Groupe de Saint-Luc: Light on the revival of sacred art in French-speaking Switzerland
In the first half of the 20th century, the art of stained glass experienced an extraordinary upswing within the Groupe de Saint-Luc. This Catholic artists’ association, whose aim was the renewal of sacred art, was founded in Geneva in 1919 and attained supra-regional importance in 1924 with the founding of the Sankt-Lucas Gesellschaft. The Western section left a lasting imprint on the cultural heritage of the French speaking cantons. The artists and architects affiliated to it were responsible for the construction, decoration and renovation of numerous sacred buildings. Among the techniques mastered by the artists of the collective, the art of stained-glass occupied a special place. Several emblematic glass artists such as Cingria, Poncet, Beretta, Castella, Monnier and Thévoz belonged to or were associated with the Groupe de Saint-Luc, like Jordan and Gaeng. They used traditional stained-glass techniques, but at the same time incorporated modern materials and styles into their works, combining Art Deco, Cubism and Fauvism with medieval and Baroque reminiscences. The aim of the project is to make the work of these artists accessible, to appreciate their artistic approach and to show how their work fits into an overall concept that combines architecture and decoration in the sense of a total work of art.
Fig. 1: Atelier Chiara, Glass dome of the sacristy, Sorens, 1935 © Vitrocentre Romont, photographer: Cyrille Girardet.
Fig. 2: Photographic collage of the work of the Groupe de Saint-Luc (in: Almanach romand de St-Luc, 1937), 1937.
Fig. 3: Interior view of the church at Mézières. Vitrocentre Romont, Tino Zurbrügg (from the film Yoki: vitrail et lumière, 2021).
Fig. 4: Alexandre Cingria, Kirsch and Fleckner workshop, Assumption of the Virgin (detail), 1938, Attalens church presbytery. Vitrocentre Romont, Camille Noverraz.
Fig. 5: Alexandre Cingria, Chiara workshop, Canticle of Brother Sun (detail), 1940, nave of the chapel of the Foyer franciscain in Saint-Maurice. Vitrocentre Romont, Valérie Sauterel.
Fig. 6: Marcel Poncet, St. Francis of Assisi preaching to the birds, graphic work, 1915, preliminary drawing for the church of Saint-Paul de Cologny, Geneva. Vitrocentre Romont.