Thursday, 28 July 2016

Rosenkrantz, Wickhambreaux and Art Nouveau

St. Andrew's Church, Wickhambreaux, Kent.
The Church of St. Andrew, nestled alongside the Little Stour stream in Wickhambreaux, Kent, conceals an art nouveau treasure. 

Although the church dates from the 14th century, like many parish churches in England it 'suffered' renovation and repair in the nineteenth century under the enthusiastic patronage of local Victorian worthies. 

East window.

In this case, the east window which had consisted of a pair of lancet windows was replaced by a contemporary stained glass window depicting the Annunciation. To my eyes, the construction suggests that the original lancet windows were left in place and the surrounding stone infill was pierced to augment the display, but I am no expert.

Astonishingly, the stained glass was manufactured in New York in the Greenwich Village workshops of John La Farge. He was perfecting the application of semi-opaque coloured glass which had been used for decorative vases etc. to the flat stained glass needed for a window. It is claimed that it was La Farge who taught Tiffany how to make opalescent glass. 

The designer of the window was a Dane called Arild Rosenkrantz. He espoused the modern style which in 1896 was Art Nouveau. 

Just look at the sea of lilies and the swirls of green, yellow and blue at the top of the window.

And this remarkable Opus 1 of Rosenkrantz, his first and most important stained glass work, can be found in a small village church in England.

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