OK

Caspar Gsell from St. Gallen: A pioneer of historicist stained glass in Paris

During the stylistic epoch of historicism, stained glass experienced an unexpected revival in connection with the neo-Gothic style. Caspar Gsell (1814–1904) from St. Gallen was the first Swiss artist to realize monumental stained glass in the 19th century. From the middle of the century he ran an internationally successful studio in Paris and by 1892 had furnished several hundred churches in France and surrounding countries with colored windows. His stained glass windows in the Church of St. Lawrence in St. Gallen and in the Basel Cathedral are among the most important works of historicism in Switzerland. In addition to his productivity and artistic versatility, Gsell was distinguished by an extraordinary talent for drawing, as evidenced by the sketches that have been preserved in the Musée Carnavalet in Paris, as well as the extant stained glass windows. The aim of the project is to acknowledge and make accessible the hitherto largely unexplored oeuvre of this pioneer and to contextualize it within the artistic evolutions of the 19th century. To this end, Gsell’s most important stained glass windows in Switzerland, France, and Belgium will be inventoried, as well as formal, iconographic, and technical aspects examined and archival documents evaluated.

See illustrations

Fig. 1: Stained glass window with scenes from the life of Christ in Basel Cathedral, Caspar Gsell, 1856, 325 x 122.5 cm. © Vitrocentre Romont, Katrin Kaufmann.

Fig. 2: Nativity, detail of a stained glass window in Basel Cathedral, Caspar Gsell, 1856, 325 x 122.5 cm. © Vitrocentre Romont, Katrin Kaufmann.

Fig. 3: Islands near Rio de Janeiro, stained glass painting by Caspar Gsell, c. 1860, 31 x 45 cm (Altnau, private ownership). © Vitrocentre Romont, Katrin Kaufmann.

Fig. 4: Waterfall near Rio de Janeiro, stained glass painting by Caspar Gsell, c. 1860, 31 x 45 cm (Altnau, private ownership). © Vitrocentre Romont, Katrin Kaufmann.

Vitromusée Romont Au Château P.O. Box 150 CH-1680 Romont Phone +41 (0)26 652 10 95 Fax +41 (0)26 652 49 17 cr:vasb:ivgebzhfrr.pu