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Polska Akademia Umieje̜tności <Krakau> / Komisja Historii Sztuki [Editor]; Polska Akademia Nauk <Warschau> / Oddział <Krakau> / Komisja Teorii i Historii Sztuki [Editor]
Folia Historiae Artium — NS: 17.2019

DOI article:
Raguin, Virginia Chieffo: Old imagery for a new century
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Folia Historiae Artium
Seria Nowa, t. 17: 2019/PL ISSN 0071-6723

College of the Holy Cross
Corpus Vitrearum USA


Nineteenth-century stained glass painters were a part of
their times, times that saw a modern world capable of re-
claiming the value of the past, but surpassing it through
modern technology These glass painters admired medi-
eval art for its decorative brilliance, but for the image itself,
the art of Europe from the fifteenth through seventeenth
centuries provided the most appropriate themes and fig-
ural models. Their reliance on the art of this era reflected
the bias already evident in their patrons. The foundation
of the great nineteenth-century public collections was the
art of the Renaissance from the Lowlands, Germany, and
Italy. Ludwig of Bavaria purchased the Boisserée broth-
ers’ collection of German and Lowlands paintings in 1826
as the core of what is now the Alte Pinakotek in Munich.
Before the photographic reproduction of works of art,
the means of disseminating these models profoundly in-
fluenced their reception. The glass painters and their pa-
trons may have seen works such as Rogier van der Wey-
dens Three Kings (or St. Columba) Altarpiece in Munich,
but accessible images to jog the memory were prints
made after these subjects [Fig. 1]. Engravings and litho-
graphs, such as the series of prints that reproduced the
Boisserée brothers’ collection and which was published in
1822, were often the only visual references for a patron.1
The purpose of such printing was didactic, even edifying,
helping to transfer the cherished values of the past into
the present. The Düsseldorf Society for the diffusion of
good religious pictures’ was typical in its systematic re-
production of a wide variety of prints based on paintings.2
St. Chad’s Church in Shrewsbury, England typifies
the process of renewal and adaptation. St. Chad’s origins
date to the thirteenth century but after the collapse of

1 Boisserée Sammlung: exh. cat., Clemen-Sels-Museum, Neuss,
1980. Die Alt-, Nieder- und Ober-Deutscher Gemälde der Brüder
Sulpiz und Melchior Boisserée und Johann Bertram lithographiert
von Johann Nepomuk Strixner, Stuttgart, 1821.
2 Düsseldorf Society for the Propagation of Good Religious Pictures,
London, 1873.

its tower in 1788, the church was rebuilt in the Georgian
style. A white interior, ceiling and cornice moldings with
naturalistic foliage, and Corinthian columns terminat-
ing in capitals painted in gold, were in fashion in this era
that remained deeply attached to the classicism of Chris-
topher Wren (1632-1723). Originally glazed with simple
clear quarry glass, the church received several leaded and
painted windows executed in the 1840s by David Evans,
a local glass painter. A three-part window over the altar
[Fig. 2] reproduces Rubens’ great triptych in the cathedral
of Antwerp showing the Descent from the Cross flanked by
the Visitation and Presentation. Innumerable book illus-
trations and inexpensive chromolithography testify to the
popularity of the triptych [Fig. 3]. Rubens’ painting was
also used as the model for a window of the Descent from
the Cross from the series installed by the Munich studio
of Franz Mayer in 1901 for the Cathedral of the Immacu-
late Conception in Portland, Maine [Fig. 4]. Mayer was
responsible for the entire program.
Nineteenth-century artists inspired by the Renaissance
and Baroque could also become universally recognized
across denominations and media. In the United States,
from about 1850 to 1897, Henry E. Sharp was the studio
of choice for architects such as the eminent Richard Up-
john.3 Many of his commissions incorporated images of
the Apostles based on the work of Friedrich Overbeck,
spokesperson for the Nazarene movement of Catholic art
in Bavaria. Created between 1842 and 1853 for a fresco cy-
cle for the chapel of the Villa Torlonia in Castel Gandolfo,
Overbeck’s Apostles were reproduced in prints by Franz
Keller. The images were widely distributed, particularly
through the Dusseldorf Union for the Promotion of Good
Religious Pictures.4 Sharp used the models in a number of

3 Sharp advertised in the New York City Directory in 1851 under the
name Sharp and Steele, later as H.E. Sharp & Son, and H.E. Sharp,
Son, & Colgate.
4 See Religiöse Graphik aus der Zeit des Kölner Dombaus 1842-
1880, exh. cat., Cologne, Diözesanmuseum, ed. by W. Schulten,

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