James Powell and Sons, Whitefriars, London.
James Powell and Sons of Whitefriars were arguably the most creative glass factory Britain has ever produced. Producing superlative examples of finely crafted glass wares from 1834 until 1980, they made glass of exceptional artistic and technical quality. Although Whitefriars art glass is world renowned and highly collectible, the studio was also one of the most important manufacturers and suppliers of ecclesiastical stained glass. So popular and competent was the work done at Powell and Sons, that none other than William Morris, regularly had his designs transferred to glass by the company. By the 1880s, Powell and Sons glass figured prominently in the Morris and Company retail showroom at 449 Oxford Street, London. In addition, Powell and Sons were instrumental in the transfer of many of Edward Burne-Jones’ Stained Glass Window designs to glass.
English firm of glass manufacturers. The late 17th-century Whitefriars Glass Works, on the site of the Whitefriars monastery in the City of London, was bought in 1834 by a merchant James Powell (1774–1840). In 1844 his sons added a stained-glass department to cater for the growing demand for windows. In 1851 the firm was commissioned by the stained-glass specialist Charles Winston (1814–64) to re-create medieval glass through its proper chemical constituents. This ‘antique’ glass was produced on a large scale from 1853 (e.g. the west window of Norwich Cathedral, painted by George Hedgeland in 1854) and was used by many other studios. Powell’s was one of the most successful Victorian firms because it had a policy of employing many distinguished artists as freelance designers. Although there was no distinctive house style, standards of design were high. Edward Burne-Jones provided cartoons from 1857 to 1861; he was succeeded in 1863 by Henry Holiday, whose style changed from Pre-Raphaelite to classical during his long association with the firm, which continued until 1891. Other celebrated designers included H. E. Wooldridge (1845–1917), Henry Stacy Marks, William De Morgan, Philip Webb and Ford Madox Brown. By the end of the century the firm was also producing fine tableware, paperweights and tesserae for mosaics. Twentieth-century works include windows for Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and are generally ‘signed’ in the border by the figure of a friar. In 1962 it became Whitefriars Glass Ltd. The stained-glass department closed in 1973 and the glassworks in 1980.
Needless to say, these works of art are one of a kind originals. Most often the drawings were destroyed after the window had been completed.
James Powell and Sons
Original Stained Glass Cartoon
Watercolor and Graphite on paper
25 1/2″ x 14 3/4″
No Church Identified
This one, for whatever reason was trimmed at some point to follow the contours of the outer lead lines.
Condition: These drawings were stored (rolled-up) for decades. They have general overall soiling and rough margin wear. This one has a small tear (please see photo) Major defects are duly noted. They are fascinating historical documents and make for stunning decorative appeal.
This original cartoon (and others we will be listing) are from a collection dispersed in Canada some 20 years ago. Almost all works were from the studios of James Powell and Sons. Most date to the 1910-1940 era. Many of the churches still exist and the windows for which these designs were created still rest in place. Most of the cartoons indicate the church for which they were intended and the placement of the window within the church. The majority of the designs are for churches in the United Kingdom.