Espying Heaven: The Stained Glass of Charles Eamer Kempe and his Artists

By Adrian Barlow

A lavishly-illustrated exploration of the work of the Victorian church artist Charles Eamer Kempe and the team of artists he led and inspired.

ISBN: 9780718894641


Espying Heaven presents the first full-scale and full-colour survey of the achievement of Charles Eamer Kempe (1837-1907), the outstanding stained-glass designer of his era, and his Studio. From the start, Kempe gathered around him a close-knit team of artists and craftsmen who together developed his vision of a distinctive aesthetic setting for worship based on late medieval art, especially the stained glass of northern Europe. This book illustrates the evolution of ‘the Kempe style’ and allows readers to judge for themselves the extent to which C.E. Kempe & Co. (1907-1934), set up by Kempe himself, succeeded in working within the tradition established by his founding artists.

This book is intended as a companion to Adrian Barlow’s biographical study Kempe: The Life, Art and Legacy of Charles Eamer Kempe (The Lutterworth Press, 2018). In its own right, however, Espying Heaven both documents and celebrates a style of church art and decoration that has had a defining influence upon the Anglican Church worldwide. It highlights key features of Kempe glass, exploring questions of representation, symbolism and technique and suggesting new ways of ‘reading’ a Kempe window.

With photography by Alastair Carew-Cox.

Additional information

Dimensions 254 × 189 mm
Pages 144
Illustrations b&w and colour

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Trade Information LGEN

About the Author

Adrian Barlow writes and lectures on literature, architecture and stained glass. A Fellow and former President of the English Association, his books include World and Time: Teaching Literature in Context, Extramural: Literature and Lifelong Learning (Lutterworth Press, 2012), and Kempe: The Life, Art and Legacy of Charles Eamer Kempe (Lutterworth Press, 2018).


List of Illustrations
Foreword and Acknowledgements

1. Kempe and the Kempe Studio
     Charles Eamer Kempe
     Alfred Edward Tombleson
     Wyndham Hope Hughes
     John Thomas Carter
     John William Lisle
     Walter Ernest Tower

2. Style and Techniques
     Reading a Kempe Window
     The Evolution of the Kempe Style
     A Note on Silver Staining

3. Themes and Subjects
     Allegorical and Symbolic Figures: The Virtues
     Jesse Tree Windows

4. The Life of Christ
     The Annunciation
     The Nativity and Early Childhood of Christ
     The Passion and Crucifixion

5. Gallery
     St Michael and St George
     Adam and Eve
     King Solomon
     Disciples and Apostles
     Saints: St Stephen
     Saints: St Catherine and St Margaret

6. Espying Heaven
     Kempe and George Herbert
     Kempe at Southwark Cathedral



Endorsements and Reviews

Until very recently there has been little written about either Charles Eamer Kempe or his successor Studio, C.E. Kempe and Co. First, there was a personal account by the late Margaret Stavridi (Master of Glass, 1988) and now in the space of a year two substantial books by Adrian Barlow. His second volume, Espying Heaven: The Stained Glass of Charles Eamer Kempe and his Artists, makes evident the sheer quality, colour and richness of their work through a selection of windows and details in superb photographs by Alastair Carew-Cox.
Dr Donald Buttress LVO, OBE

Espying Heaven is well set out, easy to read and includes many wonderful photographs. The signatures and monograms for Kempe, Tombleson and Tower windows are beautifully illustrated. This book is a valued addition to my library and will be travelling with me on my visits to Kempe-decorated churches. I highly recommend Adrian Barlow’s work!
Geoffrey C. Bond OBE, FSA, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass

This is fascinating.
Peter Howell, in The Art Newspaper, No 313, June 2019

There is no question about the debt which all lovers of stained glass owe to Adrian Barlow for this volume and [Kempe: The Life, Art and Legacy of Charles Eamer Kempe] Whether the Kempe style appeals to you or not, once you have read this study you will never look casually at a Kempe window again. … Beyond question it is a book to buy and treasure.
Barry A Orford, in New Directions, March 2020

… clearly wrtten, exhaustively researched, strong on descriptive and biographical detail, generously illustrated, and with a very useful gazetteer locating most of Kempe’s oeuvre, at £25 it is also exceptionally good value.
Graham Howes, in Theology, Vol 122, No 4

[Barlow] provides his readers with … a deeper understanding of a central figure of British stained glass.
Vidimus, Vol 132, 2020

The book does undoubtedly have a significant value for its illustrations, which provide a fairly comprehensive visual record of stylistic and iconographic developments (or sometimes the lack of them) in the Kempe studio’s oeuvre from 1868, when the enterprise began, until its closure in 1934. This is a valuable study, admirably well-researches and presented. It is also (which is rarer) an enjoyable read.Michael Kerney, The Journal of Stained Glass, Volume XLII,2018