From 1848 until well into the twentieth century, the Röttinger stained-glass studio was one of the best-known workshops in Switzerland. Its entire archive, consisting of hundreds of designs, cartoons for execution, and rich collections of models, and also its business papers, were retained by the company’s heirs and may now be found in the Zentralbibliothek in Zurich. The profile of this rare treasure was raised during a research project undertaken by the Vitrocentre in Romont, and thanks to the kind cooperation of the Zentralbibliothek, the archive has been brought to light for the first time with this exhibition, together with objects that bear witness to the functioning of the workshop, such as stained glass and items still in the possession of the family. The entire archive has been recorded in a research database, and several publications have either appeared or are in preparation.
The research project was made possible with support from the Schweizerische Nationalfonds, as well as from cultural heritage bodies of the city and canton of Zurich. In addition, two dissertations have resulted from the project, undertaken in collaboration with the Art History Institute of Zurich University (see below, under Publications).
One particular theme – the studio’s relationships with its clients – is illustrated with examples from the francophone region of Swizterland. Documents relating to the production of windows by the Zurich studio for the Glâne district were discovered; the windows themselves are extant in the churches of Ursy and Châtonnaye. Research into the studio’s archive also confirmed that Johann Jakob Röttinger was entrusted with the restoration of the medieval stained glass in the conventual church at Hauterive near Freiburg, after this Cistercian foundation was closed down following the Sonderbund War of 1847–48. There nevertheless remains a puzzle, as to why parts of the glazing, which was supposed to be relocated to Freiburg Minster, are now to be found in museums in Stockholm, London, Munich and Zurich.
In the exhibition a selection of the most beautiful designs and cartoons can be admired, which together with the paper images used as models illustrate the process of creating a stained-glass window. The glass-painters had a rich collection of models on which to draw for a range of periods and a whole gamut of styles that differed very widely from one another. The exhibition provides rare insights into the working world of a nineteenth-century stained-glass studio and its workers.
The exhibition will be transferred to the Ritterhaus in Bubikon (Switzerland) for the summer and autumn of 2015.
Eva-Maria Scheiwiller-Lorber, «…gemäss den Regeln und Gesetzen der Ästhetik und der christliche Kunst…». Johann Jakob Röttinger: Ein Glasmalerpionier im Dienste des Historismus. Publications du Vitrocentre Romont, Peter Lang Verlag, Bern 2014.
(The text is taken from a Vitromusée press release and has been translated by Joseph Spooner)