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Christopher Whall


The Dumfries and Galloway Fine Art Society


Christopher Whall

Christopher Whall was born in 1849 the son of the Rev William Whall, the Rector of Thurning on the Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire border.  He trained to be a painter at the Royal Academy Schools in London before leaving for Italy in 1876, where he studied mediaeval and renaissance art, being particularly influenced by the work of Botticelli.  On his return to England in 1879 he became involved in the design and technical mastery of stained glass.

 

During the 1880s he was introduced to many of the leading figues in the Arts and Crafts movement most notably John Dando Sedding whom he met in Edinburgh in 1889.  They were attending the second meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Art and its Application to Industry.  Whall spoke on "Some Practical Suggestions for Artistic Co-Operation.

 

During the 1890s Whall made windows for several Scottish buildings including Douglas Castle, Fettes College, Dawyck and in Falkirk and Perthshire.  A number of the "Glasgow Boys" worked in church glass and Alexander Roche worked with Whall on designs for Largs United Presbyterian Church.  James Cromar Watt also worked with Whall on a church in Aberdeen.

 

Through friendship with the architect W R Lethaby, Whall received commissions for two remarkable modern buildings, the Chapel of Saints Colm and Margaret at Malsetter House on the Island of Hoy and All Saints Church, Brockhampton, Herefordshire.  Lethaby also commissioned Whall to write Stained Glass Work:  A Text Book for Students and Workers in Glass, which was published in 1905.

 

Christopher Whall was a considerable influence on the leading stained glass worker in Scotland, Douglas Strachan.  Whall taught at the Royal College of Art and also at the central School or Arts and Crafts in London and in 1905 opened his own studio workshop in Hammersmith.  He was an active member of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society and in 1912 was, Master of the Art Workers Guild.

 

Although he was based in London Whall remained a countryman at heart and incorporated flowers, birds, trees and animals in his designs wherever he could.  The fruits and vegetables of a county garden can be seen in his work depicting Saint Ninian for the McEachern window in Sorbie Parish Church, an important example of Whall's work in Scotland.

 

Christopher Whall died in 1924 but his studio continued under the direction of his daughter Veronica until her retirement in the 1950s.

 

St Ninian's Miraculous Garden

St Ninian's Miraculous Garden