- Restoring the Roundels at Ickworth
- Corpus Vitrearum Volume Awarded Top Prize
- ‘Charity’ Window Recreated
- New Light on Medieval Stained Glass Reminder
- Society of Glass Technology Conference
Restoring the Roundels at Ickworth
Geoffrey Lane reports.
Work is under way to restore St Mary’s Church at Ickworth, Suffolk, including its fine collection of Netherlandish roundels. The church stands in the grounds of Ickworth Hall, ancestral home of the Hervey family, but unlike the Hall itself, St Mary’s is not in the care of the National Trust. The Church Commissioners sold the church to the family in 1986, after which it suffered neglect and vandalism, and was closed and boarded up for many years, to the dismay of visitors and locals alike. A turning point came in 2006 with the founding of the Ickworth Church Conservation Trust, created and now chaired by Frederick, 8th Marquess of Bristol, the present head of the family. The Trust has attracted generous grants from both English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the church is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment. It is expected to re-open later this year.
Among the church’s treasures were eighteen roundels, numbered 967–984 in William Cole’s Catalogue of Netherlandish and North European Roundels in Britain (CVMA (GB), Summary Catalogue 1, Oxford, 1993, pp. 118–21). Sadly not all of these survive, but those that do are currently being restored by Terry Devlin, of the Norfolk-based firm Devlin Plummer Stained Glass. We are grateful to Mr Devlin for his photographs, which show the varied conditions of the three windows in which the roundels were displayed.
The nine panels in window nIV [Fig. 1, Cole 970–978] have remained largely intact, apart from a hole in the on the lower left side of the roundel in 3c, Judith with the Head of Holofernes [Fig. 2, Cole 978].
The condition of window sII [Fig. 3, formerly Cole 979–984] was far worse, and only one roundel, a mid-16th century allegorical depiction of the Triumph of the World, survives intact (Cole 983). The casualties here include a remarkable oval panel of The Trojan Horse (Cole 981), attributed by Dutch glass historian Kees Berserik to the Crabeth workshop, its elongated figures pointing to Wouter Crabeth rather than his better-known brother Dirck. Only a small portion of the roundel remains, showing the backside of the horse, but it is hoped that a colour photograph taken by the late Karel Boon will enable Terry Devlin to give it some sort of context [Fig. 4].
Vandalism seems to be the main culprit, but theft cannot be ruled out, as in the case of the lower right panel in the same window, where both glass and frame have completely vanished. The missing roundel showed Susanna being led to Judgment (Cole 980), which dated to c.1525 and was in the style of the Pseudo-Ortkens. We can at least get a clear impression of it, both from William Cole’s own snapshot [Fig. 5] and from a very similar roundel at the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The single-light window nII [Fig. 6, Cole 967–69] fared a little better, retaining two of its three panels on the life of Christ – a Baptism probably of German origin (Cole 968), and Christ on the Cold Stone (Cole 969), which includes a Dominican donor figure. But the third, Christ Shown Forth (Fig. 7, Cole 967), has also disappeared without trace, and like the lost Susanna, could one day re-appear on the antiques market.
Vidimus hopes to return to Ickworth later in the year with a report on the reopening of St Mary’s to the public.
Corpus Vitrearum Volume Awarded Top Prize
The fourth volume in the Dutch Corpus Vitrearum series, Zsuzsanna van Ruyven-Zeman’s monumental Stained Glass in the Netherlands before 1795 (Amsterdam, 2011), has been awarded the Mr. J.W. Frederiksprijs for 2012, for the best publication on the applied arts in the period 2009–2011. The prize was shared jointly with Edith Frederiks’s Goud, zilver en zijde. Katholiek textiel in Nederland 1830-1965 (‘Gold, Silver and Silk: Catholic Textiles in the Netherlands 1830–1965’, Zutphen, 2010).
The prize was awarded on 19 November 2012 at the annual meeting of the Union of Dutch Art Historians (VNK, Vereniging van Nederlandse Kunsthistorici), when the work was praised for the breadth of its geographical remit and depth of its historical coverage. A whole range of issues is addressed in the book, including donors, donation contexts, iconography, cartoons, images of lost glazing, and excavated glass.
Publication of this work was drawn to the attention of Vidimus readers in the summer of 2011 (issue 53), and a recent review in the journal Simiolus was exceptionally warm: ‘This book is a more than worthy crown on the Dutch research into stained-glass windows that has been carried out in the past decades. It would merit the description ‘definitive’ for its exceptionally complete and illuminating account of the current state of our knowledge, were it not for the fact that it highlights so many new avenues for further research that a fresh generation of scholars will still have enough to keep them busy for years to come.’
The work is available via the Amsterdam University Press website.
For more details of the book, see our review page in this issue.
‘Charity’ Window Recreated
Barley Studio has recreated a window destroyed during the Second World War for Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. The 1830 window, by William Collins of the Strand, was in turn based on the figure of Charity in the west window of the chapel of New College, Oxford. This New College glass, installed 1778–85, was designed by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723–1792) and painted by Thomas Jervais (d.1799) [Fig. 1]. The replica of Collins window has been created and installed as part of the multi-million pound ‘Opening Up The Soane’ project to restore, refurbish and improve the museum.
All that survives of the Collins window in Sir John Soane’s Museum, following a landmine explosion in October 1940, are two sections of the classical pedestal, along with some of the metal framework used to hold the glazing, inventory sketches, and watercolour and partial photographic images of the window [Fig. 2]. A photograph of Reynolds’s cartoon for New College (held in a private collection) was suitably enlarged to act as a guide for the cartoon, executed by glass-painter Jonathan Cooke. The metal framework for the glazing was recreated, based on the surviving original portion discovered in the museum store during the project, using U-section lead with a tinned brass strip soldered into the lead groove.
Barley Studio entrusted Jonathan Cooke with the task of replicating Collins’s painting style, applying glass paint, enamels and stain onto large pieces of thin float glass. The central part of the classical pedestal, also held in the museum store, was conserved by Alison Gilchrist (under the direction of Keith Barley) and reinstalled along with the newly painted glass. Each individual piece of exquisitely painted, extremely thin, glass was then carefully dry glazed and bevel puttied into the metal framework by Studio Director Keith Barley – a skilful, not to say stressful, task!
This project will be described in detail in our February feature.
New Light on Medieval Stained Glass Reminder
Vidimus readers are invited to the inaugural lecture by Professor Ian Freestone at University College London on 12 March 2013.
Together with colleagues based in York and Cardiff, Professor Freestone has recently completed a major programme of scientific analysis of medieval stained glass. The project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, brought together archaeological scientists, art historians and conservators in an attempt to ensure that the contexts of the glass analysed were fully understood. The result is a body of information that is significantly more comprehensive than has previously been possible. It is yielding new insights into glazing practices, the sources of raw materials, and the technologies of glass production and colouration. This important lecture will be held on Tuesday 12 March 2013 at 6.30p.m., in the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building, University College London.
Admission is free but places must be booked via the UCL website.
Society of Glass Technology Conference
The annual conference of the Society of Glass Technology will be held at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, 11–13 September.
As usual, the conference will include sessions on the art and history of stained glass. A call for papers has been issued and final details of the conference programme will be published later this year.
For more information, visit the Society’s website.