1839 - 1927
Study for Church Stained Glass Window

Pencil and coloured pencil on paper laid down on canvas
Image size: 69 x 22 3/4 inches (177.5 x 58 cm)
Original frame

Inscription of art suppliers Marion & Co. on reverse canvas overlap
Remnants of museum loan label

Allegory has been widely used throughout the histories of all forms of art for its ability to illustrate complex ideas that are easily digestible and tangible. Allegorical subjects were frequently painted from the Renaissance until the 19th century. Since allegorical figures were also painted, sometimes in series, each figure came to represent, for example, one of the Liberal Arts of the Virtues. Here the allegorical figure personifies the abstract concept of The Arts in its entirety, symbolised by the pen and tablet in hand and dove sitting delicately on the women’s shoulder.

This drawing is a study for a stained glass window created by Holiday for the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, a blocky and squat building designed by the architect Frank Furness. This was a memorial window for Sarah Crawford Clark.

Previously, Holiday was commissioned by Furness to design a large memorial window dedicated to his mother for the church’s east transept. In this earlier stained glass window Mrs Furness was represented as an allegorical figure of Charity.

Shortly following this, in 1886, Holiday was requested to create a memorial for Sarah Crawford Clark, ordered by her husband Enoch Clark. The records show that the instructions for this window was for ‘Flesh not strong as in Miss Barton’s window, more to nature and not white’, in reference to the first stained glass window installed in the church, a work designed by E. J. Poynter and an example of stained glass that Holiday abhorred. The Barton window is very dark and suffers from the use of heavy white enamel-like paint that was common among windows at this time. Part of Holiday’s design for his window to memorialise Sarah Crawford Clark can be seen in this study. This design can be seen, to this day, in the top right portion of the stained glass window in the church in Philadelphia.


Henry George Holiday was a British historical genre and landscape painter, stained-glass designer, illustrator and sculptor. He is part of the Pre-Raphaelite school of art.

Holiday was born in London. He showed an early aptitude for art and was given lessons by William Cave Thomas. He attended Leigh’s art academy and in 1855, at the age of 15, was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools. Through his friendship with Albert Moore and Simeon Solomon he was introduced to the artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This movement was to be pivotal in his future artistic and political life.

Holiday worked in both oils and watercolours. In 1858, his first picture, a landscape painting, was exhibited at the Royal Academy and immediately sold; from that year his work was frequently shown at the Academy and elsewhere. In 1861, Holiday accepted the position of stained glass window designer for Powell’s Glass Works, after Burne-Jones had left to work for Morris & Co. During his time there he fulfilled over 300 commissions, mostly for customers in the United States. He left in 1891 to set up his own glass works in Hampstead, producing stained glass, mosaics, enamels and sacerdotal objects. Holiday’s stained glass work can be found all over Britain, including Worcester College in Oxford and Westminster Abbey.

Holiday had been a socialist throughout his life and, together with his wife Kate and daughter Winifred, supported the Suffragette movement. The family were close acquaintances of Myra Sadd Brown and Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter, and had organised local suffragette meetings in the Lake District.

Holiday died on 15 April 1927 in London, two years after his wife, Kate.