Glass - Back to the Future!

Presenting Author:
Martin Crampin
<[email protected]>

article posted 22 March 2016

Martin Crampin is an artist, designer and historian who has worked on a series of research projects concerning aspects of visual culture in Wales at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies since 1999. He has specialised in the study of ecclesiastical art since 2005 and established himself as one of the leading photographers of stained glass following the publication of Stained Glass from Welsh Churches in 2014.
Among his research interests is the role of medievalism in visual culture, and this was a significant part of his recent practice-based PhD, which explored the engagements of artists with medieval decorative arts in Wales. Martin is currently Research Fellow at the Centre, working on the ‘Cult of Saints in Wales’ project.

Medievalism and Modernity in Twentieth-century Ecclesiastical Stained Glass

Martin Crampin
University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies

Stained glass made for churches in the nineteenth century was profoundly influenced by the surviving stained glass from the Middle Ages, and this medievalism continued into the twentieth century, with Gothic Revival windows still being made even after the Second World War. From the 1950s, a growing number of stained glass designers, influenced by contemporary painting, rejected these late medieval styles of design but did not forsake the past, as influential writers such as John Piper and Lawrence Lee drew parallels with Modernism and the stained glass of the twelfth and thirteenth century.
In the process of renewing and invigorating the design of stained glass, Victorian Gothic Revival glass was disparaged and these competing medievalisms have coloured the appreciation of much nineteenth- and early twentieth-century stained glass to this day.