Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A WM Wiltshire Stained Glass Tour by Sasha Ward

Map of North Wiltshire showing the location of the three churches - it's about seven miles between Sopworth and the other two.

Map of North Wiltshire showing the location of the three churches - it's about seven miles between Sopworth and the other two.

We started at St Mary's Sopworth, where a low, south facing three light window shows Mary Magdalene, The Virgin Mary and Mary of Cleopas. I had never seen a reproduction of this window and was amazed at how beautiful it looked, with lovely colour, detail and organisation of the background space. The figures were originally designed for Bradford Cathedral, the central Mary by Edward Burne-Jones, the outer two by William Morris. The Mary of Cleopas panel is simple and stunning - I've always heard that Morris couldn't do figures, perhaps it's the skilled glass painter's work that I admire the most.

Window in St. Mary's Church, Sopworth and detail of the right hand panel. EBJ & WM 1873. Click to enlarge.

Next we went to Malmesbury Abbey to see a much later Edward Burne-Jones window. These figures I did recognise from their appearance in earlier windows made by the firm of Morris and Company, where Faith was originally St. George, Courage originally King Ethelbert of Kent and Devotion a centurion. The backgrounds and foliage are also quite standard, but fit well with the lofty space of the Abbey. Painted details, especially on the clothes, are as usual fantastic.

The Luce Window, Malmesbury Abbey. Made by Morris & Company in 1901 to designs by EBJ. Click to enlarge.

Three miles south of Malmesbury is Holy Rood Church, Rodbourne, with some small windows made in the early years of the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company. The designs are by Ford Madox Brown and Dante Gabriel Rossetti; there is also a pelican roundel by Philip Webb in another small window. I love Rossetti's angel and the crucifixion with red background above it. These must have been painted in the period when the firm's paint recipe contained unstable elements because much of the lettering and detail has come off. Strangely the paintwork on the pelican roundel is still perfect, lovingly painted too.

Holy Rood, Rodbourne. Left: The Fall by FMB. Above: Annunciation by DGR.  Pelican roundel by Philip Webb. Click to enlarge.

Would May approve ? by Sasha Ward

One of the first things I liked in Jane Morris' bedroom was not this portrait of her, a CFM watercolour copy of a DGR original, but her daughter May's comment displayed alongside. "It bothered me to have house and church and boathouse all brought together when they were really in different directions..."

Aided by aerial photographs of Kelmscott Manor in the 1972, I have been turning my drawings into designs that are topographically correct, and include paths and rivers where I have seen them in relation to the Manor.

Ink sketches above : design 1 (from the east), design 2 (from the south), design 3 (from the north east). Sketches for repeats based on designs 1, 2 & 3 below.

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My favourite DGR item by Sasha Ward

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On the left, my drawing of Dante Gabriel Rossetti's drawing "Pomegranate and Lily", hanging in WM's bedroom. On the right, the silk embroidery by Jane Morris from this drawing, hanging on the other side of the window. I haven't copied a drawing for ages, what I wanted to show in this and my two first attempts below, is its huge glowing 3 dimensional presence in the room.  

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