Westlake, who worked under William Burges for a while, was a close friend of John Francis Bentley. In fact it was through Bentley that Westlake came to join the stained-glass firm of Lavers and Barraud in 1868. Lavers had worked with Clayton of Clayton & Bell, and was a member of the Cambridge Camden (or from 1845 Ecclesiological) Society, so this brought Westlake right into the middle of a rarefied design world, at a time when the stained-glass industry was booming (see Cheshire ix). For his part, Westlake's "knowledge of medieval art, Pre-Raphaelite style and simplification of previously over-elaborate drawing" contributed greatly to the firm's "fame and success in the 1860s" (Campbell 21). Bentley's daughter explains that Westlake later "became a partner and finally the sole proprietor" of the firm (de l'Hôpital 354).
As a leading Gothic Revival designer and authority on stained glass, Westlake wrote a comprehensive 4-volume History of Design in Stained and Painted Glass, which was reprinted in facsimile as recently as 2002. Although he designed numerous stained-glass windows all over the country, his best-known work is probably a stunning early panel entitled "The Vision of Beatrice," shown at the stained-glass exhibition at the South Kensington Museum in 1864; it is still there at what we now know as the Victoria and Albert Museum, and can be seen on the Museum's website (see below). Other acclaimed work is at Cardiff Castle. A Catholic convert like Bentley, Westlake is celebrated not only for his stained-glass windows, but also for the beautiful interior painting of such Catholic churches as St John the Baptist, Brighton, and the Church of the Sacred Heart, Hove. — Jacqueline Banerjee.
- Spring flowers: from a window of the New West End Synagogue, London
- Painted Decoration and Stained Glass at St John the Baptist Church, Brighton
Campbell, Gordon, ed. Encyclopedia of the Decorative Arts, Vol. 1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
de l'Hôpital, Winefride. Westminster Cathedral and Its Architect. 2 vols. Vol. 2, The Making of the Architect. London: Hutchinson, 1919. (Available in the Internet Archive).
"The Vision of Beatrice" (Victoria and Albert Museum site). Web. Viewed 17 October 2010.
Cheshire, Jim. Stained Glass and the Victorian Gothic Revival. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008.
Last modified 9 October 2012