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Period styles

Victorianview examples

Victorian leadlights are  characterised by geometric designs reminiscent of tessellated/mosaic tiles. Backgrounds are usually muted shades with borders and accents of stronger colours: reds, ambers, brass yellows, violets, turquoise greens and deep blues.

Elements include spun roundels, jewels and lenses, as well as painted/fired quarries (small panes of glass) and roundels depicting birds, flowers, and figurative scenes. Although they mostly consist of simple patterns, Victorian leadights can create striking effects through the use of colour.

Arts & Craftsview examples

The Arts & Crafts movement, essentially a revival of traditional methods of production and simplicity of form, originated in Victorian Britain in reaction to industrialism and the consequent degeneration of craftsmanship in architecture and the decorative arts. Arts and Crafts ideals and style very soon gained an international following and became a strong influence on Australia's turn of the century architecture and associated decorative arts, including leaded glazing.

Australian Arts and Crafts leadlights commonly feature roses in the 'Glasgow Style' of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, as well as geometry and form borrowed from the Viennese Secessionist school and from the American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Art Nouveauview examples

From the late 19th century through to the post war period, many of Sydney's grand homes featured Art Nouveau leadlight windows. These leadlights characteristically treat the lead lines themselves as the foremost design element. Inspiration was primarily drawn from nature, in the form of sinuous, rhythmic, and often whiplashing lines mimicking those found in the plant world and from the curves of the female form. Unique to the style, art nouveau designs were quite often asymmetrical.

Edwardian & Federationview examples

Federation leadlight designs express Australian Edwardian sentiments. Leadlights of this period often contain symbols of Empire and Dominion such as roses, lilies, thistles, as well as waratahs, flannel flowers, and other indigenous flora and fauna.

With the emergence of Australian Nationalism, kookaburras, currawongs and the occasional larrikin cockatoo soon displaced the delicately painted robins, finches and other European birds and flowers found in Victorian windows.

Towards the end of this era and into the inter-war period, small picture windows in opalescent and semi-opaque glass became popular. These leadlights featured romantic scenes of yachts, cottages, windmills, and lighthouses. These small feature windows are common to homes in  'sea-side' Brighton Le Sands and suburbs surrounding Haberfield.

Art Decoview examples

Art Deco leadlights express the modernism of the inter-war period. Flowing lines and floral motifs gave way to a machine-age aesthetic expressed in geometric forms.

The subtlety of glass colours and textures that had carried over from the nineteenth century was replaced by the use of newly created patterned glass- mainly colourless and heavily textured. Accents of coloured glass and semi-opaques, including turquoise, red, white, and mixed colour or streaky glass were common features. Occasionally black glass and snippets of sheet lead were used to create negative space in the designs.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous design elements to be found in leadlights of the period are the 'sunray' and 'fountain' motifs, both evident in the title image of this page.

Contemporary & Architecturalview examples

Contemporary & Architectural stained glass is characterised by innovation in design, technique, and use of materials. During the last century, many notable stained glass designers and architects including Henri Matisse, Harry Clarke, Frank Lloyd-Wright, and Marc Chagall engaged with the medium. In the Australian context, Marion Mahoney and Walter Burley Griffin, made significant use of decorative glass in their buildings.

While modernism is apparent in Stained Glass from earlier in the twentieth century, the devastation of European cities during WWII opened a window (literally) for artists, particularly German artists, to reinvent their approach to Architectural Stained Glass. In the UK, the Baptistry Window at Coventry Cathedral, designed by John Piper and executed in 1962 by Patrick Reyntiens, is an absolute triumph of beauty in the wake of destruction.

New approaches in the treatment of the glass itself, for example, fusing of glass, spontaneous glass painting, and the use of materials such as zinc or copper channel in place of lead, can break from the traditional look of leaded windows while retaining the ability to work with natural light in ways characteristic of the medium.

Sacredview examples

Since its origin in mediaeval times, stained glass had, almost exclusively, been a sacred medium.

No other art form can quite match a stained glass window as a means of religious expression. The power of the medium is due to the uplifting effect of light pouring through richly coloured glass and into a sacred interior space.

Besides spritual themes, ecclesiastical works are notable for the quality of the artisan-made glass used, as well as hand-painted and kiln fired details.

Works can be figurative, illustrating elements of religious texts, they may contain religious symbols, and in contemporary contexts express sacred ideas and emotion through abstract design.