The Twentieth Century Society

Review: Arts and Crafts Stained Glass

Peter Cormack (Yale, 354pp, £50)

Reviewed by Rosemary Clarke

This survey of Arts & Crafts stained glass in Britain, Ireland and the USA starts with the 1880s. The movement’s artists regarded drawing and painting as inseparable from the technical manipulation of glass. Innovative glass painting techniques, new styles of leading and new types of glass used are shown in the 200 colour illustrations, most showing details of windows.

Peter Cormack was Curator at the William Morris Gallery for many years, and this book is based on three decades of research, including studies of the archives of stained glass studios and interviews with the descendants of many of the artists discussed which throw light on their working practices and the issues they faced. There are extensive notes.

The last chapter is entitled ‘Between the World Wars and beyond’. Stained glass featured strongly in the eleventh Arts & Crafts exhibition held at the Royal Academy in 1916, and it was a popular medium after 1918 for the commemoration of those who had died or served in the First World War. Christopher Whall was a pioneer and had a great influence on later stained glass artists. Women artists played an important role, in particular Wilhelmina Geddes. The chapter ends with a study of Douglas Strachan, the foremost representative of his art in the English speaking world in the inter-war years, who is noted for the expressive content of his work.