Windows for the world: nineteenth-century stained glass and the international exhibitions, 1851-1900 focuses on the display and reception of nineteenth-century stained glass in an international and secular context, by exploring the significance of the stained glass displayed at ten international exhibitions held in Britain, France, the USA and Australia between 1851 and 1900. International in scope, it is the first study to explore the global development of stained glass in this period, as showcased at, and influenced by, these international events. Drawing on hundreds of contemporaneous written and visual sources, it identifies the artists and makers who exhibited stained glass, as well as those who reviewed and judged the exhibits. It also provides close readings of specific stained glass exhibits in relation to stylistic developments, material and technological innovations, iconographic themes and visual ideologies. This monograph broadens approaches to post-medieval stained glass by placing stained glass in its wider cultural, political, economic and global contexts. It provides new perspectives and fresh interpretations of stained glass in these environments, through themed chapters, each of which highlight a different aspect of stained glass in the nineteenth century, including material taxonomies, modes of display, stylistic eclecticism, exhibitors’ international networks, production and consumption, nationalism and imperialism. As such, the book challenges many of the major methodological and historiographical assumptions and paradigms relating to the study of stained glass. Its scope and range will have wide appeal to those interested in the history of stained glass as well as nineteenth-century culture more broadly.
Chapter 3 discusses the stylistic diversity of stained glass in this period, as evident in the international exhibition displays, which demonstrate a varied and eclectic approach to historicism and modernism; two concepts which were not mutually exclusive in this era. Nineteenth-century stained glass was continually associated with, and assessed in relation to historic styles, yet artists simultaneously encountered and adopted new styles including Japonisme and Art Nouveau. Significantly, this chapter also charts the rapid secularisation of the medium and its adaptation to modern settings and contexts, as influenced by and demonstrated at these exhibition environments.
Chapter 4 seeks to ascertain whether those makers who exhibited stained glass at these events were representative of the nineteenth-century stained glass industry at large. It outlines exhibitors’ roles in the bureaucratic organisation of exhibitions and their commercial incentives for participating, revealing how exhibitors responded to the demands of consumers. It demonstrates that these displays helped exhibitors gain commissions and influence abroad, and considers the ways in which these events shaped exhibitors’ reputations.
Chapter 5 discusses how the exhibition environment stimulated new iconographies and meanings in stained glass. Using a number of examples it demonstrates how the stained glass exhibits reflected, and influenced, some of the global political themes of the nineteenth-century exhibitions: nationalism, imperialism, and human variety. This chapter makes an important intervention in stained glass studies by considering, for the first time, the role of stained glass in the formation of racial and ethnic stereotypes to both emphasise human variety and reinforce social hierarchies. It also considers the influence of non-western culture and religions on the development of stained glass.
Chapter 1 focuses on the classification and status of stained glass, revealing the ways in which international exhibitions contributed to debates over its artistic status, display and arrangement within the exhibition environments. It begins by examining the theoretical problems and potentialities of displaying an architectural art such as stained glass in a temporary exhibition setting, putting it into a museological context. It also explores how official exhibition classification schemes propagated interpretations of stained glass as a manufactured product rather than a decorative art. Finally, it addresses issues of artistic education, practice and labour in relation to nineteenth-century stained glass, interrogating the role of the artist in an age of industrialisation, and argues that in this era, stained glass was intrinsically hybrid, a product of collaborative labour.
Chapter 2 explores, chronologically, exhibition by exhibition, the ways in which stained glass was physically displayed at the international exhibitions, and charts the reaction of exhibition organisers, exhibitors, the public and critics to some of the main official and unofficial stained glass displays at these events. It therefore provides an overview of the significance of stained glass at these events, and reveals changing attitudes towards the displays of stained glass within these new environments.