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Resources - Stained Glass

 Stained Glass: Christopher Wallis, FRHSC  

Featured Artist

The current featured artist in the category of Heraldic Stained Glass is Christopher Wallis, one of Canada's leading artists in the field. Born in London, England, he graduated from the Hammersmith School of Arts and Crafts and entered a four-year apprenticeship in the Ecclesiastical Art Studios of Martin Travers and Lawrence Lee.

Before emigrating to Canada in 1956, he worked on the memorial window for King George VI in the Royal Military College chapel, Sandhurst, and the nave windows of the new Coventry Cathedral.

He opened his first studio in London, Ontario in 1959. His long career has taken him across the country with major commissions in Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, London and Ottawa. His stained glass can be seen in cathedrals, civic buildings, universities and residential homes.

Mr Wallis has been elected as a Fellow of the British Society of Master Glass Painters, a Member of the Royal Academy of Arts, and a Fellow of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada. In 1993, he was awarded the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada for his "significant contribution to Canada".

The Works

Click on any image to view a larger image of the same.

  Design and made for the 22nd International Congress of Genealogical & Heraldic Sciences, Aug 1996. The image depicts the arms and insignia of the Canadian Heraldic Authority and its officers as of August, 1996. The stained glass was installed in Rideau Hall, Ottawa in December, 1996.
  History of Government House Window - main entrance, Government House, Victoria, B.C.
The stained glass window was designed to reflect British Columbia's heritage as a parliamentary democracy and constitutional Monarchy, symbolize the history and role of Government House in the life of the province, and also to recognize the service of the Governors and Lieutenant Governors and their Chatelaines since 1849. Encouraged and supported by Lieutenant Governor Robert G. Rogers, the British Columbia Government House Foundation undertook this project. The unveiling and dedication took place on May 2, 1990.
  Law Society of Upper Canada, Osgoode Hall.
  History of St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, west main entrance, London, ON.
  The Vice-Regal Window, Rideau Hall, Ottawa
  The Royal Window, Rideau Hall, Ottawa


The present display presents that side of my heraldic art that is directly related to architectural scale and historical content. It offers the viewer an alternative to thinking of stained-glass heraldry as merely a shield or medallion set within a window.

This design approach provides the viewer of the windows with a far more interesting story than the windows one often sees in the cathedrals and churches of Europe, which show generally a collage of shields stacked one on top of the other, honouring individuals or families with no historical context.

The heraldic art form developed during the twelfth century, at the same time as the flowering of stained glass art in Europe. This brought together two art forms that were both compatible with the medium of coloured glass. Heraldic art at its most successful is achieved through strong, simple iconography and bold, plain colour. Stained glass painting, which has to contend with the transmission of light in all degrees of intensity, is likewise most effective where the iconography is strong and simple and where the colour is plain and bold. This is strikingly demonstrated in the stained glass windows of the French cathedrals of the12th and 13th century.

Admittedly, not all the windows in the current display are heraldic in the strictest sense of the word. However, they are all based on sound heraldic principles of design and colour, and heraldic details are integral to the designs.

Christopher Wallis.