Provenance and analysis – JL003

The church this glass was extracted from is dated 1890.  It was a Swedenborgian church on Devonshire Street, Keighley, BD21 2BL and is now an Islamic education centre.

Special thanks to Brent Elliott for providing me with the following comments:

The angels are portrayed with wings, unique-looking wings in an unusual colour: why? Swedenborg said they don’t have wings. Was the glass maker ignorant of the beliefs of the denomination he was catering for, or was there some special significance?

The two angels in the lower corners have individualised faces that look unusual for angels, but according to Swedenborg angels are in effect the spirits of the departed, when we die we become angels, so they could be particular individuals associated with the church (benefactors? Recently deceased stalwarts of the church?).  Also, the figure on the right in the left-hand panel (section C) has a very 19th-century look to his face and whiskers. Possible interpretation: Christ, after the resurrection, was recognised by a couple of disciples at Emmaus when he broke bread in a characteristic manner; one of the pair was named Cleopas, the other is not named; the left-hand panel shows Christ with two men, one of whom looks out of place; so the left-hand figure could be Cleopas and the right-hand figure the unnamed person, who is made to look “contemporary” so that he can stand for all men.

The quote from Colossians about “the fullness of the Godhead bodily” is important in Swedenborgianism, because Christ’s body was made of purely divine materials.

Much of the symbolism would be acceptable in any Christian church: alpha and omega, the Transfiguration, the recognition of Christ at Emmaus.  The major quotation is about the incarnation: “And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (split across panel D). “I am” (panel G) would not be a normal element in an Anglican or dissenting decorative scheme. Jehovah is a rendering of the Hebrew word YWHW, which translates as “I am that I am”

The architect John Haggas also designed Keighley Town Hall and industrial buildings in the town, in different styles: no stained glass maker known to be particularly associated with him.