Lawrence Lee: Stained-glass artist acclaimed for his work on Coventry Cathedral

Lawrence Lee was a stained-glass artist whose work brought light and colour to churches and cathedrals around the world, including remarkable large-scale projects at Coventry, Southwark and Guildford.

Lee was born in London in 1909, grew up in Weybridge and studied at Kingston School of Art. He graduated in 1930 from the Royal College of Art, where he studied under Martin Travers, another of the great stained-glass artists of the 20th century, and became his studio assistant. Travers had an enormous influence on Lee and his contemporaries in combining modernism with glass-making traditions dating back to the Middle Ages. Lee remained linked to the RCA, later becoming its Head of Stained Glass (1948-1968), following in Travers' footsteps.

In 1956 the architect Sir Basil Spence commissioned stained-glass windows as part of the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by wartime bombing in 1940. Spence took a holistic approach, noting in an academic paper at the time that, "I am against the inclusion of stained glass as an afterthought, and I believe that the architect as leader of the team should collaborate at the earliest possible stage with his engineers and artists." Lee was one of three glass artists who designed the series of 10 nave windows, representing a pilgrimage through life, from infancy to maturity and fulfilment in the afterworld. John Willis, archivist and art historian at Coventry Cathedral, observes that "...Lee, with the two other members of the team, Keith New and Geoffrey Clarke, created a symbolic language of colour and light, combining figurative motifs and abstract forms in a way that is at once beautiful and spiritually moving in its expression of the Christian message."

Coventry established Lee's reputation and led to a wide range of projects, nationally and internationally. The magnificent three-panel south window of Southwark Cathedral's retrochoir was completed by Lee in 1959. The brief in this case was to show scenes from the history and rebuilding of the cathedral. Lee's designs represent religious figures but also craftsmen, such as a carpenter and a glazier on a ladder, providing a striking tribute to the builder Thomas Rider, who had funded an earlier reconstruction of the nave in 1895.

Lee was a skilled practitioner, theoretician and teacher who never lost sight of the need to pass on his immense knowledge to the next generation of glaziers, through formal education and in a series of three books on the subject. Stained Glass (1967) was published by Oxford University Press in its Handbooks for Artists series. Aware of the needs of conservation in stained-glass work, and ever conscious of the possibilities of modern technologies in his art, he made a practical plea to scientists in this text, asking for help in researching "...the use of modern industrial resins in the services of art and architecture where rather different problems occur from those that have been already solved for industry." His advice to students included the wise words that images of doves in stained glass, representing the Holy Spirit, should not look like stuffed pigeons.

He followed his first book with Stained Glass, An Illustrated Guide to the World of Stained Glass (1976), in conjunction with George Seddon and Francis Stephens and The Appreciation of Stained Glass (1977), which concentrated less on the pedagogy and more on the history and enjoyment of the art.

Lee's creations in glass were not restricted to religious settings. For example, he also produced abstract designs of windows for the Royal Society of Chemistry at Burlington House and a panel for the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass (1975).

In 1974 he was elected Master of the Worshipful Company of Stained Glass Artists, and was a Fellow of the British Society of Master Glass Painters. Never forgetting his own time as an artist's assistant, Lee was one of the few glaziers to recognise the work of his assistants by including their initials within his own monogram signature.

Lawrence Lee, stained-glass artist: born London 18 September 1909; married 1940 Dorothy (two sons); died 25 April 2011.

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?