Glasgow’s Stained Glass: Colour & Light

The name “stained” glass, is a misnomer which refers to a process originating in 14th century Britain. Previously, Silver Nitrate was used on glass as a yellow pigment. Unlike other colours, when applied it soaked right into the glass itself, thereby creating a permanent yellow stain.

All stained glass featured in this exhibition dates mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries onwards. Unfortunately, earlier examples of this fragile art form are rare. Most windows dating from the 16th century and before were destroyed through Reformation violence, or by centuries of Scottish weather and neglect. Colourful glass had no place in the newly reformed Scottish Kirk, so it was not until the 19th century that the art of Stained Glass in Scotland once again began to flourish. Stained glass windows added an authentic medieval touch to buildings being designed in the fashionable new Gothic Revival style, but over the decades various art movements have provided inspiration for stained glass artists. Post-war, memorial windows dominated, but after 1918 the exploration of personal and contemporary style became predominant. Artists like Douglas

Strachan and Crear McCartney emerged, proving that this ancient art from was both modern and relevant. Now that we are paying closer attention to our built heritage than ever before, we should not neglect our stained glass. Its inclusion in a building istransformative,andithasamagical quality which makes it deserving of our attention.

This exhibition celebrated not only Glasgow’s stained glass, but our attempt to preserve it digitally. An ambitious three month project to create an online database of stained glass began in September 2014, in conjunction with RCAHMS and the Scottish Stained Glass Trust.

This database, though small, will grow over time, providing researchers, artists, and students all over the world with a wonderful new resource. One day, we hope that all of Scotland’s stained glass will be catalogued, and we see this project as the beginning of this journey.


Find the database at:

Download the Glasgow’s Stained Glass: Colour & Light exhibition booklet.

All content and photographs by Rachael Purse MA (Hons) MSc.