41 x 16 7/8 in
Amongst the treasures of this collection are three drawings for windows in the Tate Library of Harris Manchester, by Heaton Butler & Bayne. At the time, the firm was the leading stained glass window manufacturer of Pre-Raphaelite School works. The drawings embody not only the peak of the firm’s achievement, but also what was fundamental to contemporary art and culture as a whole. Images of Science, Philosophy, and Truth, the windows reflect the activities that still go on today in the library, but also the ground-breaking endeavours of the artists behind their production. Approaching artistic study of the natural world with detail, the Pre-Raphaelites captured contemporary excitement surrounding scientific progress, to become the first truly Modern artists. Rejecting the idealism of their classical forebears, the PRB sought instead to reject nothing and accept everything in the devotional spirit of ‘Truth to nature’. Stained glass was arguably, the perfect medium for conveying these principles. The religious reverence conveyed by the luminous detail of Pre-Raphaelite oil painting by painting the background white, could be achieved with symbolic and aesthetic power by using real light. William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones were at the forefront of the medium’s revival.
With commissions streaming in from all over the empire, this collection is proof of the extent to which these English companies spread the medieval style across the world, from Continental Europe, Australia, Africa, and the Americas.