A classic entry in Christie's South Kensington's Classic Arts and Crafts sale on May 2 provided one of the day’s top results – £6800 for this pair of 2ft x 12in (61 x 31cm) c.1900 stained glass panels decorated with mediaeval landscapes and a text inscription.
They were designed by Mary Newill and produced by the Bromsgrove Guild. Newill, who was heavily linked to the Birmingham School of Art, moved on to stained glass work from painting and embroidery, winning first prize in The Studio competition in 1897. She was greatly influenced by Burne-Jones’ work for Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. to whom this work owes an obvious debt.
The shape of these panels and their subject suggests a domestic rather than religious commission. They had the bonus of a direct provenance, to Walter Gilbert, head of the Bromsgrove Guild, entered by his descendants.
A second panel was also consigned from the same source. A religious rather than domestic subject this time, and by a different designer, it depicted Saint Ursula and the 11,000 virgins. Although stylistically attributed to Henry Payne, another Birmingham Group luminary, CSK’s Michael Jeffery said that closer inspection revealed varying paint styles, suggesting that Payne had probably executed the saint’s face and his assistants the remainder. This fetched a lower estimate £2000.
Both panels saw considerable interest from stained glass as well as decorative arts specialists. The pair of Newill panels was secured by a UK Museum while the St Ursula sold to a London dealer.