Sin, Shame, Disease, and Death. Church of the Ark of the Covenant. Stamford Hill, London designed by Walter Crane. Manufacturer: J. S. Sparrow. Architect: Messrs. Morris & Son, Reading. Formatting and text by George P. Landow [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Internet Archive and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.it]

“ In the two-light windows flanking [The Rising Sun of Righteousness] are depicted the Powers of Darkness put to flight; Sin and Shame on the one side, on the other Disease and Death (No. 2). These emblematic figures are imaginatively conceived. Sin, draped in white, the cloak of pretended innocence, huddles herself together in the attitude of fear and shrinking ; her bat-shaped wings break with deep purple the blue sky which forms the background to the greater part of the window. The blue below represents the sea, leaden towards the horizon, against which are seen flames, radiating, it may be presumed, from the Sun of Righteousness. A snake, encircling the figure, whispers the counsel of evil; and fulfils at the same time the decorative function of connecting, by the prismatic colour of its scales, the purple of the wings above with the colour of the flames below.

No less expressive is the companion figure of Shame, crimson-robed, with dull green wings, ruddy-tipped; about her sombre figure also leap the flames; her bent head, and the painful clutch of her hand upon it, are full of meaning.

There is something most appropriately morbid in the many-hued raiment of Disease, crossed by forked tongues of flame; but it lends itself to strangely fascinating colour. The head is crowned, Medusa-like, with wriggling snakes, in place of locks of hair. The action of the arm behind the head, and the hand clutching the drapery on her breast, are indicative of intense pain. The white -shrouded figure of Death counterbalances in colour the figure of Sin. It again is encircled by a snake, which fulfils much the same decorative purpose as before ; but in this case Death's livid hand grips it by the neck. The other hand, uplifted, lets fall a blood- stained dart. It is a grim and ghastly figure enough; but at the same time admirably decorative. Imagine a white-clad figure, with greenish flesh and purplish wings, against a blue background, the blue and purple echoed, in fainter key, in the snake against the drapery. Its coils break the mass of white, whilst the greenish flames below, growing yellower as they begin to wrap the figure about, carry the lighter tones of colour into the lower part of the window. A clever point in the construction of these designs is the way the faces of Disease and Shame are artfully set in the colour of the drapery, as Death's dark visage is wrapped in the folds of her white garment. To have made these painful subjects not only dramatically impressive, but at the same time decoratively delightful, is something of a triumph in design. ” (The Art Journal, p. 199).

Other windows by Crane in this church

References

Day, Lewis F. “The Windows of a New Church.” The Art Journal. N. S. London: J. S. Virtue, 1893. Internet Archive. Web. 12 February 2012.


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Last modified 12 February 2012