The Crucifixion, Llandaff Cathedral, by James Silvester Sparrow (1862-1929). 1906. Left: Whole window. Right: Close-up of St John. [Click on these images, and the one below, to enlarge them.]

Closer view of Mary Magdalene.

Unfortunately, the window is in an aisle (the south wall of the south aisle), tucked away behind the organ. But it is a powerful composition. Colin Price notes here "a desperate sense of apocalypse — darkness at noon," and points out that "Mary Magdalene, conventionally depicted with golden hair, joins the usual figures [the Virgin Mary on the left, and St John on the right]." The Virgin Mary looks older than usual, appropriately so, and prays earnestly at the foot of the cross on which her son suffers and dies. At the bottom of the middle light is the iridescent snake of Eden, finally vanquished by the supreme sacrifice. Other parts of the complete window are interesting too: below the dove of the Holy Spirit, there are the partially obscured sun and moon in the quatrefoil tracery lights, while the upper part of the cross has the green patchwork of nature on it, representing the stage from which Jesus's ascent must be made.

The window was given in memory of James Insole who passed away in January 1901 at the age of 79 (see Lambert 180). The Insoles were an influential local family: the Cardiff architect Edwin Seward had enlarged their mansion, Insole Court, for them, and they were important donors to the Cardiff Royal Infirmary, where a ward was named after them.

Photographs by Colin Price, and text by Jacqueline Banerjee with Price's help. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


"J. Silvester Sparrow (1862-1929)." Gwydr Lliw yng Nghymru (Stained Glass in Wales). Web. 7 August 2018.

James, Nevil. The Stained Glass of Llandaff Cathedral. Llandaff: Llandaff Cathedral Shop Committee, 1997.

Lambert, Nick. Llandaff Cathedral. Brigend: Seren, 2010.

Created 7 August 2018