Crane’s own account of his stained glass

MY first designs for stained glass, I think, were some small panels for a library window in an American house, at Newport, RI. These were executed by Messrs. William Morris and Company, at Merton. The same firm also carried out two designs I made for the doors of the Picture Gallery at Clare Lawn — single figures, typical of the two sides of Art — Speculum Naturae and Spherae Imaginationis. A larger work was a three-light window, designed for a Church at Newark, New Jersey, and carried out by Messrs. J. and R. Lamb, of New York. The subject was “St. Paul preaching at Athens,” and the figures were on a large scale—about ten or twelve feet high.

The Translation of Enoch and Elijah. Church of the Ark of the Covenant, Stamford Hill.

The next work in glass was a complete set of windows for “The Ark of the Covenant” — the Church of the Agapemone — at Stamford Hill. It was a new church, designed and erected by Messrs. Joseph Morris and Son, of Reading. My designs for the apse window, or rather the three two-light windows forming the apse, contained in the centre the symbols — the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Dove. In the window to the left, the subject was the Translation of Enoch; and in that to the right, the Translation of Elijah.. . .

The two-light aisle windows were filled with floral designs, such as the rose, the lily, the vine, the fig, the olive, the iris, and were lighter in tone than those at the east and west ends. The large four-light west window had a design of the rising Sun of Righteousness. The figure of a man was on one side, and of a woman upon the other, adoring; four angels above carried a scroll with the text, “Then shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” Smaller (two-light) windows at the ends of the aisles contained figures on the one hand of “Sin and Shame,” and on the other of “Death and Disease,” which are supposed to be driven away with the shadows of the evil night at the rising of the Sun of Righteousness.

The glass for these windows was executed by a new artist, Mr. J. Sylvester Sparrow, who shows remarkable feeling for depth and richness of colour, and has made effective use of Messrs. Britton and Gilson’s glass, invented by Mr. Prior, with the “antique” glass of Messrs. Powell.

Another large work in glass design now on the point of completion is a five-light perpendicular window with tracery, in which Mr. Sparrow, as the glass painter, again co-operates with me as the designer and cartoonist. . . . [see at right] which may give some slight idea of the general style and treatment of the design, though not of the glass itself; for glass is one of those things which must be actually seen in situ to be properly judged.

The lead line is so important an element in glass design that I feel no cartoon can be considered really complete without the leads being put in. In fact, I think the design in lead line alone ought to be fairly complete and agreeable as an arrangement of line even without the colour, and as such it may in plain glass have a separate life, although, of course, the leads and the glass are really mutually dependent; and in a fully-coloured window one hardly thinks of the one without the other. As to treatment, of course much depends upon general conditions, but I think it may be quite possible in designing to go far in a pictorial direction, so long as the result is in harmony with the architecture, and appeals primarily to the eye as a pattern of lead line and colour—a network of jewelled light. [18, 20]

Stained-glass designs

Work in other media


Crane, Walter. The Work of Walter Crane with Notes by the Artist. The Easter Art Annual for 1898: Extra Number of the “Art Journal”. London: J. S. Virtue, 1898. Internet Archive version of a copy in the Getty Art Institute. Web. 3 January 2018.

Day, Lewis F. “The Windows of a New Church.” The Art Journal. N. S. London: J. S. Virtue, 1893. Internet Archive. Web. 12 February 2012.

Last modified 6 November 2013