Stained glass butterflies

The stained glass butterfly is a journey into the representation of butterflies in stained glass windows in different parts of the world and among the best known stained glass artists.

This is definitely the year of the butterflies. One of the most popular artists on the contemporary art scene is Damien Hirst who this year was exhibiting at the Tate Modern Gallery in London with a collection inspired by butterflies and stained glass. He presented works that recall Gothic rose windows and Gothic arches, created with skill using real butterfly wings and provoking the anger of environmentalists.

Damien Hirst Butterflies
The butterflies Damien Hirst

But why sacrifice all these poor animals? And how long will a work with real butterfly wings, already so fragile in nature last?

All of this added to the fact that I recently created two glass panels with butterflies, inspired me to do this research about stained glass butterflies.
I wanted to look for contemporary artists that I admire and whose skills and artists who have made the history of stained glass who have represented butterflies in stained glass. I ordered the works in this article in chronological order and I’ve limited myself to succinct descriptions suitable for the variety of audiences that visit my blog.

The first work entitled “The Butterflies Window” was created by the Tiffany & Co studio in 1885 originally this stained glass window adorned Laurelton Hall, the private residence of Louis Comfort Tiffany. This beautiful stained glass window represents a flock of yellow-orange butterflies flying around an illuminated Japanese lamp, the work is now kept at the Morse Museum in Florida.

Butterflies Stained glass window Tiffany
Butterflies Window Louis Comfort Tiffany

The second work was created by John La Farge in 1889 for the private home of william H. White in New York and titled “Butterflies and Foliage” (fronds and butterflies). This beautiful leaded glass window made with opalescent glasses of intense colour, now housed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Butterflies Stained Glass La Farge 2
Detail, Butterflies and Foliage John La Farge

Jonh Piper (1903-1992) designed a series of sacred stained glass windows with images of butterflies symbolizing the resurrection. John Piper English artist who has dealt with painting and engravings as well as stained glass projects and collaborating for years with the glass artist Patrick Reyntiens. Among the most famous works the stained glass window for the construction of Coventry cathedral after the medieval one was almost razed to the ground during World War II. We report here a three-light window made by Patrick Reyntiens for the church of San Barnabas in Nettlebed (photo by Ian Wood) and a stained glass window in the church of Farnborough made by Joseph Nuttgens.

Butterflies Stained Glass Piper
John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens, Saint Barnaba Nettlebed, Uk
Butterflies Stained Glass John Piper
Church of Farnborough, John Piper e Joseph Nuttgens

In 2007, however, a stained glass window was installed in the parish of the small town called Staple near Canterbury, created by the Cathedral Studios in Canterbury. This stained glass window was donated to the church by a lady in memory of her deceased husband. This work called “The Pilgrimage Window” contains colorful butterflies that fly around stylized figures and musical scores, to commemorate the deceased’s commitment as a parish organist. Here is a detail of the window.

Pilgrimage Window
the Pilgrimage Window, detail
Butterflies Stained Glass Window Aidan Thompson
The window of Aidan MacRae Thompson

An artist and friend that I respect and with whom I have had the pleasure of collaborating in England is Aidan MacRae Thompson. Aidan after completing his studies in architectural glass at the University of Swansea has successfully designed and built works for various churches in the United Kingdom. Here are his stained glass butterflies that fly elegantly around the tree of life. This stained glass window was created by MacRae Thompson in 2009 for the Nuneaton mortuary in Warwickshire.

And now here is a beautiful butterfly by artist Judson Portzer who works as a glass artist in Huntsville, Alabama USA. This beautiful butterfly of the Vanessa species is masterfully painted on transparent glass with grisaille and enamels.

Painted Butterfly
Judson Portzer's butterfly

To complete two IKO Studio panels, the first is a circular panel created to adorn a window, while the other will become a special lamp. Both works are made with a background of beautiful Lamberts blown glass free of paint to bring out the bubbles and textures created during blowing.
The wings of the butterflies are created with transparent and painted with grisaille and different colours enamels.

Lamps with butterflies

And here is a recent commission created for one of our clients in Rome. Two elegant lamps with butterflies made with the copper foil technique and glass painting.

In fact, the number of stained glass windows with the butterfly theme is incredible. Both experienced and novice artists enjoy the charm of this insect. On internet you can find several examples of stained glass butterflies, however I invite you to report other stained glass windows with this theme and to leave comments in the space below, where you can also attach photos.