the earliest Nazarene painters, such as Overbeck, Pforr, and Schnorr von Carolsfeld, whose work, often in fresco form, is characterised by an emphasis on clear outlines and a preference for flat colors.
102 Bertini opened his glass workshop on his return to Milan after studying with Alexandre Brogniart at the Sèvres porcelain factory in Paris in the early 1800s. On his glass painting technique, see Nancy Thompson, “The State of Stained Glass in 19th Century Italy: Ulisse de Matteis and the vitrail archéologique,“ Journal of Glass Studies, 52 (2010): 217-31: “Instead of joining pieces of glass of various colors together with lead cames to create an image, Bertini painted with many colors of enamel pigments on large pieces of colorless glass. Bertini's work was highly regarded in Milan, and in 1826, the Imperial Regio Istituto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti recognized Bertini, Brenta, and Company for the development of an oven that fixed enameled pigments to glass. An excellent example of Bertini's technique is his window of the Assumption, made for Milan Cathedral about 1833-1837 and based on a drawing by Luigi Sabatelli (1772-1850). To create the window, Bertini divided [. . . ] Sabatelli's composition into rectangular panes and painted each piece of colorless glass with colored enamels. Because Bertini used mainly rectangular pieces of glass, the overall effect of the lead lines is that of a random web that lies on top of a painting. [. . .] On the whole, the window's composition and the classical modeling of the figures maintain Sabatelli's painting style and ally the Assumption window with academic or Renaissance painting, rather than with medieval traditions of stained glass. Bertini, therefore, used his technical knowledge of enamel painting to transform Sabatelli's drawing into a luminous painting.” (pp. 218-20).
106 For a stimulating, richly-informed re-examination of the whole issue of the Munich windows, see especially Sally Rush, “Ungrateful Posterity? The Removal of the Munich Windows from Glasgow Cathedral,” in Richard Fawcett, ed. Glasgow’s Great Glass Experiment: The Munich Glass of Glasgow Cathedral (Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, 2003), pp. 47-65. Christopher Hall’s judgment of 1905, typical of its time, is cited on p. 58: “I will tell you what has been sacrificed to get this ‘picture-window’ ‘like a picture.’ Stained- glass has been sacrificed, for this is not stained-glass, it is painted glass -- that is to say, it is coloured glass ground up into powder and painted on to white sheets of glass: a poor, miserable substitute for the glorious colour of the deep amethyst and ruby-coloured glasses which it pretends to ape.”
Created 6 June 2016