Toby Gowing recently visited the Oude Kerk in Delft in order to study the stained glass windows of Joep Nicolas, who, as she says, “is someone I had never heard of until my recent interest in stained glass, an artist who should be famous for this work.” Her photos of these windows are so exquisite I asked her if I could share them here.
Joep Nicolas (1897-1972) was a third-generation glazier, learning his craft in the family studio founded by his grandfather in 1855. He was considered an innovator in glass painting during his lifetime. By the age of 25, he was creating professional church windows; at age 28 he had won a major prize at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris.
Nicolas lived in the United States from the start of WWII until 1958, and made 22 church windows here.
After his return to the Netherlands, he was commissioned to do the windows of the Oude Kerk. These windows are his most famous works.
“This is all glass, and everything that looks drawn or shaded is hand painted, said Gowing. “It has to be painted in a special process and then fired. Nicolas was a master of this process.”
Click on any image to enlarge:
|“The Beast and the Angels. Please remember that direct sunlight was not coming through this window – only ambient light shone through, yet the colors are rich.”|
“The Adam and Eve window is also organized in levels evoking the Creation, while the first couple stands surrounded by animals. The four rivers are being poured from vessels, and a wonderful spouting whale navigates the sea. Above Adam and Eve are the birds of the air.”
|“Beneath the sea, time advances and we have civilization.”|
|More detail of the sea.|
|“The four winds and the hand of God.”|
|“In addition to being the site of Joep Nicolas’ work, a great painter was buried here.”|
|“A detail from The Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse: the Pale Rider on a Pale Horse. This window was completed by Nicolas’ nephew after his death.”|
|“The Four Horsemen: white horse, red horse, black horse, pale horse. Magnificent composition.”|
“And here is where this incredible stained glass window resides. Above a bathroom placed in front so that you can only see this great work of art from a distance.”
“How many people have gone in there to see the Vermeer stone and never looked up?” asked Gowing. “Why build a bathroom directly in front of the second-greatest window in the Kerk? You literally cannot see the window up close. It is obviously a new bathroom meant for tourists. I suppose they couldn’t cut out the gift shop.”
“I wanted to learn more about Queen Wilhelmina. I found this picture of her on her post-war tour, acknowledging the salute of a Boy Scout Troop. Here is the Queen, dressed in the very clothing of the Liberation Window. The same hat, dark jacket, and fox fur, head and all, complete with a bouquet.”
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