The Glass Workers' Window in St Chad's, Birmingham. Left: Whole window. Right: Close-up of the glass workers in the lower panels.
Window with two panels depicting glassworkers in St Chad's Cathedral (RC) in Birmingham. Augustus Welby Pugin and John Hardman. 1853. The window, for which Pugin had made a preliminary sketch, was donated by Hardman's craftsmen. It was not completed until almost two years after his breakdown, and more than a year after his death, and differs in some respects from what Pugin had intended. John Hardman Powell may have been responsible for the final design. [Click on these and the following images to enlarge them.]
Left: Closer view of St Luke and St Gregory of Crete in the panels above. Middle and right: Details of the glass workers on the left side of the lower panels.
The saints featured here are St Luke and St Andrew of Crete (Pugin had originally thought of St Gregory, sometimes seen as the patron saint of masons). Both these saints have been considered patron saints of artists (Doolan 3) — St Luke, through his association with Venice, specifically of glassmakers. In the close-ups of the lower left-hand panel, a stained glass artist is shown cartooning the design, while beside him another of the artisans is shown transferring a part of the design on to red glass.
It is wonderful to get a glimpse into the famous Hardman workshop, provided by the very men who worked there, and probably based on real employees of that time: Michael Fisher finds here "a clear attempt at portraiture." Fisher also tells us that the words running under these panels are an invocation to the saints shown above: "Ye holy painters which be now in Christ's presence, through thy prayers help us poor painters him to reach" (58). THis gives the window a special kind of unity and meaning.
Photographs by Colin Price. The image of the glassworkers also appears in a discussion of the Glassworkers' Window in an essay on Pugin and his stained glass craftsmen. In addition, it is Figure 8 in Chapter Nine of Lionel Gossman's A Stained Glass Masterpiece in Victorian Glasgow: Stephen Adam’s Celebration of Industrial Labor. — Jacqueline Banerjee and George P. Landow. These images are used on our website by kind permission of the Dean & Chapter of St Chad's.
- Review of Michael Fisher's Guarding the Pugin Flame: John Hardman Powell, 1827-1895
- Pugin and his stained glass craftsmen
Doolan, Father Brian. The Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad Birmingham. 5th revised ed. Birmingham: St Chad's Publications, 2006. Available at the cathedral.
Fisher, Michael. Guarding the Pugin Flame: John Hardman Powell, 1827-1895. Downtown, Salisbury: Spire Books, 2017.
Last modified 20 November 2017