In 2014, the Rakow Library received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop an innovative methodology for preserving, digitizing, and making accessible our collection of Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) stained glass cartoons. The Whitefriars Collection was gifted to the Rakow Library in 2008 by the Museum of London. The collection consists of 1,800 rolls of cartoons, or working drawings: an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 works on paper. Last year, the Rakow completed the first year of a five-year Discovering the Whitefriars Collection project, conserving and digitizing 15 rolls, for a total of 120 cartoons.
This summer, we’ve embarked on the second year of the project alongside our partners, West Lake Conservators and the Museum of London. We also welcomed two new conservation interns, Laura Hashimoto and Bonnie Hodul. As we move forward, we are expanding our work to include cartoons for Whitefriars installations around the world. We have an exciting selection of rolls picked out, including designs for windows in Temple Emanuel in New York City, Minster Church of St. Nicholas in Great Yarmouth, and St. Vedast Foster Lane in London. The latter two churches are Sir Christopher Wren churches heavily damaged during World War II. Whitefriars helped to restore the stained glass in these churches.
We are particularly excited to conserve works by artists Alfred Fisher and Pierre Fourmaintraux, including Fisher’s work for Parish Church of Saint George in Headstone, Harrow. The original window was installed in 1965, but due to budget constraints, Fisher was not able to complete his design until 2003.
The interns and library staff unrolled these objects for the first time, to find a number of individual photographs and tracing paper designs of stained glass Whitefriars windows by P. Fourmaintraux.
Fourmaintraux is famous for his work in dalle de verre, a technique that uses pieces of colored glass fixed in a matrix of concrete. We will conserve his cartoons for the windows in St. Peter’s Church, Lawrence Weston, Bristol, and for those in the War Memorial in Auckland, New Zealand.
Of course, we are also excited to work on cartoons for windows designed by James Hogan, Whitefriars’ most well-known designer.
As we work, we will reach out to others who have installations or share our enthusiasm for Whitefriars’ work. Ultimately, we will create a study collection of Whitefriars cartoons and make them available online. We will facilitate participation among institutions and glass enthusiasts worldwide by crowd-sourcing information and images of existing windows. Researchers will be able to download digitized copies of our cartoons and contribute their knowledge and photographs to the project.
If you have a Whitefriars installation for which you would like to see the cartoons, please let us know. Stay tuned for further updates!
The Rakow Research Library is open to the public 9am to 5pm every day. We encourage everyone to explore our collections in person or online. If you have questions or need help with your research, please use our Ask a Glass Question service.