Readings and Iconographies

Remediation, Medievalism, and Empire in T. W. Camm’s ‘Jubilee of the Nations’ Window at Great Malvern Priory



T. W. Camm’s ‘Jubilee of the Nations’ window created for Great Malvern Priory in 1887 combines a vision of late-Victorian imperial ideology with a narrative of Queen Victoria’s reign. The window is an intense and eclectic combination of visual sources, funded by progressive Birmingham manufacturer James Atkins, and heavily associated with the metalwork firm R. W. Winfield and Co. A series of cultural and racial hierarchies are evident within the upper section of the window, some relating to manufacturing technologies and others possibly stimulated by recent political events. The artist created luminous visual effects to give a spectacular and exotic appearance to figures representing British colonies, while the figure of ‘Great Britain’ is notable for its lack of ornament. Two of the lower panels are based on paintings and show evidence of archaeological research, while the third is remediated from multiple photographic portraits, giving it very different visual properties. The variety of visual sources creates incongruities within the window. The combination of archaeological and anthropological research engenders a problematic equivalence between researching medieval art and racial characteristics, while the window as a whole conflates medievalism, providential theology, and the British Empire.

Keywords: stained glass, photography, remediation, British Empire, medievalism

How to Cite: Cheshire, J. (2020) “Remediation, Medievalism, and Empire in T. W. Camm’s ‘Jubilee of the Nations’ Window at Great Malvern Priory”, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century. 2020(30). doi:

In early Victorian England the revival of stained glass was driven by those motivated by medievalism, but as its popularity grew, stained glass absorbed new influences. Despite its medieval credentials, stained glass became a popular medium that generated a great deal of debate and, as such, should arguably be considered within the rapidly changing landscape of visual technologies in the late nineteenth century. Stained glass fulfilled a distinctive ideological role within site-specific contexts and, for certain kinds of imagery and ideas, proved to be a highly effective art form. This article focuses on one window that exemplifies the complex ways in which stained glass interacted with a number of different influences in the 1880s and argues that our capacity to understand it necessitates exploring how it interacted with other media. This is also an attempt to broaden the debate about Victorian art and empire to ‘reinsert empire as a fundamental category for the analysis of British art’.1 It also underlines that site-specific artworks are not available for inclusion in revisionist exhibitions and so are liable to be excluded from that debate: stained glass is noticeably absent from recent initiatives to explore art and the British Empire.2

The window at the centre of this article is a fascinating example of an artwork that absorbed a range of influences from late-Victorian Britain: it concentrates on a very specific moment (Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887), but embeds this event within established historical narratives and stylistic tropes, generating a strong sense of continuity through allusions to religious imagery and medievalism. The window is simultaneously ancient and modern: a medium associated with the Middle Ages sited within a great medieval church, but an image remediated through a recent technology (photography) and funded by industrial wealth.

The ‘Jubilee of the Nations’

At noon on 15 December 1887, a stained glass window depicting the ‘Jubilee of the Nations’ was unveiled at Great Malvern Priory during a specially designed service (Fig. 1). The window is described in an explanatory leaflet: a diagram identifies figures, while descriptions expand on iconography.3

Fig. 1
Fig. 1

T. W. Camm for Winfield and Co., north aisle window, Great Malvern Priory, 1887. Published with the kind permission of Great Malvern Priory.

The upper section of the window depicts ‘the gathering of all nations to Our Lord Jesus Christ’ while the lower panels present a monarchical and constitutional narrative: ‘Her Majesty’s Accession’, ‘Her Majesty’s Coronation’, and ‘The Jubilee Ceremony’. (Figs. 2, 3). The window is signed ‘Winfields. Limed Cambridge ST. BIRMINGHAM 1887’. R. W. Winfield and Co. is best known as a brass founder based at the ‘Cambridge St. Works’, but this window was made by T. W. Camm (1839–1912), a glass painter better known for working under his own name, who allowed his atelier to work as the stained glass department of Winfield and Co. between 1882 and 1888.4 The donor of the window was James Atkins (c. 1819–1904), who became head of the Winfield firm after the death of R. W. Winfield (1800–1869). By the 1880s, Atkins owned a residence in Great Malvern, but was still head of a firm deeply embedded in the manufacturing culture of Birmingham.5

Fig. 2
Fig. 2

T. W. Camm for Winfield and Co., detail of upper lights, north aisle window, Great Malvern Priory, 1887. Published with the kind permission of Great Malvern Priory.

Fig. 3
Fig. 3

T. W. Camm for Winfield and Co., detail of lower panels, north aisle window, Great Malvern Priory, 1887. Published with the kind permission of Great Malvern Priory.

The ‘gathering of all nations’ in the upper section was linked to a series of biblical texts in the explanatory leaflet: ‘arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee’, ‘thy sons shall come from far’, ‘and the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls’, ‘the sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee’, and ‘the Lord shall be thine everlasting light’ (Isaiah 60. 1, 4, 10, 14, 20). These quotations build up a sense of the benefits of Christian allegiance, the inevitability of ‘strangers’ being involved in military ‘defence’, and the deference eventually shown by conquered subjects. Beneath the upper lights a linked quotation runs across the two outer lights: ‘All Nations Shall do him Service’ from Psalms 72. 11, as set out in the psalter. Beyond the explicit content of these quotations lies a coordinated series of allusions to the providential nature of imperial expansion. This line of thinking understood world history as a plan overseen by a sovereign God who required Britain to take a major role in spreading Christianity and Christian culture around the world.6 Parts of Isaiah were strongly associated with providential conceptions of empire: both Isaiah 60 and Psalms 72 allude to Tarshish, a shadowy maritime and trading power which, as Gareth Atkins suggests, was often read prophetically to refer to Britain.7

The centre light depicts Christ surrounded by seraphim and cherubim above two angels carrying a banner that labels him as ‘Saviour and Redeemer’. The side lights each depict eight nations of the British Empire: in the left-hand light are ‘Great Britain’, ‘West Indian Planter’, ‘Paraguayan’, ‘Canadian’, ‘Heligolander’, ‘West Indian Negro’, ‘Cypriot’, and ‘North American Indian’; and in the right-hand light are ‘Australian Miner’, ‘Chinaman (Hong Kong)’, ‘Fijian’, ‘New Zealander’, ‘Arab, from Aden’, ‘Burman’, ‘African (West)’, and ‘Hindoo [sic]’.

In the foreground to the left, ‘Great Britain’ is ‘a figure in Civic Costume with the Open Bible; and the Cotton, Iron, Art, and Textile Industries’, the latter indicated by a cogwheel, an ornate metal object, and some woven textiles on the ground. Mirroring this figure in the foreground to the right is the ‘Hindoo’, who ‘occupies the first position, presenting offerings of Gold, Jewels, and precious ware’. This gift of materials and objects initiates a theme maintained throughout the window in which colonial subjects offer raw materials and resources in contrast to Britain’s Bible and industries, an economic trope central to late-Victorian representations of empire. Figures representing Cyprus, West India, British Guiana, and Fiji offer fruit appropriate to each region: citrus, sugar cane, and maize. West Canada and West Africa offer the products of hunting: skins, horns, and ivory. East Africa offers spices while Burma brings rubies. At an intermediate stage between the indigenous colonial subjects and ‘Great Britain’ are figures of European descent who are depicted not just as farmers or hunter-gathers but producers: Australia is represented by a gold miner, while East Canada is represented by ‘a Canadian in thick warm clothing with hatchet in belt’. The unlikely pair of West Indians are visually linked through their possession of a sugar palm but described with a similar logic as ‘Planter’ and ‘Liberated Slave’. In three instances the explanation seems at a loss to associate the subject with a gift: Heligoland is merely ‘shewn in the background’, Hong Kong is represented by ‘a Chinaman’ who ‘bows in adoration’, while New Zealand is shown ‘by a Native’. A similar inconsistency is evident in the variations between the diagrammatic key and the descriptive text: ‘Great Britain’ becomes ‘England’, ‘Paraguayan’ becomes ‘British Guiana’, and it turns out that the ‘Arab from Aden’ represents ‘East Africa’. Even more surprisingly, ‘Hindoo’ in the key becomes ‘India’ in the descriptive text, thus ignoring the Muslim and other non-Hindu populations of India. The designation of religious over national identity arguably reflects a tendency to conflate race, religion, and nation. The implication that all colonial subjects were Christian, which was clearly not the case, seems to represent an evangelical goal rather than a reality, as Camm’s key to the image inadvertently points out.

A narrative of monarchy

The lower panels of the window focus on three moments within Victoria’s life: ‘Her Majesty’s Accession’, ‘Her Majesty’s Coronation’, and ‘The Jubilee Ceremony’ (see Fig. 3). These panels were all adapted from other images. Camm based the accession scene on Victoria Regina, an oil painting by Henry Tanworth Wells (1828–1903). This depicts the moment that Victoria heard of her accession to the throne in 1837, although it was painted and exhibited at the Royal Academy much later, in 1880.8 Victoria Regina has been described as Wells’s ‘most popular’ painting and he produced another version, which he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1887.9 Camm adapted the image in interesting ways. The 1880 version of the painting shows the 2nd Marquess Conyngham (1797–1876) kneeling before Victoria, kissing her hand, as the news of the death of her uncle is delivered. The French neoclassicism of the panelled interior and other details were deemed inappropriate for an ecclesiastical context: ‘to give an ecclesiastical appearance to this panel, a Gothic treatment is adopted in the room,’ observed the Birmingham Daily Post, ‘and a picture of the Crucifixion, set with a carved stone frame, is indicated.’10 The Georgian-style sash window was redesigned as leaded quarries and the light-toned ornamental carpet was reworked into a Gothic quatrefoil pattern. Bizarrely, in a detail not mentioned by commentators, Conyngham’s top hat, which he holds away from Victoria in the foreground of the painting, has disappeared. When the two images are viewed alongside each other, this becomes an incongruous omission: the posture only really makes sense with the hat, and its absence in the stained glass panel leaves the figure with a strangely floating left hand. The translation between media left a signature: in this case a compositional anomaly resulting in visual tension.

Camm’s coronation scene is based on another oil painting, The Coronation of Queen Victoria, by Edmund Thomas Parris (1793–1873), commissioned by print publishers Hodgson and Graves in 1838.11 This image has been compressed laterally to adapt the landscape format of the original to the more portrait format of the stained glass panel. The explanatory leaflet laid emphasis on the accuracy of the details: ‘The footstool was sketched by permission of Sir Albert Wood [sic], from the original in his possession. He also kindly furnished information respecting some details of this panel.’ This almost certainly refers to Sir Albert Woods (1816–1904), who was Garter Principal King of Arms from 1869, a role that effectively made him the principal adviser to the monarch on heraldry and ceremonial issues.12 Woods is depicted in the panel (holding a ceremonial staff second from the right) and identified in the key. Camm’s approach is a strange combination of medievalism and realism: while antiquarian scholarship was deployed to recreate detail, Woods is included in the image as an eyewitness and guarantor of authenticity.

Camm’s efforts to generate authenticity took a decisive twist in the third panel, which depicts the jubilee ceremony, an event that had taken place just months before the window was unveiled. The front page of the explanatory leaflet proudly states that

The Portraits of the various Royal Personages have been executed from photographs with which the artist has been specially furnished, in some cases by Their Royal Highnesses, and in other cases by permission of the photographers, Bassano, Downey, The London Stereoscopic Company, and others.

The inclusion of photographically mediated portraits was not new, but Camm was unusual in highlighting his use of photographic sources.13 Twelve members of the royal family were painted in minute detail from photographic portraits (Fig. 4). As Camm suggested, close relationships can be seen with contemporary photographs: for example, the head and torso of the Prince of Wales is very close to an image by W. & D. Downey (Fig. 5).

Fig. 4
Fig. 4

T. W. Camm for Winfield and Co., detail of jubilee panel, north aisle window, Great Malvern Priory, 1887. Published with the kind permission of Great Malvern Priory.

Fig. 5
Fig. 5

Carte de visite portrait of the Prince of Wales, late nineteenth-century print after an original by W. & D. Downey of c. 1887. Private collection.

The complex interplay of influences acting upon the window can be sensed in a description in the Birmingham Daily Post:

The treatment [of the window] is modern, as distinguished from the mediaeval style affected by the school of Pugin, and makes large demands upon the draughtsman’s art; but there is no lack of reverence or scholarship in the work, and it is free from the soulless realism of so many modern windows which profess to illustrate religious subjects without a particle of religious feeling. The difficulties of blending the worldly and religious elements involved, of harmonising Church and State, and of imparting an appropriate ecclesiastical tone to incidents of modern Court ceremonial […] have been very skilfully surmounted by the artist. (‘The Priory Church, Malvern’, p. 5)

The window had to be modern enough to be distinguished from the Gothic Revival style but traditional enough to retain scholarly and reverential credentials. The urge to be both ‘modern’ and ‘worldly’ while retaining ‘religious feeling’ and an ‘ecclesiastical tone’ points towards Camm’s attempts to integrate photographic imagery within the medievalist medium, one of the most distinctive features of the window and a subject worth considering in detail.

Photography, stained glass, remediation

Victorian stained glass and photography have more in common than might initially be apparent. Their emergence coincided quite closely: both became increasingly evident during the 1840s and widely accessible in the 1850s. The commercial reach of English photography was restricted in the 1840s by the technical difficulty of producing daguerreotypes and the commercial restrictions that William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877) placed upon the calotype process.14 Stained glass in the 1840s was a subject of enthusiasm among antiquarians and ecclesiologists but, like the newer medium, was still only produced by a relatively small number of specialist practitioners. Photography’s expansion in the 1850s was stimulated by the development of the wet collodion process perfected and made publicly available by Frederick Scott Archer (1813–1857) in 1851.15 Based on creating prints from glass negatives, this process became the dominant photographic technique for three decades. By the mid-1850s the stained glass industry, too, had matured: ‘antique glass’ specially made for glass painting was available in an increasing range of colours, and skill levels had risen through a decade of apprenticeships within stained glass ateliers. Photographic images and stained glass windows were both commercially available and popular by the mid-1850s, and, perhaps more surprisingly, were both made by amateurs as well as professionals.16

Glass and its material properties were fundamental to both photography and stained glass. Glass lenses were a prerequisite for focusing images and glass plate negatives were used long after celluloid started to emerge in the 1880s. Both media relied on restricting the transparency of glass in order to create pictorial illusions: stained glass was painted to control transmitted light while the image captured on a glass negative restricted the light transmitted to photosensitive paper during the manufacture of a photographic print. Before collodion negatives were widely used for printing, the ‘glass positive’ or ‘Ambrotype’ enjoyed a brief popularity: this format used chemicals and a dark backing to turn the glass negative into a one-of-a-kind positive. In this instance the photographic object was itself glass (Rosenblum, p. 196).

A preoccupation with permanence pervaded both stained glass and photography. Beyond architecture and architectural sculpture, stained glass constituted perhaps the most public survival of medieval art and inspired advocates of Gothic to believe that the revival of the medium could create an artistic legacy for centuries to come. Photography was essentially the process that fixed the ephemeral imagery generated by an optical phenomenon that had been visible for centuries through the camera obscura. Photography was about harnessing a natural visual process and exploiting it for the contemporary world.

Early commercial ventures sometimes combined stained glass and photography in ways that hint at their convergence. Antoine Claudet (1797–1867) and George Houghton (b.1805?) were business partners between 1836 and 1867, the former famous as a photographic pioneer and the latter as a camera manufacturer. Claudet and Houghton exhibited both stained glass and photographs at the Great Exhibition of 1851: their advertisements in the Official Descriptive Catalogue promoted stained glass, glass shades, window glass, and Claudet’s daguerreotype portrait studios.17 Before moving to England in 1828, Claudet had co-directed the famous glassworks at Choisy-le-Roi near Paris with his wife’s cousin Georges Bontemps (1779–1883), described by Isobel Armstrong as ‘the great scholar-technician of glass making’.18 A political exile from 1848, Bontemps became an important figure at R. L. Chance’s glassworks at Smethwick, where he may have encountered Camm, the creator of the ‘Jubilee of the Nations’ window, who worked within the ‘ornamental department’ until 1865 (‘Camm’, Black Country History).

Detailed examination of the jubilee panel gives a sense of the impact of photography on stained glass. While it is clear that the photographic sources aid the individualization and demarcation of the figures, photography did far more than just create detail: it shifted the mode of representation. Face painting in stained glass was heavily influenced by the difficulty of shading: effective spatial recession and therefore illusionistic perspective required a lot of skill and a major investment of time. Due to these factors, traditional face painting in stained glass has a degree of linearity: the strong lines of nose, jaws, and brows are painted or ‘traced’ first as dark lines and then gradually softened with shading. This approach is evident in the coronation panel: the faces of Victoria and those surrounding her have been conceived and executed through linear ‘tracing’ softened with shading (see Fig. 3). The faces based on photographs have been conceived differently. The only really strong trace line in the face of the Prince of Wales is that of his nose (see Fig. 4). The rest of the face has been painted in a different manner: thin layers of enamel wash built up and then partially scratched out in order to create subtle effects conducive to naturalistic painting. As a consequence, the faces painted from photographs are operating within a different mode of representation: they appear to exist within an area of enhanced spatial illusionism.

The variation in the degree of illusionism was exacerbated by the fact that Camm was obliged to modify the angles of the photographic sources. Most of the photographs he used appear to have been cabinet cards or cartes de visite of individuals.19 The angle from which these photographs was taken would have been determined by the photographer. Camm’s problem was that all the figures in his panel needed to look in roughly the same direction: slightly down and towards the Archbishop of Canterbury in order to signify reverence for the ceremony. The individual photographic portraits cannot have been taken from the same angle and so Camm had to slightly modify the angle of each face. This modification is apparent when the photograph and stained glass portrait of the Prince of Wales are compared (see Figs. 45). A slight awkwardness of facial direction can be sensed throughout the image, creating an individualization that disrupts the coherence of the window. But the photographic sources were central to generating the ‘likeness’ normally understood as an essential feature of portraiture and allowed stained glass to absorb not only photography but its mode of representation.

The translation of photography into stained glass creates a material relationship between a modern visual technology and a medievalist medium: the old and new were literally and materially combined. This can usefully be thought of as ‘remediation’, a term borrowed from media studies and sometimes applied to nineteenth-century contexts.20 Remediation describes a process that attempts to create ‘immediacy’ through recycling existent media but, in doing so, draws attention to the nature of the medium.21 The tension between absorption of the message and consciousness of the medium generates contradiction, a characteristic all too apparent within this window. The lower three panels certainly aim at immediacy: they all depict very specific events, two in 1837 and one a few months before the window was unveiled. The first two panels depict pre-photographic events, while the third was decisively and explicitly influenced by photography. These three varieties of remediation pull the viewer in different directions. Reconfiguring three moments within the same medium arguably functions to homogenize them, but each appropriation leaves a signature: a missing hat, a lateral compression, and an enhanced sense of illusionism. The jubilee panel, a piece of very recent history, was conspicuous in its modernity, not just in relation to medievalism but in comparison to the events of 1837. Camm’s design appears to be the reproduction of an image but, in fact, as there were no photographs taken of the jubilee ceremony itself, the image has no original. The jubilee panel is a remediated photomontage rather than an adaptation of an existing source. This absence of the original and the contrasts evident across the three panels generate a keen sense of how visual technologies were transformed between Victoria’s accession and her Golden Jubilee.


The only sustained analysis of the role of stained glass in shaping ideas about race and empire is contained within Jasmine Allen’s recent monograph Windows for the World.22 Allen demonstrates how stained glass became associated with national schools and sometimes explicitly articulated international alliances (pp. 157–60). Many artists mapped imperial events onto biblical narratives while others approached racial difference obliquely through allegory, such as in the window by Charles-Laurent Maréchal (1801–1887) for the 1855 Paris exhibition, where nations were ‘given a unifying appearance through classicised allegorical figures with ethnographic-physiognomic visual traits’ (Allen, p. 169). Camm’s window is remarkable for its avoidance of these more conventional approaches: he chose to confront the representation of empire in a strikingly direct manner, a symptom of the extent to which imperial attitudes had expanded and intensified since the mid-nineteenth century.

The explanatory leaflet suggests that Camm was proud of the accuracy of what he described as ‘nationalities’: ‘the characteristics and details in each case have been carefully studied, so as to illustrate, as far as possible, each nationality.’ But just how he researched his national types is unclear. By the 1880s photography had become the dominant mode of recording and documenting imperial cultures. It seems likely that Camm relied on photographs for the upper section as well, although the visual sources for his national types remain unknown, and some figures have clear resonances with abolitionist imagery.23 Some sense of how the artist researched his subject matter can be found in the Camm studio archive, although for the most part it does not cover the period when he worked for Winfield and Co. One sketchbook has a list of what he describes as ‘Colonial Possessions’ which appears to be part of his research for the content of the window and might have been taken from an exhibition catalogue or a map.24 Isolated ‘possessions’ such as ‘Gibraltar’, ‘Heligoland’, and ‘Malta & Gozo’ precede four major headings: ‘America’, ‘Africa’, ‘Asia’, and ‘Australia’. Almost all the ‘dominions’ in the window have been selected from the list.25 Another sketchbook that does not seem to relate directly to this window gives hints as to Camm’s research process: one sketch labelled ‘Indian tiles from the ruin of Gaur Bengal’ is almost certainly a drawing of an object now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, while another sketch is labelled ‘Indian Carpet’.26 The inclusion of some colonial subjects can be attributed to contemporaneous events: for example, Heligoland (a small island off the north coast of Germany) was the subject of rivalry between Britain and Germany in the 1880s, which might have caught the attention of Camm or his patron. This topical inclusion, however, made the imagery of the window inaccurate just three years later when Heligoland was ceded to Germany as part of the Heligoland–Zanzibar treaty of 1890.27 In this sense, the window inadvertently highlights the hubris and instability, rather than the permanence, of British territorial possessions. In this instance (and arguably in the window as a whole) the permanence of stained glass makes the imagery all the more striking: this is not an ephemeral illustration or photograph conveniently hidden away in a Victorian periodical, but a work of art still on display in a public building.

To some extent, the way that empire is represented in the window is the result of the idiosyncratic visual properties of stained glass. As this medium works through transmitted rather than reflected light, it is particularly well placed to take advantage of massed colourful detail. Despite the misleading label (‘stained glass’), most of the colour in a window such as this is not created through staining — it is ‘pot metal’ glass, coloured while still molten. As a consequence, many of the changes in colour within the window are punctuated with a dark line: a strip of lead (or ‘calme’) that joins different pieces of pot metal together. There are some important exceptions to this rule. Red pot metal would be too dark to let any light through, so red glass needs to be ‘flashed’: the sheets of glass are blown in such a way that the resulting sheet is clear, with only a thin layer of red on the surface. Although flashing adds complexity to the manufacturing process, it has the benefit of extending chromatic possibilities: the red flashing can be scratched or etched off to achieve red and clear on the same piece of glass without the encumbrance of a leadline. Flashed and etched red glass was used in the New Zealander’s cloak and the headdresses of the ‘Fijian’ and the ‘North American Indian’. Camm also used flashed and etched blue glass to add decorative interest to the garments of the ‘West Indian Planter’, the ‘Chinaman’, and the ‘Burman’. Some of these sections were embellished further with silver stain, meaning that red, clear, and yellow or blue, clear, and yellow could be achieved on one piece of glass. Although it was technically possible to paint a piece of clear glass with different enamel colours, this detracts from transparency: to achieve the sparkling jewel-like effects that medievalists enjoyed in stained glass, Camm had to employ these labour-intensive processes. The effects were noted by a journalist from the Birmingham Daily Post, who commented that the window was ‘rich in detail, and chaste and harmonious in colouring’, thus linking the accumulated detail and chromatic structures that generate much of the window’s appeal (‘The Priory Church, Malvern, p. 5).

In contrast to media such as sculpture, choices relating to colour in stained glass are unusually visible, and as black precludes representation in a medium based on transmitted light, how the artist depicts skin colour is immediately apparent.28 The central figure of Christ is conspicuously white; this brightness is echoed in the faces of ‘Great Britain’, ‘Burman’, ‘Arab from Aden’, ‘Canadian’, and ‘North American Indian’, which have been painted on clear pot metal and shaded with brown enamel. The ‘Heligolander’ and ‘West Indian Planter’ have been painted on pot metal with a yellow-brown tint. A dark pot metal has been used for ‘New Zealander’, ‘Chinaman’, ‘West Indian Negro’, and ‘African (West)’. Once again contemporaneous political events may have influenced the imagery of the window. Anglo-French rivalry in the 1880s led to the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885; although the conflict was theoretically over within three weeks, fighting continued for another decade.29 In 1886 Myanmar or ‘British Burma’ was annexed and designated a province of the British Indian Empire (Taylor, p. 73). Given the currency of these events, it is possible that the vertical line up the centre of the right-hand light deliberately creates a relationship between England, India, and Burma. The kneeling figure of the ‘Hindoo’ (India) directly below the ‘Burman’, and mirroring the ‘Englishman’ in the opposite light (also kneeling), are linked by comparatively light skin tones. The ‘Chinaman’, directly above the ‘Burman’, is demarcated from the England–India–Burma trio by his surprisingly dark skin tone, which makes this figure visually more akin to the ‘New Zealander’ above.

Apart from in the Africans’ skin tones, the most conspicuous use of dark pot metal in the window is in the cloak of ‘Great Britain’, but this is not an equivalence, as the tonal contrasts within these figures are inverted: the white face and dark clothing of ‘Great Britain’ reverses the dark skin and lighter clothing of the Africans. These figures are further demarcated through the amount of skin exposed: only the Africans and the ‘Fijian’ have their shoulders bare, the former far more conspicuously foregrounded in the image. This relative nakedness is arguably a sign of the primitivism detected by other commentators in the depiction of figures with open mouths (Allen, p. 170). The kneeling posture of the ‘West Indian Negro’ is a clear reference to typical abolitionist depictions of the freed slave, a link underlined by the descriptive text which describes the figure as ‘Liberated’.30 As Richard Huzzey has demonstrated, the link between the liberated slave and imperial expansion was pervasive: the idea of the British Empire as a province of freedom provided paradoxical justification for its further expansion.31

In the context of the exotic colours, patterns, and textures of the imperial types, the figure of ‘Great Britain’ is notable for its plainness: bareheaded, he wears a white shirt under a dark cloak trimmed with brown fur, the only set of garments in the entire image lacking pattern and bright colour. This contrast is accentuated by its structural relationship to the ‘Hindoo’, who is clothed in an ornate white garment and wears necklaces and a jewelled headdress. ‘Great Britain’ is differentiated from the colonial nations through the absence of ostentation or conspicuous display of wealth, a marked contrast to the compendium of sparkling orientalist detail evident throughout the image. An Englishman offering a Bible to Christ not only cements the centrality of Christianity to national self-perceptions but also taps into a dense web of imagery about missionary activity, the propagation of the Bible throughout the empire and, in an Anglican building, the attempt to propagate the Church of England across the globe.32 The masculine restraint of the Englishman’s dress is a visual sign of the implicitly effeminate or perhaps even childish exoticism of the colonial nations, a superiority dramatically enacted through the visual and chromatic contrasts available to the late-Victorian glass painter.


Stained glass was (and still is) a medium most people associate with the Middle Ages. Despite attempts to realign it with the aesthetics of oil painting in the eighteenth century, the nineteenth-century revival of stained glass was driven by the desire for medieval art and the scale of Victorian church building, both stimulated by the Gothic Revival.33 From the early Victorian period, Gothic Revival architecture also became strongly associated with colonial expansion. Alex Bremner has demonstrated that building medieval-style churches had a major impact on Anglican imperial expansion: churches became ‘both a symbol and a mechanism of societal identity and change’.34 Bremner argues that churches performed a symbolic role in imperial contexts and that the values of ‘chasteness, simplicity, solidity, mass and permanence were given precedence’ (p. 68). While a stained glass window installed in a provincial English location is clearly very different, the ‘Jubilee of the Nations’ window was arguably part of the same mentality and drew upon the values of ‘chasteness’ and ‘permanence’: the sense of purity and the feeling of historical continuity that medievalists sought to create. The site of the window is therefore crucial. It was installed in a church that retains one of the great collections of late-medieval stained glass, a feature readily apparent to those describing the newly unveiled window: ‘the colouring had been made to harmonise nicely with the other stained glass in the church’ (‘The Priory Church, Malvern’, p. 5). The dedication of the window came with a clear sense of its integration into the medieval building: ‘I commit it [the window] in the name of the donor to the faithful guardianship of the Vicar and Churchwardens of this parish of Great Malvern.’35 These words underline how the window became part of the medieval building; through the dedication service, it became part of the cultural inheritance of medieval England, an assimilation into the physical legacy of the Middle Ages.

Despite the ‘modern’ features of the window, it made stylistic concessions to Gothic: the figure groups in the window are all framed by canopies and borders, faux-architectural frameworks typical of the late-medieval style. The imagery in the upper section of the window has strong resonances with medieval iconography, relating particularly to the conventions of the Ascension or the Transfiguration. The posture and grouping of the figures also resonates strongly with the Adoration of the Magi, which, as noticed by other scholars, has a long history of modelling the relationship between Africa, Asia, and Europe through Christian imagery (Allen, p. 170). The hierarchy noticed by other critics is prominent in this image: the principal worshipper is British, while the two Africans occupy less important roles within the composition. In addition, the ‘Arab from Aden’ holds an incense censer, a traditional iconographical symbol for Asia, suggesting that the visual links between this image and the Adoration of the Magi were deliberate.

One of the ways that the Gothic Revival generated a sense of historical continuity was through accurate recreation of medieval ornament and details. Antiquarians would record, draw, and publish Gothic details which could then be considered as authentic examples of a particular period, and antiquarian studies of stained glass became widespread from the 1840s.36 By the 1880s not many patrons were interested in accurate imitation, but the ‘Jubilee of the Nations’ window still draws upon antiquarian authority in several ways. In the lower section the contribution of the Garter Principal King of Arms was made very clear in the coronation panel, while the paintings and photographs function as a contemporary variety of visual research: a mutation of medieval antiquarianism within which remediation transformed and modernized the Gothic paradigm. The ‘gathering of all nations’ in the upper section of the window participates in another variety of scholarship. The accuracy of the national types was attributed to the notion of ‘careful’ study, implying an equivalence between researching the ceremonial detail of the lower panels and the national characteristics of the upper section. The implication here is that the process of representing colonial cultures is analogous to recording the details of royal ceremony: the accumulation of authenticated details somehow enabled a valid representation of British imperial subjects. Just as providential readings of biblical passages justified imperial expansion, the aesthetic values, imagery, and methodologies of medievalism combined to create a vision of empire that borrowed authenticity and authority from medievalism and the physical fabric of Anglican Christianity.


The creation of the ‘Jubilee of the Nations’ window was a collective process. The patron probably determined the overall subject matter, while clergymen from Great Malvern Priory would almost certainly have had some input into the iconography. Camm would have translated the concept and iconography into imagery and overseen the technical processes that allowed the imagery to be realized in glass. In two instances there was evidence of royal involvement: during celebratory speeches after the dedication service, one speaker revealed that Queen Victoria had been shown a preparatory drawing and ‘had expressed her admiration of the design of the window’ (‘The Priory Church, Malvern’, p. 5), while the explanatory leaflet claimed that the photographic portraits had been ‘furnished, in some cases by Their Royal Highnesses’.

An industrial mentality is implicit in the window’s hierarchy of production (gatherer–farmer–producer–industrialist) which would appear to be linked to the culture of Atkins and his staff at Winfield and Co.37 If British superiority was rooted in industrial development, Atkins and his colleagues could understand their working lives as fundamental to the development of the empire: operations like the Cambridge Street Works become central factors in imperial development rather than just provincial centres of industry. But both industrial superiority and imperial power could be seen as evidence of divine providence, a position implied through the selection of biblical quotations. If industrial and imperial power were both examples of God’s plan, a providential perspective might provide the logic for this visual celebration of just such an alliance.

Catherine Hall’s discussion of the development of Birmingham in the context of overseas expansion examines early anthropology and exhibitions of ‘other’ or ‘exotic cultures’, emphasizing the centrality of missionary enterprises to that imperial culture.38 In this context it is interesting to speculate on the extent to which Camm’s ‘Jubilee of the Nations’ window can be seen as a part of this process. The installation of this window added to the reservoir of cultural material that influenced the perception of empire, while its integration into the narratives made available by medievalism arguably cemented and accentuated its influence.

The marked contrast between the different elements of the window is the consequence of the different processes used to generate the imagery. The upper section uses a composition with structural similarities to iconographical set pieces such as the Adoration, Ascension, and Transfiguration. Within this structure a generalized typology of nations is depicted through a series of ‘carefully studied’ figures. The nations are demarcated through skin colour and ethnic dress, and their status is signalled through their position within the composition. In this section the artist’s research has influenced the details but not the overall structure of the image. The lower panels use a different logic, each taking their compositional cues from pre-existing secular images. Although all three panels remediate external imagery, the explanatory leaflet acknowledges only the photographs and the sketch of the coronation footstool. Despite the homogeneity generated by the medium and the medieval canopies and borders, the different processes used in the creation of panels are immediately apparent. Using ideas like remediation forces us to engage with these processes and to understand the design of stained glass as one discipline in dialogue with other media. Understanding the technical capabilities and techniques of stained glass is crucial, but it is just as important to see it as one medium competing for credibility and attention within the rapidly changing visual culture of the late nineteenth century. Studying a medium in isolation is problematic and, as a recent collection of essays about photography has done, we should arguably acknowledge stained glass as part of ‘an integrated field of technologies, systems and artifacts that can only be studied in its entirety’.39


  1. Tim Barringer, Geoff Quilley, and Douglas Fordham, ‘Introduction’, in Art and the British Empire, ed. by Tim Barringer, Geoff Quilley, and Douglas Fordham (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007), pp. 1–19 (p. 3). [^]
  2. For exhibitions, see Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past, ed. by Alison Smith, David Blayney Brown, and Carol Jacobi (London: Tate, 2015); for an approach combining sculpture with silver studies, see Jason Edwards, ‘The Relief of Lucknow: Henry Hugh Armstead’s Outram Shield (c. 1858–62)’, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 22 (2016) <>. [^]
  3. Description of the Stained Glass Window Presented to the Priory Church Malvern by James Atkins Esq., Smethwick, Sandwell Community History and Archives Service, BS/C19/23 (v). Both versions of this promotional leaflet are in the same envelope: the larger version contains two images comprising a key to the upper and lower sections of the window with explanatory text; the smaller version omits the images. All subsequent references to the window in quotations are from this source unless otherwise stated. [^]
  4. For Winfield and Co., see The Homes of our Metal Manufactures: Messrs R. W. Winfield and Co’s Cambridge Street Works and Rolling Mills, Birmingham, ed. by Christopher Hewitson, Birmingham Archaeology Monograph Series, 15 (Oxford: Archaeo, 2013), p. 157. For Camm, see ‘T. W. Camm, Stained Glass Artist, Smethwick’, Black Country History <> [accessed 26 April 2020]. Historians of stained glass tend to notice Camm only in the light of the extant archival deposit or the more celebrated windows of his daughter Florence Camm. See, for example, Martin Harrison, Victorian Stained Glass (London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1980), p. 11; Peter Cormack, Arts and Crafts Stained Glass (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015), p. 262; and The Homes of our Metal Manufactures, ed. by Hewitson, pp. 154–55. [^]
  5. Thomas Anderton, A Tale of One City: The New Birmingham: Papers Reprinted from the ‘Midland Counties Herald’ (Birmingham: Midland Counties Herald Office, 1900). [^]
  6. See Stewart J. Brown, Providence and Empire: Religion, Politics and Society in the United Kingdom, 1815–1914 (London: Longman, 2008). [^]
  7. Gareth Atkins, ‘“Isaiah’s Call to England”: Doubts about Prophecy in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, Studies in Church History, 52 (2016), 381–97. [^]
  8. The painting is now in the Tate collection (NO1919). [^]
  9. J. D. Milner, rev. by V. Remington, ‘Wells, Henry Tanworth (1828–1903)’, ODNB <>. This version of the painting is now in the Royal Collection (RCIN406996). [^]
  10. ‘The Priory Church, Malvern’, Birmingham Daily Post, 16 December 1887, p. 5. [^]
  11. This painting is now in the collections of Bradford Museums. [^]
  12. Thomas Woodcock, ‘Woods, Sir Albert William (1816–1904)’, ODNB <>. [^]
  13. Jim Cheshire, Stained Glass and the Victorian Gothic Revival (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004), p. 167. [^]
  14. Naomi Rosenblum, A World History of Photography, 3rd edn (New York: Abbeville, 1997), p. 29. [^]
  15. Martin Barnes, ‘Archer, Frederick Scott (1813–1857)’, in Encyclopaedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, ed. by John Hannavy (London: Routledge, 2008), pp. 55–57. [^]
  16. For amateur stained glass, see Jim Cheshire, ‘Fashioning Church Interiors: The Importance of Female Amateur Designers’, in Material Religion in Modern Britain: The Spirit of Things, ed. by Timothy Willem Jones and Lucinda Matthews-Jones (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 77–99. See also Tom Küpper’s article in this issue of 19. [^]
  17. Claudet and Houghton’s window was in Class 24, no. 74. See Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue, 5 vols (London: Spicer Brothers, 1851), ii, 706. For advertisements, see ‘Official Illustrated Catalogue Advertiser’, in Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue, i, 65. [^]
  18. Isobel Armstrong, Victorian Glassworlds: Glass Culture and the Imagination 1830–1880 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 47; Laura Claudet, ‘Claudet, Antoine Francois Jean (1797–1867)’, in Encyclopaedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, ed. by Hannavy, pp. 302–04; Gordon Campbell, ‘Bontemps, George [sic]’, Grove Art Online <>. [^]
  19. The portrait of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (directly above the Prince of Wales in the upper row of Fig. 3), is almost certainly derived from a cabinet card, a copy of which is in the National Portrait Gallery (NPG x8752). The photographers cited as sources were all well known for commercial portraiture. [^]
  20. See Mediation, Remediation, and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory, ed. by Astrid Erll and Ann Rigney (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2009); and Alison Hedley, ‘Advertisements, Hyper-Reading, and Fin-de-Siècle Consumer Culture in the Illustrated London News and the Graphic’, Victorian Periodicals Review, 51 (2018), 138–67. The term originates from Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999). [^]
  21. Astrid Erll and Ann Rigney, ‘Introduction’, in Mediation, Remediation, and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory, ed. by Erll and Rigney, pp. 1–11 (pp. 3–4). [^]
  22. Jasmine Allen, Windows for the World: Nineteenth-Century Stained Glass and the International Exhibitions, 1851–1900 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018). [^]
  23. See, for example, Wedgwood’s famous medallion at the Victoria and Albert Museum (mus. no. 414:1304-1885). In 1855 the East India Company sent a dispatch requiring that draughtsmen be replaced with photographers in the project of the ‘delineation of antiquities of Western India’. See Sean Willcock, ‘The Aesthetics of Imperial Crisis Image-Making and Intervention in British India, c. 1857–1919’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of York, 2013), p. 27. For an overview of the role of nineteenth-century photography in the construction of racial knowledge, see Eleanor M. Hight and Gary D. Sampson, ‘Introduction: Photography, “Race”, and Post-Colonial Theory’, in Colonialist Photography: Imag(in)ing Race and Place, ed. by Eleanor M. Hight and Gary D. Sampson (Abingdon: Routledge, 2004), pp. 1–19. [^]
  24. T. W. Camm, Sketchbook, Sandwell Community History and Archives Service, BS-C/17/2, pp. 39–40. [^]
  25. Fiji does not appear in the list but ‘Rotuma’, an island off Fiji, does. Burma is not listed: this constitutes the only notable absence. [^]
  26. Sandwell Community History and Archives Service, BS-C/17/4, pp. 9–10, 12; Victoria and Albert Museum (mus. no. IM564-1924). This object was transferred to this collection in 1879 from the India Museum, which had in turn been lent the object by the Royal Asiatic Society. [^]
  27. Jan Rüger, Heligoland: Britain, Germany, and the Struggle for the North Sea (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). [^]
  28. Allen, p. 174; for sculpture’s lack of colours, see Edwards. [^]
  29. Robert H. Taylor, ‘British Policy towards Myanmar and the Creation of the “Burma Problem”’, in Myanmar: State, Society and Ethnicity, ed. by N. Ganesan and Kyaw Yin Hlaing (Singapore: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, 2007), pp. 70–95 (p. 74). [^]
  30. Lynda Nead, ‘The Secret of England’s Greatness’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 19 (2014), 161–82 (p. 164). [^]
  31. Richard Huzzey, Freedom Burning: Anti-Slavery and Empire in Victorian Britain (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012). [^]
  32. See Hilary M. Carey, ‘“The Secret of England’s Greatness”: Medievalism, Ornithology, and Anglican Imperialism in the Aboriginal Gospel Book of Sir George Carey’, Journal of Victorian Culture, 16 (2011), 323–46; see also, Chosen Peoples: The Bible, Race and Empire in the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. by Gareth Atkins, Shinjini Das, and Brian H. Murray (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020). [^]
  33. For the aesthetics of eighteenth-century stained glass, see Sarah Frances Baylis, ‘Glass-Painting in Britain, c. 1760–c. 1840: A Revolution in Taste’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Cambridge, 1989). [^]
  34. G. A. Bremner, Imperial Gothic: Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire c. 1840–1870 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013), p. 366. [^]
  35. ‘Unveiling of a Jubilee Memorial Window at Malvern’, Berrow’s Worcester Journal, 17 December 1887, p. 4. [^]
  36. For antiquarianism, see Chris Brooks, The Gothic Revival (London: Phaidon, 1999), p. 161; for Victorian studies of medieval stained glass, see Cheshire, Stained Glass, pp. 17–24, and Sarah Brown’s article in this issue of 19. [^]
  37. Allen has identified two interesting precedents here: Sir Samuel Morton Peto’s patronage of the ‘Hail Happy Union’ window for the Paris exhibition of 1855, and the logic of Maréchal’s allegorical window of 1855, which privileged France and Britain on the basis of their industrial prowess (pp. 157–59, 168). [^]
  38. Catherine Hall, Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830–1867 (London: Polity, 2002), pp. 274–81. [^]
  39. Nicoletta Leonardi and Simone Natale, ‘Introduction’, in Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century, ed. by Nicoletta Leonardi and Simone Natale (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2018), pp. 1–12 (p. 1). [^]