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Design for stained glass

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    c.1917 (drawn)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Davis, Louis B. (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    pencil, black chalk, grey wash, paper, drawing

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case KK, shelf 19

Louis Davis was born in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Nothing is known of his early training but he developed a particular talent as a watercolourist and book-illustrator. He began working in the 1880s for the English Illustrated Magazine as well as producing watercolours that were published by the Fitzroy Picture Society and the Medici Society. In 1891 he became one of the earliest pupils of the stained glass artist Christopher Whall (1849-1924), with whom he lodged at his home in Dorking, Surrey.

Davis worked with Lowndes and Drury and became a key figure in the group around Whall. Although he had been a member of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour, he provoked controversy for flouting the boundaries of genre when he exhibited a stained glass design as a watercolour. As a consequence he resigned his membership (in around 1910 or 1911) and thereafter focused on being a stained glass painter. He also taught at the Central School of Arts & Crafts.

Davis usually completed commissions entirely himself, and he had no pupils, only one craftsman who assisted him. He was so successful that by 1900 his designs were made up by James Powell and Sons of Whitefriars, London.

Davis both knew and was strongly influenced by William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Nikolaus Pevsner described him as ‘the last Pre-Raphaelite’.

Davis received many commissions from the architect Sir Robert Lorimer. Amongst these was a stained glass scheme for the choir of Dunblane Cathedral, which he carried out from 1917. This stained glass design for a lancet window is from this cycle, and depicts the ‘Nunc Dimittis’. Comparison with the finished window shows it was carried out in accordance with this design – the windows were made by Powell & Sons, and executed by Thomas Cowell (1870-1949). A label on the reverse of the frame notes that the full-size window was enlarged from the design by photography. This was a widely used technique– we have other examples in the collection of designs on photographic paper, including by Edward Burne Jones

Physical description

Cartoon for a stained glass window drawn in black chalk, pencil and grey wash on paper.

Place of Origin

England (made)


c.1917 (drawn)


Davis, Louis B. (artist)

Materials and Techniques

pencil, black chalk, grey wash, paper, drawing


Height: 76 cm, Width: 17 cm

Descriptive line

Cartoon by Louis B. Davis for a stained glass lancet window in the choir at Dunblane Cathedral, depicting a scene from the 'Nunc Dimittis'. Black chalk, pencil and grey wash, c.1917


Black chalk; Grey wash; Pencil; Paper




Stained Glass; Designs; Ecclesiastical Art/Craft; Religion; Drawings

Production Type



Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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