The Revival of Secular Stained Glass in Nineteenth-century France
For the second in its series of poster presentations from the 2014 International Colloquium of the Corpus Vitrearum, Amélie Duntze-Ouvry looks at the revival of stained glass in France in the nineteenth century through the work of Parisian glass-painter Eugène Stanislas Oudinot de la Faverie (1827–1889). She is currently pursuing doctoral studies in art history, supervised by Prof. Jean-François Luneau and Prof. Jean-Paul Bouillon, at Blaise Pascal University, Clermont-Ferrand (France).
Secular stained glass, which had been so popular during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, gradually began to regain popularity from 1851, when the World Fair was held in London. Yet no significant changes in customers’ purchasing habits are observable before the 1878 World Fair, at which 31 out of 52 glass-painters exhibited stained glass for various kinds of dwelling. The year may be considered a turning point in the burgeoning trend for stained glass in private houses.
One of the 31 glass-painters was Eugène Amédée Stanislas Oudinot de la Faverie (6 April 1827 – 22 November 1889), active in Paris from 1853 until his death [Fig. 1]. His window Les grands céramistes (‘Famous Ceramicists of History’), originally commissioned by the music publisher Léon Gruss, was awarded the gold medal available in any category. The jury wrote: ‘This window has been designed according to the best principles that should govern any such transparent decorative system, one of whose aims is to not absorb light significantly more than simple frosted glazing would do. The fine compositional arrangement, the excellent choice of the light tones employed, and the perfection of the execution attracted the jury’s particular attention, such that it awarded the gold medal to this work of exceptional appearance exhibited by Mr Oudinot. Despite a slight fault in the balance of its distribution, the silver stain is employed to singularly felicitous effect in this stained glass. The bluish tone of the sky, which is in perfect harmony with the golden white of the faces, is enough to give the background weight and the composition depth and space. The slightly common pose of the Egyptian ceramicist and the purplish-brown tone introduced in the ornamentation that forms the base of the window are quite serious faults, but not enough to deny this beautiful glass-painting the exceptional value recognized by the jury.’ In the same year, Oudinot also exhibited ‘small Persian- and Japanese-style panels’ bearing depictions of ‘fish, marine plants and flowers’ in pale enamels. Following the Fair, Oudinot was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, one of several distinctions that marked him out as one of the best glass artists of his time.
Oudinot had learned his art from Georges Bontemps at the Manufacture de Choisy-le-Roi and in the studio of Eugène Delacroix. Earlier in his career, he was especially known for his facsimiles of medieval and Renaissance stained glass. He was created official glass-painter of the city of Paris in 1862, and in this capacity was responsible for glazing of many Parisian churches (including Saint-Bernard-la-Chapelle, Sainte-Trinité, Saint-Joseph-des-Nations) and civil monuments (including the city hall and the Tour Saint-Jacques). Oudinot had participated in various world fairs from 1851 onwards (including 1855, 1862, 1867, 1878 and 1889), gaining a mention in 1855 and a medal in 1862. He was appointed official reporter of the Universal Exhibition of 1889, but was replaced by Charles Champigneulle, because he died before the end of the exhibition.
1878 constituted a turning point in Oudinot’s career. It was in this year that he completely changed the style of his advertising: no longer were medieval- or Renaissance-style glass or restorations on offer. Most of the orders received by the workshop can be dated to this and the following eleven years. Overall it has been possible to identify 144 secular stained-glass windows in the Oudinot archives between 1878 and 1889, 10 of which are still extant in museums or private ownership. The majority of these orders came from wealthy individuals. Among his American clients were William Kissam Vanderbilt, Henry Gurdon Marquand, James Gordon Bennett Junior, and Adelaïde Mott Bell (wife of Isaac Bell). French clients included the Chandon de Briailles family; Louis Philippe Albert d’Orléans (pretender to the French throne); writers and political figures (Guy de Maupassant, Antonin Proust, Alexis de Tocqueville); architects (Jean-Baptiste Lassus, Hector Lefuel); politicians (Adolphe Thiers, Casimir-Périer Louis Vitet); bankers, traders and scientists (Aristide Boucicaut, Abraham-Behor de Camondo); and aristocrats (Count Félix Nicolas Potocki, the Marquis of Gallays, the Duchess of Chevreuse, Countess de Limay, Count Branicki, Madame de Loynes, etc.).
Oudinot developed various innovative techniques during his lifetime. He used a particular pale-blue enamel, the secret of whose manufacture was known only to him. The enamel was employed for windows in the château at Eu (Seine-Maritime, France), executed to designs by the architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc [Figs 2 and 3]. The patent, which was filed in 1879, is even mentioned on the window itself. In 1881, Oudinot used this pale-blue enamel again for a large window at Château Boulart in Biarritz (Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France) [Figs 4 and 5]. Oudinot was the first Frenchman to import American glass into France (in 1882), and the first glass-painter to use this glass (in 1883) for a private client – Raoul Chandon de Briailles, one of the owners of the Moët & Chandon champagne house.
Oudinot was furthermore famous for his application of a particular golden enamel that produced spectacular effects during the day and at night-time. This innovation was exhibited at the World Fair in Paris in 1878 and patented twice, in 1879 and 1880; a patent was also filed in the United States of America in October 1882.. The process consisted of drawing all trace-lines and hatchings for the shading in the gold enamel; during the day these lines appear black, but in the evening, when the glass window is illuminated from the inside, the lines and hatchings etch out the designs in gold. This kind of window did not come cheap: 350 francs per square metre for the most complex drawings and 250 francs per square metre for the simplest. The stained glass made for Henry Gurdon Marquand in 1884 has an area of three square metres [Figs 6 and 7]. As the design is quite complex, and assuming a price per square metre of 300 francs, we can estimate the cost of this window at 1,050 francs. Marquand did not just order one window from Oudinot, but five, at an approximate total cost of 5,250 francs, a hefty price for the time.
Oudinot collaborated with famous designers, including Richard Morris Hunt (the American architect) and Luc-Olivier Merson, for both of whose preparatory work (sketches, cartoons) he paid. Hunt was the author of five stained glass window for the New York residence of Henry Gurdon Marquand [Fig. 6], and affixes his signature alongside that of the glass-painter Oudinot. Because of the striking resemblance between this glass and that in Château Boulart, we can hypothesize that the latter was also made to a design by Hunt. Merson was the author of many designs for Oudinot. In 1882, he drew ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ and ‘Michelangelo’ for Marquand’s house, and in 1884 Merson illustrated the nursery rhyme ‘Tour prends garde’ for Maupassant’s house in Etretat (Seine-Maritime, France); Oudinot also executed a window illustrating this song for the office of Raoul Chandon de Briailles, as well as another depicting the nursery rhyme ‘Sur le pont d’Avignon’. In 1885, Merson was again designing for Oudinot, this time ‘La danse des fiançailles’ (‘Engagement Dance’) for the new apartment of Adelaïde Bell in New York [Fig. 7]. Beyond these collaborations, the implementation of Oudinot’s own patented research contributed to the uniqueness of the final works.
Oudinot’s achievements and the growing popularity of the medium led to his being interviewed for the ‘Enquête sur la situation des ouvriers et des industries d’art’ (‘Enquiry into the situation of workers and the artistic industries’) in 1881. He spoke of his conception of secular stained glass as follows: ‘I allow myself to think that there is a new path in field of secular stained glass, on the express condition that we make art and not business.’
1. ‘Division des vitraux’, in Catalogue officiel : Exposition Universelle Internationale de 1878 à Paris, vol. II, Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1878, pp. 157–60. Édouard Didron, ‘Section II. Vitraux’, in Exposition Universelle Internationale de 1878 à Paris : Groupe III, classe 19. Rapport sur les cristaux, la verrerie et les vitraux, Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1880, p. 53.
2. Édouard Didron, Les vitraux à l’Exposition Universelle de 1867, Paris, Librairie Archéologique de Didron, 1868, p. 69. Unfortunately, it was not possible to locate this window.
3. Ibid., p. 75.
4. Archives of the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle, brevet n°131 173, 12 June 1879.
5. This work is not extant, and no drawing or photograph has been found.
6. Archives of the Institut National de la Propriété Industrielle, brevet n°128 576, 21 January 1879 ; brevet n°137 709, 8 July 1880. United States Patent Office, file n°266 507, 24 October 1882.
7. Louis-Charles Boileau, ‘Villa à Fontenay-aux-Roses’, La construction moderne, 7 février 1891, p. 290.
8. Of the five windows executed by Oudinot, the whereabouts of only two are known: The Museum of the City of New York maintains one, and a second was auctioned in August 2013 by the auction house S & S Auction, Inc., for $3,500. To date, no traces of the remaining three windows has been found.
9. In 1889, a second window depicting Leonardo da Vinci was executed. It is now in the Adrien Dubouché Museum in Limoges (France). The two windows representing the nursery rhymes are now known from their designs. They must have been executed between 1883 and 1889.
10. Antonin Proust, ‘Déposition de M. Oudinot Peinture sur verre’, Commission d’enquête de la situation des ouvriers et des industries d’art. Instituée par décret en date du 24 décembre 1881, Paris, Impr. A. Quantin, 1884.