Charles Eamer Kempe. Stained Glass Windows.

Age: 19th century

Condition: Excellent


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Four stained glass leaded windows.  Each window pane approx. 120cm by 18cm. Dimensions are for one pane.


F.B.A, is proud to offer four stained glass windows by Charles Eamer Kempe modelled it is believed by Sir Edward Cole Burne–Jones. These windows were originally perfected for a private chapel which has since been decommissioned into a fine dining room.

A further four paintings by Sir Edward Cole Burne–Jones along with another twelve Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s paintings will shortly be offered by F.B.A.

Charles Eamer Kempe (29 June 1837 – 29 April 1907) was a Victorian designer and manufacturer of stained glass. His studios produced over 4,000 windows and also designs for altars and altar frontals, furniture and furnishings, lichgates and memorials that helped to define a later nineteenth-century Anglican style. The list of English cathedrals containing examples of his work:  – Chester, Gloucester, Hereford, Lichfield, Wells, Winchester and York.

Kempe’s networks of patrons and influence stretched from the Royal Family and the Church of England hierarchy to the literary and artistic beau monde.

Charles Kempe was born at Ovingdean Hall, near Brighton, East Sussex in 1837. He was the youngest son of Nathaniel Kemp (1759–1843), a cousin of Thomas Read Kemp, a politician and property developer responsible for the Kemptown area of Brighton and the maternal grandson of Sir John Eamer, who served as Lord Mayor of London in 1801. The fact that Kempe’s father was almost eighty when he was born coloured his life and attitudes,

After attending Twyford School and Rugby, he attended Pembroke College, Oxford where he was influenced by the Anglo-Catholic Tractarian revival and considered a vocation to the priesthood. It was at Oxford that Kempe was inspired by seeing William Morris design the Debating Chamber at the Oxford Union. When he realised he was unable to manage his stammer, Kempe decided that “if I was not permitted to minister in the Sanctuary I would use my talents to adorn it”, and subsequently went to study architecture with the firm of a leading ecclesiastical architect George Frederick Bodley. His first task, on leaving Oxford, was to gain some work experience. With the help of his well-connected father, Kempe was able to persuade Bodley to take him on as an assistant, and thus he found himself in Cambridge just at the time when Bodley was beginning the building and decoration of All Saints Church, Cambridge. Here he was able to learn from both Bodley and Morris and to develop his sense of how to colour a church. With Morris and Bodley, Kempe learned the aesthetic principles of medieval church art, particularly stained glass. During the 1860s Kempe collaborated with Bodley on the internal painting of two churches, All Saints, Jesus Lane in Cambridge and St John’s, Tuebrook in Liverpool. Later, in 1892, Bodley and Kempe would work together once more on All Saints at Danehill, East Sussex.

In 1866 he opened a studio of his own in London, supplying and creating stained glass and furnishings and vestments. The firm prospered and by 1899 he had over fifty employees. As a trademark, the firm used a golden ‘garb’ or heraldic wheatsheaf, taken from Kempe’s own coat of arms. The mid-Victorian period were important years in the history of the design of English churches and Kempe’s influence is found in numerous examples, many in his home county of Sussex which has 116 examples of his work.  The works at St Mark’s, Staplefield near Horsham, West Sussex dating from 1869 are regarded as especially important, representing the earliest of three known examples of Kempe’s wall painting. They contain key elements of Kempe’s figurative work. The angels holding the scroll are magnificently apparelled and the borders of their cloaks are embellished with pearls, each individually highlighted although they do not contain a design of peacock feathers, a well used embellishment in later works. Rosalie Glynn Grylls, Lady Mander, whose home Wightwick Manor, near Wolverhampton, contains many pieces of Kempe’s stained glass, wrote in 1973: “Kempe’s work has a unique charm; its colours shine out from jewels that cluster on the mitres or the crowns his figures wear and from their peacocks’ feathers, while angels playing their instruments are drawn with tender delicacy and scattered above the main windows informally but making a pattern of precision. Above all, the prevailing yellow wash is literally translucent, for it lets through the rays of the full or the setting sun…” Kempe’s memorial windows at St Martin’s Church, Newton Park (1879), near Leeds, are fine examples of his work and his stained glass remained much in demand in England well into the 20th century. One of Kempe’s last pieces of work can be seen in the Chapel at the Duke of York’s Royal Military School, Dover, Kent.

Kempe’s students include Charles Edward Tute (1858 – 4 November 1927), who was born in Ripon. Many of his windows, signed “CET”, show influence of the master. In 1906 he migrated to Australia, where he was also known for his bookplates. He died in Brisbane.

On Kempe’s death in 1907 in accordance with his will the firm was reformed as C. E. Kempe & Co. Ltd and Kempe’s distant cousin, Walter Ernest Tower (1873–1955), was appointed chairman. The company thenceforth used a black tower above the golden garb as its mark. A lack of orders caused by the Great Depression ended the firm in 1934.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet, 28 August 1833 – 17 June 1898) was a British artist and designer associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who worked with William Morris on decorative arts as a founding partner in Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.

Burne-Jones was involved in the rejuvenation of the tradition of stained glass art in Britain; his works include windows in St. Philip’s Cathedral, Birmingham, St Martin in the Bull Ring, Birmingham, Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Square, Chelsea, St Peter and St Paul parish church in Cromer, St Martin’s Church in Brampton, Cumbria (the church designed by Philip Webb), St Michael’s Church, Brighton, Trinity Church in Frome, All Saints, Jesus Lane, Cambridge, St Edmund Hall, and Christ Church, two colleges of the University of Oxford. His stained glass works also feature in St Anne’s Church, Brown Edge, Staffordshire Moorlands, and St Edward the Confessor church at Cheddleton Staffordshire. Burne-Jones’s early paintings show the inspiration of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, but by the 1860s Burne-Jones was discovering his own artistic “voice”.

In 1877, he was persuaded to show eight oil paintings at the Grosvenor Gallery (a new rival to the Royal Academy). These included The Beguiling of Merlin. The timing was right and he was taken up as a herald and star of the new Aesthetic Movement. Burne-Jones worked in crafts; including designing ceramic tiles, jewellery, tapestries, and mosaics.

In 1861, William Morris founded the decorative arts firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. with Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and Philip Webb as partners, together with Charles Faulkner and Peter Paul Marshall, the former of whom was a member of the Oxford Brotherhood, and the latter a friend of Brown and Rossetti. The prospectus set forth that the firm would undertake carving, stained glass, metal-work, paper-hangings, chintzes (printed fabrics), and carpets. The decoration of churches was from the first an important part of the business. The work shown by the firm at the 1862 International Exhibition attracted notice, and later it was flourishing. Two significant secular commissions helped establish the firm’s reputation in the late 1860s: a royal project at St. James’s Palace and the “green dining room” at the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert) of 1867 which featured stained glass windows and panel figures by Burne-Jones.

In 1871 Morris & Co. were responsible for the windows at All Saints, designed by Burne-Jones for Alfred Baldwin, his wife’s brother-in-law. The firm was reorganised as Morris & Co. in 1875, and Burne-Jones continued to contribute designs for stained glass, and later tapestries until the end of his career. Nine windows designed by him and made by Morris & Co were installed in Holy Trinity Church in Frome.  Stained glass windows in the Christ Church cathedral and other buildings in Oxford are by Morris & Co. with designs by Burne-Jones.  Stanmore Hall was the last major decorating commission executed by Morris & Co. before Morris’s death in 1896. It was the most extensive commission undertaken by the firm, and included a series of tapestries based on the story of the Holy Grail for the dining room, with figures by Burne-Jones.

In 1891 Jones was elected a member of the Art Workers Guild.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (later known as the Pre-Raphaelites) was a group of English painters, poets, and art critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner who formed a seven-member “Brotherhood” modelled in part on the Nazarene movement. The Brotherhood was only ever a loose association and their principles were shared by other artists of the time, including Ford Madox Brown, Arthur Hughes and Marie Spartali Stillman. Later followers of the principles of the Brotherhood included Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris and John William Waterhouse.

The group sought a return to the abundant detail, intense colours and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian art. They rejected what they regarded as the mechanistic approach first adopted by Mannerist artists who succeeded Raphael and Michelangelo. The Brotherhood believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name “Pre-Raphaelite”. In particular, the group objected to the influence of Sir Joshua Reynolds, founder of the English Royal Academy of Arts, whom they called “Sir Sloshua”. To the Pre-Raphaelites, according to William Michael Rossetti, “sloshy” meant “anything lax or scamped in the process of painting … and hence … any thing or person of a commonplace or conventional kind”. The group associated their work with John Ruskin, an English critic whose influences were driven by his religious background. Christian themes were abundant.

The group continued to accept the concepts of history painting and mimesis, imitation of nature, as central to the purpose of art. The Pre-Raphaelites defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct name for their form of art, and published a periodical, The Germ, to promote their ideas. The group’s debates were recorded in the Pre-Raphaelite Journal. The Brotherhood separated after almost five years.


History & Provenance

Charles Eamer Kempe perfected for private chapel.

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