Theft of Renaissance Glass

A rare panel of English Renaissance glass dating from the 1530s and depicting the prophet Ezekiel has been stolen from Withcote Chapel in Leicestershire [fig. 1].

Fig. 1. The stolen panel (15in. x 8in.): the prophet Ezekiel.

Fig. 1. The stolen panel (15in. x 8in.): the prophet Ezekiel.

According to the police, the theft occurred between 24 and 30 July. A spokesman for the Churches Conservation Trust, which cares for the chapel, told The Times newspaper: ‘The suspicion is that the thieves knew what they were doing and what they were looking for’ – prompting speculation that the panel was stolen to order.

The scheme at Withcote is one of the lesser-known treasures of pre-Reformation glazing in England, installed in an oblong chapel with four three-light windows along both the north and south sides. Before the theft, eight of the original twelve Apostles holding Creed scrolls survives, together with ten of their Old Testament counterparts [fig. 2].

The stained-glass historian Hilary Wayment (see under Further Reading) suggested that the scheme may have been a scaled-down version of the glazing designed and executed in the 1520s for the chapel of Cardinal Wolsey’s palace at Hampton Court, nearly twelve miles south-west of central London. Each figure is set under an elaborate canopy with Renaissance detailing. Comparisons have been made with the King’s College Chapel windows of 1526–31, particularly window nIII. Christopher Woodforde suggested that the Withcote windows may have been painted by Galyon Hone, one of the King’s College painters, but no documentary evidence supports this attribution, and Harrison has argued that the artist’s hand cannot be distinguished with certainty. The badge of Jane Seymour, the third wife of king Henry VIII, in the north-west window suggests that the glass dates from her reign as queen, i.e., between 30 May 1536 and 24 October 1537 [figs 3 and 4].


Fig. 2. Interior of Withcote Chapel.

Fig. 2. Interior of Withcote Chapel.

Fig. 3. The prophet Daniel.

Fig. 3. The prophet Daniel.

Fig. 4. The badge of Jane Seymour.

Fig. 4. The badge of Jane Seymour.




Withcote Chapel was built as a private chapel by William Smith (d.1506), the lord of the manor, and probably finished in the 1530s by his widow Catherine and her second husband, Roger Ratcliffe, who had been a gentleman of the bedchamber to Catherine of Aragon. It later became a parish church.

The glass is extensively illustrated in the CVMA Picture Archive.

Further Reading

C. Woodforde, ‘The painted glass in Withcote church’, Burlington Magazine, LXXV/186, 1939, pp. 17–22

A. R. Dufty, ‘Withcote Chapel’, Archaeological Journal, CXII (1955), pp. 178–81
K. Harrison, ‘The Contracting Glaziers’, in H. Wayment, The Windows of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, CVMA (GB), Supplementary Volume I, London, 1972, p. 13

H. Wayment, ‘Twenty-four vidimuses for Cardinal Wolsey’, Master Drawings, XXIII/XXIV/4, March 1988, pp. 503–17

R. Marks, Stained Glass in England during the Middle Ages, London, 1993, pp. 96, 224

Canterbury Cathedral’s Great South Window Conserved

Conservation of the Great South Window of Canterbury Cathedral has been completed, and the stained glass – some of the cathedral’s most important medieval panels, depicting the Ancestors of Christ – is being reinstalled.

The perpendicular Gothic window measures 55ft high and 24ft 9in. wide, and was originally built in 1430 using stone from Caen, France. The majority of the original stained glass was destroyed by iconoclasts in 1643–44, with just a few panels surviving in the tracery. The window was reglazed in the late seventeenth century, but the badly decayed masonry required extensive repair twice during the eighteenth century. The second occasion in 1792 saw the window completely dismantled and repaired. Following the restoration, it became home to twenty-two of the Ancestors of Christ – stained-glass panels depicting the genealogy of Christ that were originally created for and installed in the choir clerestory and Trinity Chapel. Started in about 1176 following a severe fire in 1174, and after the redesign and expansion of the cathedral to include a shrine for the recently canonized Becket, the series was completed around 1220. The Ancestors of Christ windows originally consisted of eighty-six figures, largely based on the list of names contained in the Gospel of St Luke, with additional names taken from the Gospel of St Matthew. Forty-three figures from the series – the largest known series of the genealogy of Christ in medieval art – now survive.

Fig. 2. Newly carved stones (c) Canterbury Cathedral.

Fig. 2. Newly carved stones. (c) Canterbury Cathedral

Fig. 1. Head stonemason Tony Long fitting the first stone (c) Canterbury Cathedral.

Fig. 1. Head stonemason Tony Long fitting the first stone. (c) Canterbury Cathedral

The Great South Window was repaired further during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and by the twenty-first century was a mix of materials, architectural styles and structural integrity. A stone falling from the window in June 2009 prompted intense investigation, and the cracks in the stone and its decay were put down to the combined effect of repairs undertaken in earlier centuries using ill-matched stone types, the impact of bell ringing, wartime ordnance damage, and the condition of a nearby monastic drain. After examination from interior and exterior scaffolding, which remained in place for seven years, it was agreed that the only means of securing the structure was to dismantle it and salvage and repair as much stone as possible; the cathedral’s masons have now carved 100 new stones for the lower part of the window [figs 1–2]. The intricate measurements for the stone had to be worked out in the traditional way, using squares, tape measures and pencils, as modern equipment, such as laser levels, could not be used on account of the density of the scaffolding.

One hundred and seventy-nine individual stained glass panels were removed from the window, most of which showed little or no deterioration since their last treatment in 1976. However, some showed evidence of new corrosion, and it was decided that the protective glazing system be redesigned in order to combat further corrosion. Two parallel glazing grooves were cut into the new stone to allow a ventilation gap (interspace) between the stained glass and protective panel. This allows air to flow freely and any condensation to drip down and escape through a small spout at the bottom of the glazing. In 2013–14, six of the Ancestor figures travelled to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before returning to the cathedral, where they and another eleven figures were exhibited in the chapter house.

Fig. 3. Grace Ayson fitting the first stained glass panel to be reinstalled (c) Canterbury Cathedral.

Fig. 3. Grace Ayson fitting the first stained-glass panel to be reinstalled. (c) Canterbury Cathedral

Fig. 4. Fernando Cortes Pizano fitting stained glass (c) Canterbury Cathedral.

Fig. 4. Fernando Cortes Pizano fitting stained glass. (c) Canterbury Cathedral

The stained glass is now being reinstalled [figs 3–4], and the window will be officially dedicated by the dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis, on 1 October 2016. Among those invited to the dedication will be those who contributed the £2.5 million towards the cost of rebuilding the window. Fund-raising was organised by the Canterbury Cathedral Trust – an independent charity established in 1974 to support the cathedral by raising funds from individuals, trusts and foundations, statutory bodies and corporate partners. The Canterbury Cathedral Trust is also organizing a fund-raising auction of the stone that could not be reused in the window on Saturday 24 September 2016. One hundred and forty lots of stone are to be auctioned from small pieces to large ornamental stones, and the money raised from the auction will go towards future conservation work ensuring the cathedral’s legacy. For more information see the cathedral’s website.

Further Reading

M. H. Caviness. The Early Glass of Canterbury Cathedral, circa 1175–1220, Princeton, 1977

M. H. Caviness. The Windows of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury, CVMA (GB), II, London, 1981

M. A. Michael. Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral, London, 2004

J. Weaver and M. H. Caviness, The Ancestors of Christ Windows at Canterbury Cathedral, LA, 2013 (available online from the Getty Shop)


Last Chance to Buy Stained Glass in the Netherlands before 1795

Fig. 1. Stained Glass in the Netherlands before 1795

Fig. 1. Stained Glass in the Netherlands before 1795

Through its comprehensive overview of all stained glass in public buildings in the Netherlands, the monumental fourth volume of the Dutch Corpus Vitrearum, published in two volumes in 2011, provides the first English-language history of the medium in the country. The work is lavishly illustrated in colour and draws not just on surviving material, but also on antiquarian drawings, cartoons, designs, etc. The work has been recognised with prizes in the Netherlands and glowing reviews, some of them reported in Vidimus.

Following the publishers’ decision to liquidate the remaining stock, the author, Dr Zsuzsanna van Ruyven-Zeman, has taken on the remaining books herself. Copies may now be purchased directly from the author, at the vastly reduced price of 31 euros (original price 189 euros) plus the shipping costs (18 euros for one copy via DHL). Please email your interest to the author directly.

ICON Stained Glass Group AGM and Conference 2016, Canterbury

Fig. 1. Delegates below the Great South Window of Canterbury Cathedral (c) Canterbury Cathedral.

Fig. 1. Delegates below the Great South Window of Canterbury Cathedral. (c) Canterbury Cathedral

This year’s ICON AGM, which took place 1–3 September, was kindly hosted by the stained-glass team at Canterbury Cathedral. With its newly restored south window, skilfully reconstructed after reaching a point of imminent disaster, Canterbury Cathedral was the perfect location to focus on this year’s topic: ‘Disaster! Management, Recovery, Reconstruction, Opportunities’ [fig. 1]. The venue, Cathedral Lodge, was kindly provided at no extra cost by the Dean and Chapter and was the perfect space for a series of thought-provoking talks and fruitful discussions on the subject, as well as the ICON AGM itself.

The first talk, ‘The Great South Window of Canterbury Cathedral: Opportunities for Stone and Glass’, was given by Heather Newton (Head of Stone Masonry and Conservation at Canterbury) and Léonie Seliger (Head of the Stained Glass Studio). They provided a fascinating insight into how disaster was averted after a stone fell from the fifteenth-century window, alerting staff to the worrying instability of the stonework and the resulting risk to both the precious twelfth- and thirteenth-century glass it housed and the people using the busy access point beneath it. The talk explained in detail the process of managing this potential disaster and how the restoration led instead to a series of positive opportunities. The cathedral now has a secure and beautiful structure to house its precious glass for generations to come and a stronger, more experienced conservation team. The project also raised a huge level of awareness of stained glass and stone conservation through research and various exhibitions; some panels even managed to tour in America during the rebuilding of the stonework!

The topic of opportunity arising from disaster was one that echoed throughout the conference. Gerard Burger from Glashütte Lamberts in Germany described the production challenges of creating a new ‘disaster glass’; sheets with the texture and appearance of medieval glass, requested for a new project underway at Canterbury. Merlyn Griffiths from the York Glaziers’ Trust gave a talk on ‘Further Research into the Phenomenon Often Referred to as “Crizzling”’. This informative account of the disastrous phenomenon left us musing on the opportunities for future research into managing the problem.

Fig. 2. Delegates tour the stained glass workshop (c) Sarah Mctiernan.

Fig. 2. Delegates tour the stained-glass workshop. (c) Sarah Mctiernan

On the Friday, talks continued with Alexandra Jung’s ‘Responding to Disastrous Neglect: The Revival of a Church and the Impact of Its Stained Glass’, the case of an abandoned church in Gutz, Landsberg, and the conservation of its remaining stained glass. Deciding to work with the artist Markus Lupertz raised huge public and media awareness and changed the fate of the building. Unconventionally, a hybrid of the old glass and a new contemporary style was created, a twenty-first-century reflection of the turbulent history of the church. Chris Chesney’s amusing yet informative talk ‘Define Disaster’ was based both on his experiences dealing with the effects of fire damage and how his studio worked to restore the ‘original details’ which had vanished from some early heraldry panels. With little original paint work and only silver stain remaining, a reversible method was used to recreate detail. This provoked further thought on the ethical concerns dealing with ‘disasters’ today, whether they occur suddenly or over a long period of time.

Finally, Léonie Seliger introduced us to the fire-damaged east window in the shrine of St Jude in Faversham, a window was restored after the disaster by the cathedral studio. They attempted to recreate it faithfully to the original design despite a lack of good photographic records or original drawings. Léonie added the image of a phoenix into the work, a reminder that something beautiful can spring from the ashes of a disaster.

The talks were enriched by a programme of site visits that encompassed different aspects of Canterbury’s stained-glass history, modern to ancient. Split into groups led by members of the studio team, we were given thoughtful insights and information whilst being led around the newly revealed south window (with one panel installed for our pleasure and edification), the stained-glass studio and its current projects [fig. 2], old drawings of windows in the archives, and finally a tour around the cathedral glass itself. These short tours were the perfect culmination to two days of talks, the whole experience proving very conducive for further discussions.

Fig. 3. The East Window at St. Jude, Faversham (c) Sarah Mctiernan.

Fig. 3. The East Window at St Jude, Faversham. (c) Sarah Mctiernan

The icing on the cake came on Saturday, with a coach trip taking us on a whirlwind tour of some of Kent’s hidden treasures: firstly, Aylesford Priory and its iridescent dalle de verre glass; then St Lawrence’s Church, Mereworth, with its stunning heraldry panels; All Saints, Tudely, with its beautiful complete Marc Chagall glazing scheme; and finally, and quite aptly, the shrine of St Jude in Faversham [fig. 3]. Here we saw first-hand the beautifully restored fire-damaged east window described by Léonie the day before. The fire had allowed the monks at Faversham to rejuvenate the shrine, turning disaster into something positive. Seeing the phoenix added by Léonie, rising up at the bottom right-hand side of the window, was a perfect way to end the conference. It left us to ponder the thought that from disaster, through careful management in recovery and reconstruction, a range of positive opportunities can arise from the ashes.

A splendid three days, enjoyed by all. A debt of gratitude is owed to Canterbury for such a well-organised event!

Review by Sarah McTiernan, MA student in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management

Gilded Light Exhibition by Sam Fogg

July is traditionally the high-point of the London art world’s year, with high-price auctions and spectacular art fairs. This year, there was an added bonus for stained-glass enthusiasts when London-based dealer Sam Fogg mounted an important selling exhibition of thirty-seven sixteenth-century Netherlandish roundels, many with superb provenances [figs 1 and 2].

Fig. 1. St Bavo of Ghent and a kneeling donor, c.1525–35.

Fig. 1. St Bavo of Ghent and a kneeling donor, c.1525–35.

Fig. 2. Nebuchadnezzar eating grass among the cows, after a design by Lambert van Noort (c.1520–71), c.1560.

Fig. 2. Nebuchadnezzar eating grass among the cows, after a design by Lambert van Noort (c.1520–71), c.1560.

Fourteen of the roundels came from the former home of Sir Thomas Neave (1761–1848) at Dagnam Park, Romford, which was demolished in the 1950s. They include works attributed to some of the leading painters/designers of the period: Jan Swart van Groningen, Dirck and Wouter Crabeth, and Lambert van Noort. Much of the glass seems to have been acquired by Sir Thomas on the international art market after the dissolution of around 700 convents and monasteries in the southern Low Countries by the Austrian Emperor Joseph II (1741–1790). Other roundels in the exhibition came from private collections in the UK and France.



Highlights of the exhibition can be seen here. A catalogue to the exhibition was written by Matthew Reeves, C. J. Berserik and J. A. M. Caen.

Stained Glass Museum Autumn Lectures

Tickets are still available for the Stained Glass Museum’s autumn lectures, which focus on neglected aspects of twentieth-century stained glass in Britain. There will be opportunities to hear about the successful Arts & Crafts artist Theodora Salusbury (who is not as well known as her peers), the important role that the Lowndes & Drury studio (often known as the Glass House) had in the production and development of stained glass immediately after the Second World War, and the stained-glass artist and painter Keith New, whose work at Coventry Cathedral should have launched a successful career, but whose significance is only now beginning to be appreciated.

All the museum’s autumn lectures take place on Thursdays at 7pm, at the Ely Cathedral Education & Conference Centre, Palace Green, Ely, CB7 4EW. Tickets cost £7.50 each (£6.50 for Friends), or £20 for all three lectures (£18 for Friends). Bookings can be made online, or by telephoning the museum shop (01353 660347).

Andrew Loutit: ‘Proud as a Peacock: The Work of Theodora Salusbury 1875–1956’

Thursday, 29 September 2016, 7pm for 7.15pm start. Theodora Salusbury was born in Leicestershire and followed several courses of art training in the early twentieth century, including ones at the Slade School of Art and the Royal College of Art; she also served a four-year apprenticeship with Christopher W. Whall. Most of her known work dates from between the two World Wars, and was produced at studios in Kensington (London) and Cornwall. She was among those artists who used the facilities of Lowndes & Drury at the Glass House (Fulham), and her work is often identifiable by the use of a peacock as her maker’s mark. Andrew Loutit is Salusbury’s great nephew. He has travelled far and wide through England and Wales following up information from stained-glass experts and friends in order to find his great aunt’s windows.

Alan Brooks: ‘Lowndes & Drury and Post-War Stained Glass’

Thursday, 6 October 2016, 7pm for 7.15pm start. Founded in 1897, the London firm of Lowndes & Drury played a vital role in twentieth-century stained glass in Britain. From the surviving archives, at least 150 artists had their work made at its premises. The studio is well known for its contribution to the Arts & Crafts movement, but this lecture, after describing the early history of the firm, will focus on the English work that emerged from the studio in the post-war period. Alan Brooks has carried out considerable research into nineteeth- and twentieth-century stained glass. In 2012, he published The Stained Glass of Francis Spear, the first study of Spear’s work. Since then, he has been researching the many artists and craftsmen who worked at the Lowndes & Drury studio in Fulham.

Stevens Architectural Glass Artist of the Year 2017 Competition: Brief Now Launched

The brief for the Stevens Architectural Glass Artist of the Year 2017 has now been released: the design and creation of three back-lit windows in the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall, London. Full details are available on the Glaziers’ Company website.

The competition is open to all those at an early stage in their careers. This is reflected by the stipulation that all entrants must have started their vocation in glass practice within the last eight years. Entrants must fall within one of the following categories:

•    students training in glass at university, art school or college; on a further education course; or on one of the Glaziers’ Company awards
•    assistants/employees of independent glass artists or commercial glass firms
•    glass artists who are self-employed
•    artists from abroad (following competition rules)

The following are not eligible:

•    those who have studied and practised glass, from the start of their training, for more than eight years
•    fellows and associates of the British Society of Master Glass-Painters.

Competition entrants are required to design a series of three back-lit windows for the RAC for installation in its gentlemen’s toilets, drawing inspiration from the Club’s iconic place in the history of motoring; and in keeping with the design and decoration of the Pall Mall Clubhouse, which, while moving with the times, has always embraced its heritage. In designing for a lavatory, Competition entrants will be referencing a notable tradition of palatial splendour in the decoration of these temples of improved sanitation, comfort and public health.

The Royal Automobile Club was formed by Frederick Simms in 1897. Originally called the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, the club was awarded a royal warrant by King Edward VII in 1907, thus changing the name to the Royal Automobile Club. The club is the oldest motoring organization in the United Kingdom and the second oldest in the world after the Automobile Club de France. Today, the Royal Automobile Club has a wide range of activities and events for a diverse and inclusive range of international members, fitting for an institution known as ‘the UK spiritual home of motoring’. The Stevens Competition entries will be judged by a distinguished panel of glass artists and designers, and the Royal Automobile Club has confirmed that funds are available to realise the winning design. The final decision about which of the entrants, if any, will receive the design commission rests entirely with the Royal Automobile Club.

The closing date for receipt of entries is Thursday 30 March 2017 at 5.00pm. The winners will be announced at a prize-giving ceremony at Glaziers Hall, London, for the Stevens Competition and other awards, on Thursday 25 May 2017.