Venus Rising from the Sea, c.1900-03. Enamel on copper; 25 x 11¼ in. (64.5 x 28.5 cm). Private collection.

This is possibly the enamel entitled Aphrodite that Holiday showed at the Seventh Exhibition of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1903, no. 461b. In 1899 Holiday had visited Berlin where he was impressed with the enamel-work of Professor Schirm. As Holiday recalled in his Reminiscences, “It suggested to me a new development of enamel, which would make it available for a larger scale of work. The coloured glass had hitherto always been melted onto flat metal, silver or copper, and as large flat glazed surfaces are never satisfactory, the art had been rightly confined to quite small work. My idea was to treat the metal in relief, repoussé, and then apply the coloured glass; and this way it would have great play of varied tone, and, not being flat, could be used freely for larger designs” (436-37).

His niece Mary Holiday, who made all the glass and fired the enamels, and his assistant Miss Lilian Wayne, who helped on the artistic side, assisted him in his enamel endeavours. Holiday went on to recall: “The very first experiments were highly promising, and revealed great possibilities. I got commissions for a large altar-piece in three divisions, for Edinburgh, a panel for the chapel of a school, and a panel for Miss Wayne’s father: ‘Venus rising from the Sea.’ I received letters with the warmest encomiums on them all, and the artistic journals acclaimed the new development, all publishing copies, some in color; but the work has proved too costly for general use” ((437). The enamel of The Crucifixion was for Holy Trinity Church in Edinburgh and the triptych reredos of Christ in the House of His Parents was for Aysgarth School Chapel in Newton-le-Willows, North Yorkshire, which was installed in 1901.

The Studio was one of the journals to praise Holiday’s work in enamels:

Stained-glass designing is, however, only one of Mr. Holiday’s decorative activities. He is a prolific worker in many forms of artistic accomplishment which can be applied to the purposes of decoration, and he has done much that is admirable in enamels, mosaic, and in a technical process known as “Opus Sectile’ - to quote some of the methods of expression he has employed. One of his most interesting inventions – a device by which he was able to apply enamel to mural decorations on a large scale and in relief…He has used this invention extensively, in church decoration especially, and there can be no doubt of its value as a means of securing artistic effects. It offers special opportunities, both to the modeller and the worker in color, and it gives the artist who chooses it as his medium full scope for the exercise of his highest skill; and he has the comforting assurance that the permanence of the materials at his disposal takes away all cause for anxiety lest his work should suffer from any of those vicissitudes to which most forms of wall decoration are inevitably exposed” (112).

Venus Rising from the Sea was produced in two versions – one made for the father of his assistant Lilian Wayne and one that Holiday made for himself.


Holiday, Henry. Reminiscences of My Life. London: Heinemann, 1914.

“The Decorative Work of Mr. Henry Holiday.” The Studio Magazine XLVI (1909): 106-15.

Murray, H. “Enamelling in Relief: Mr. Henry Holiday's Interesting Invention.” The Studio Magazine XXXIV (May 1905): 304-09.