Morris & Co. was established in 1861 on the initiative of William Morris, founder of the Arts & Crafts movement in England and close to the pre-Raphaelite painters, including Edward Burne-Jones.
Morris & Co. regularly worked on the decoration and furniture of churches, as in the case of the chapel of Cheadle Royal Hospital in Manchester, decorated between 1906 and 1915. The stained glass windows were designed from earlier drawings by Burne-Jones, made between 1874 and 1876
Enoch is a biblical patriarch whom the book of Genesis tells us was taken up to heaven by God to take his place at His side. Christian tradition considers that Enoch's ascent to heaven, like that of Elijah, prefigured the ascension of Christ.
Enoch is quoted in the epistle to the Hebrews: “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him.”
This is a rare iconography, which can be explained here by the proximity to the figure of Noah, whose grandfather Enoch is reputed to be, and the system of correspondences with the parts of the decoration evoking the New Testament. The same Burne-Jones design was used for two other stained glass windows installed by Morris & Co.: for the Calcutta Cathedral and for Saint Martin’s Church on Sloane Street in Chelsea.
Burne-Jones's imagined composition highlights the patriarch's imposing figure and offers a plastic solution to his ascension by God.
Indeed, we see the hands of Enoch and the Most High joining in the upper right corner. This gesture testifies both to Enoch's closeness to God during his earthly life and to the divine will to remove Enoch from the profane world and bring him close to Him.
Enoch's face as well as his morphology testify to Burne-Jones's taste for Italian Renaissance figures. The implementation of its design by the practitioner George Titcomb recalls the style of stained glass windows designed by Morris.
We see a search for depth of tone (blues, reds, greens) rivaling the medieval glassmakers, but also a more contemporary desire to let light penetrate the building through a lighter background. This background, formed of regular lozenges and decorated with painted floral motifs evoking the millefleurs, brings a decorative dimension to the stained glass.
This magnificent stained glass window has joined the Musée d'Orsay thanks to the generosity of the SAMO, which has supported the enrichment of our collections for forty years.