Edward Burne-Jones is arguably the greatest artist to be born in Birmingham, and one aspect of his legacy to his native city has been beautifully captured in a new booklet.
Edward Burne-Jones: Pre-Raphaelite Glass in Birmingham illustrates all the stained-glass windows designed by Burne-Jones for Morris & Co which can be found in Birmingham churches. It’s not a vast quantity, but the quality is superb. The windows he designed for St Philip’s Cathedral in the 1880s, crowned by the Last Judgement of 1889, are his masterpieces in stained glass and among his greatest works in any medium.
The pictorial freedom of these windows (facilitated by the fact that he was designing for large window spaces in a neo-classical building) contrasts strikingly with the far more regimented approach of his earliest surviving window in Birmingham, at St Martin’s in the Bull Ring.
The booklet, with photographs by architectural specialist Alastair Carew-Cox and text by Burne-Jones scholar William Waters, is a revised version of one originally commissioned by Burne-Jones’s old school, King Edward’s, to mark the centenary of his death in 1998. However, many of the windows have been re-photographed for the new version and two windows at St Margaret’s, Ward End, have been added for the first time.
The quality of the images in this modest little book is stunning. As Alastair Carew-Cox explains, it’s largely a matter of having the right equipment.
“I use a large-format plate camera, which corrects the perspective,” he says. “It still gives a quality that a digital camera can’t match.”
The booklet may be the overture to what Carew-Cox and Waters hope could be their magnum opus – a comprehensive survey of Pre-Raphaelite stained glass across the UK.
Edward Burne-Jones: Pre-Raphaelite Glass in Birmingham is on sale at Birmingham Cathedral, bookshops or from Alastair Carew-Cox, Home Farm, Abbots Morton, Worcestershire WR7 4NA, email: firstname.lastname@example.org