The Freiburg glass-painted Fritz Geiges (1853–1935) can be counted one of the most extraordinary artistic personalities of the final years of the nineteenth century. Influenced by the historicism of the latter half of that century and the high esteem in which it held the Middle Ages, Geiges dedicated himself to stained glass after studying art. His intensive studies of the development of stained glass and its techniques, as well as his role at the head of a workshop, meant that he attained an exceptional degree of competency in his field in addition to being highly regarded. Among his most spectacular commissions was the creation of the twenty-seven windows and mosaics for the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche in Berlin in 1895; through the imperial house numerous further commissions followed.
In addition to his work as a designer and practitioner, Geiges was most notably a sought-after restorer. Being highly aware of styles, and competent in their execution, he restored stained glass ranging in date from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries in important churches, including the Freiburg Minster and the cathedrals of Eichstätt and Metz. During these restorations, he manufactured numerous copies of windows, giving rise to an impressive collection that memorably presents the history of the development of stained glass from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century.
After the turn of the century, the artist freed himself from the backwards-looking style of historicism and developed a modern conception of the image, influenced by Jugendstil and symbolism.
In 1998, the Deutsches Glasmalerei-Museum received the 112 works of the Fritz Geiges collection as a donation. This is the first comprehensive exhibition dedicated to this artist, copyist and restorer, tracing the path from historicism to modernism.
(Text by Dirk Tölke of the Deutsches Glasmalerei-Museum, Linnich)