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A noteworthy pair of Edwardian stained glass church windows depicting Calvin and Knox – the great Reformers
each rectangular leaded panel depicting the respective bearded theologian carrying a book, wearing long fur-lined robes and standing within a decorated interior framed with gothic tracery and mounted in a steel frame; the Calvin panel bearing the artist's signature for the series: "Designed and Executed by Andrew Stoddart, The Studio, Long Row, Nottingham",
A series of beautifully painted stained-glass windows, salvaged from the Central United Reformed Church in Derby, dating to around 1906, has been acquired by LASSCO. Of the series, this pair by Stoddart are the most accomplished.
John Calvin (1509-64) was born in France and became central to the Reformation movement in Europe. Originally from Noyon France, he ultimately settled in Geneva. John Knox (1514-72) was a Scottish theologian and one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. He railed against Mary Queen of Scots and moved to England where he was impressed by Edward IV – the young protestant king. On the accession of Queen Mary and the English crown’s reversion to Catholicism, Knox was to move to Geneva in order to join forces and his ideology with Calvin. By 1560 he had returned to Scotland.
About the artist:
Andrew Stoddart 1876-1941
Born in Abbey, Renfrewshire, Andrew Stoddart was apprenticed to the Edinburgh stained-glass workshop Ballantine’s (at that stage known as “Ballantine and Gardiner” – the workshop was best known for having provided the stained glass for the House of Lords in the 1840’s). He later worked for Oscar Paterson (1863-1934) at his well-known stained-glass workshop in Glasgow – prime exponents of the “Glasgow Style”. A series of secular stained-glass panels dated c.1900 emerged at Bonhams in 2011 – these were made at Paterson’s by Stoddart at this time in his early career (commissioned for the Education Department Buildings in Bath Street Glasgow – it later became the Art House Hotel).
Stoddart moved to Nottingham and by 1906 had set up his own workshops at Long Row. He was already known for his exquisite work in glass and work in the Midlands was coming his way. In 1911 he is recorded as living at 9 Clarendon Street with his wife, two daughters, his brother and a servant. A window, “Sir Launcelot and Elaine” by Stoddart, installed at the house, is now held at the Stained Glass Museum, Ely. During the first war he lived at 7 Castle Road and later 54 Park Road.
The series of windows acquired by LASSCO were originally made 1906-13 by Stoddart for the Victoria Street Congregational Church in Derby. They were removed when the building was demolished and installed in the new church in 1963, soon to be known as the Central United Reformed Church. Each of the singular figures – and the respective Biblical story depicted in the smaller corresponding panels – were cut out and dropped into a field of obscured plain glass at this point.
These two larger panels however, featuring Knox and Calvin, were also made by Stoddart at a similar time but for a different Derby church: The Green Lane Presbyterian Church. These two congregations were to merge as part of the Unification of 1972 – the creation of the United Reformed Church nationally. The windows from Green Lane were also united – and they were installed alongside the Victoria Street windows.
The 1963 building was recently demolished during a large redevelopment of this part of Derby. The church faced a conundrum as the safe removal of the glass, and perhaps the retention and re-use of the glass, was not a cost they could bear. Happily, it was all carefully removed on demolition and was later cut to uniform panels and re-mounted – all done by the demolition contractor who acquired the salvage rights to them rather than let them be destroyed. LASSCO has completed the restoration. The Central United Reformed Church is now re-sited just up the road in Nottingham.
Stoddart’s other known works include a King David window at St Columbus’ Church, Nottingham (later re-consecrated as St. Andrew’s), as well as examples known in Northampton (Collingtree Church), Brentwood in Ontario Canada and a late work – a window in St Wilfred’s, Kirkby in Ashfield, signed and dated 1939. Various secular works of his have been uncovered in domestic settings in Glasgow but most notable is a spectacular window he made for Long Eaton Library, Derbyshire. It can still be viewed there. It celebrates the Muses of Literature, Poetry, Painting and Music and dates to the library opening in 1906-7. It bears the motto “Read not to contradict and refute but to weigh and consider” (Francis Bacon) and “Reading maketh a full man”.
Andrew Stoddart exhibited fifty works at Nottingham Art Gallery over the years, and nine at The Royal Academy in London – primarily designs for windows, including “The Adoration” (1906), and “St. Ursula” (1910). He also exhibited his designs at The Louvre, Paris.