Executed at the studio of Puhl & Wagner and Gottfried Heinersdorff, Berlin
192.8 × 56.8cm
Clear and polychrome moulded and flashed glasses (the pink is especially beautiful), black vitreous paint, lead cames, in its original wooden frame
Prestigious classic modernist window, created for the cycle of saints in the Church of St Agatha in Merchingen (near Saarbrücken) designed by Clemens Holzmeister (1886–1983)
Bishop Lutwin is shown standing before a bright window, with strong panel divisions, and a blue frame and cross bands. He wears red pontifical garb (mitre, alb, chasuble and pallium), holding his crozier in his right hand and in his left, before his chest, a model of a church, which marks him out as the founder (in c.690) of the Benedictine monastery at Mettlach, situated near Merchingen. At his feet sits his attribute, an eagle. Legend has it that the eagle saved Lutwin from sunstroke, while he was still Duke of Lothringen, during a break in a hunting expedition in the woods near Mettlach, by stretching out his wings to protect him. After he awoke, the squire recounted what had happened to his lord, who took this eagle miracle as a sign that a monastery should be founded on that spot.
This window’s impact derives from the manifold contrasting effects achieved within its strong but simple composition: light and dark areas, and rectilinear shapes and curved forms are set next to one another in a highly effective and complementary manner. In the same way as his teacher Jan Thorn Prikker, Wendling arranged his figurative material as a colourful decorative element on the surface of the composition, in order to emphasize its metaphysical import by dispensing with its physicality. Wendling’s artistic aspiration to reduce his formal vocabulary to a clear, symmetrical principle of construction, is fully realized in the Merchingen cycle. The Lutwin Window is therefore an excellent example of the artist’s work.
Wendling may have received the contract for the windows in the Church of St Agatha directly from the architect Clemens Holzmeister himself. The two probably met in Düsseldorf, when Holzmeister was teaching there, from 1928 to 1932, at the Akademie der bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts). A not insignificant role in the awarding of the contract may have been played by the fact that Wendling’s wife came from Merchingen. (I am grateful to Mr Theo Seiwert of Merchingen for this information.)
1930: ‘Kult und Form’ (‘Cult and Form’), at the Altes Kunstgewerbemuseum, Prinz-Albrecht-Straße, Berlin
2001: ‘Farblicht – Kunst und Künstler im Wirkungskreis des Glasmalers Gottfried Heinersdorff (1883-1941)’ (‘Coloured Light – Art and Artists in the Circle of the Glass-Painter Gottfried Heinersdorff (1883–1941)’), at the Kunst-Museum Ahlen (Ahlen), Edwin Scharff Museum (Neu-Ulm), and Clemens-Sels-Museum (Neuss)
Maria-Katharina Schulz, Glasmalerei der klassischen Moderne in Deutschland, Bern/New York/Paris, 1987, p. 124 (a brief description of the contract)
Farblicht: Kunst und Künstler im Wirkungskreis des Glasmalers Gottfried Heinersdorff (1883-1941), Hagen, 2001, col. pl. on p. 50, pp. 51f.
On the contract for the Church of St Agatha in Merchingen, see also Anton Wendling: Facettenreiche Formstrenge, exhibition catalogue, Deutsches Glasmalereimuseum, Linnich, 2009, p. 19.
Berlinische Galerie, Architektursammlung, Archiv der Glasmalerei- und Mosaikanstalten Puhl & Wagner und Gottfried Heinersdorff, Berlin (negative nos. 1022–26, c.1930).