The history of one of Ferguson & Urie’s most famous stained glass windows can only be surmised by the following article:
“I have just received per mail, a photograph of a splendid piece of work – in the shape of a magnificent stained glass window, it is equal to anything of the kind produced in the old country, and is a credit to the colony. This splendid piece of work has just been completed for the new theatre now about opening in Melbourne, and has been manufactured at the works of Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, of Curzon-street, Melbourne, its designers and the artists to whom it will testify for years to come; they have successfully carried out a specimen of the fine arts, such as could not be excelled in any part of the Queen’s dominions. It consists of three separate parts a central and two wings – the central part has a fine life sized portrait of the immortal Will. Shakespeare, surrounded by a border of scroll and arabesque work, with flowers intermixed of the richest colours; over the poets head is a coat of arms, in a kind of oriel – under his feet is a device, emblematic of the profession – a lyre, masque, &c, &c, this as well as the oriel is likewise surrounded by borderings of quaint and original design and the whole window had a border edged each side with a narrower one – of the most chaste and beautiful description. The Poet stands in a leaning attitude, pen in hand dressed in the handsome costume of Queen Elizabeth’s time. The two side departments each contain two full length portraits of the most prominent characters, such as the Jolly Old Knight, “Sir John Falstaff,” Macbeth’s guilty Queen and other two. The whole of this beautiful work is formed of Stained Glass of the richest transparent colours and is the first thing of the kind on so large a scale, executed in Victoria.”
The Shakespeare window is now on display at the top of the dome in the La Trobe reading room. It was restored by Geoffrey Wallace stained glass studio in 2005. Originally it included two narrow side windows devoted to the Shakespearean characters, Hamlet and Lady Macbeth and Beatrice but what became of those is unknown.
18-11-1876: St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria.
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