Cartoons Exhibition At St Mary's Church

May 12, 2024

This exhibition displays cartoons (templates) of his three beautiful stained glass windows in St Mary’s Church. Part of a collection of items gifted to La Société Jersiaise by his widow in 1934, the cartoons have never been on public display before.

1. Church documents

The Rector and Church officers have take the opportunity to display some documents which local historians and parishioners in particular will find interesting. Most documents of historic interest have been lodged at Jersey Archive, and the display includes a helpful list of those in safe keeping, but freely available to anyone upon request. The display shows a seating plan in the church for the years 1862, 1864 and 1990. Jean Collas, eldest son John, and eldest grandson John Elias, were each in turn entitled to pew (‘banc’) number 6, before the transfer of the ownership of church pews was abolished by the ‘Loi (1908) au sujet des Bancs d’Église’. The information sheet ‘The Collas Memorial Windows’ gives more information about the family.

The display also includes photographs of the restoration of the rectory in 1989.

2. The Video Display

Take the opportunity to sit for 10 minutes to view the documentary ‘Bosdet: the Man behind the Glass Window’ made in 2007 by Maya Hammarsal & Mark Jones, about Bosdet’s life & work. The music for the documentary was composed by Charles Mauleverer, a young Jerseyman. The documentary can be also viewed in full by a link on the Home page of our website.

3. The Collas Memorial Windows

All three Bosdet windows were the gift of members of the Collas family referred to above. Commissioned in 1902 they depict scenes from the birth of Christ and form an harmonious grouping located side by side on the south wall of the chancel and nave, happily situated to take full advantage of the sunlight. Lt.-Col.R Gardner Warton in La Société Jersiaise’s publication ‘The Parish Churches of Jersey’ observes …”Previous to the latest ‘restoration’ in 1864, the windows and window tracery were somewhat dilapidated and crude, with wooden sills. They now represent a late type of early English, and are well suited to the general character of the building” and remarks upon the light in the church avoiding the “somewhat gloomy aspect which has been frequently remarked in other cases.”

The windows are protected from outside by traditional metal grills which cast their pattern on the glass. Originally designed no doubt as protection from small boys throwing stones, the danger now is from the use of strimmers in the churchyard, against which the grills offer no protection.

Angel appearing to the Shepherds

Facing you on your right as you cross from the the head of the north aisle to the south, an angel appears to two shepherds to announce the birth of Christ. The cartoon of the angel is exquisitely drawn and is the subject of our exhibition posters. The framing of the cartoon has allowed for Bosdet’s manuscript notes and instructions to remain visible, aided by the use of non-reflective museum quality acrylic ‘glass’ (employed for each of the three largest cartoons) which gives a stunning visual effect.

The memorial inscription of this window commemorates Adolphus and Clarence Hardley Collas who predeceased their eight surviving siblings who commissioned the window.

The Adoration of the Magi

There are two cartoons from the left hand light of this window, which is at the entrance to the choir. The larger of the two depicts Joseph, Mary, and an alert baby Jesus seated on her knee taking an interest in the extravagantly dressed strangers come to worship him. The smaller cartoon, partially coloured, shows the left half of the memorial transcription below the Holy Family.

The beginning of the 20th century saw a renewed interest in calligraphy. As in each of the three windows, Bosdet employs a variant of the ‘Blackletter’ or ‘Gothic script’, similar to the inscription of the Annunciation window at St Martin’s Church.

Attached to the smaller cartoon in Bosdet’s hand are the instructions presumably given by the Collas family for the inscriptions, including the phrase “Je t’ai donné pour être la lumière des nations,” which appears above the figures.

Presentation in the Temple

Located near the altar, this is the last of the windows to be installed and dedicated. Under Jewish law and custom at that time, all boys were to be brought to the Temple in Jerusalem to be presented to God. According to the biblical account, it was revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Christ of God. Here Simeon is shown holding Jesus in his arms and uttering his great prayer now forming part of the liturgy of the Christian church known as the Nunc Dimittis, and sung at Evensong in the Anglican tradition. The opening line of the prayer is recorded in French above the figures.

The Jersey Times and British Press report dated 30 January 1903 (see copy on display), extolls the …”particularly rich and deep scheme of colour; certain tones of citron green, olive, peacock blue, amber and varied ruby being particularly noticeable for their intensity and luminousness. The window should be particularly beautiful under the influence of summer sunshine.”

The smaller cartoon accompanying the cartoon depicting Simeon holding baby Jesus shows the left hand side of the memorial inscription which commemorates the grandparents and maternal great-grandmother of the donor, referred to in the press report as Miss Collas of Ravenscrag, believed to be Emma Jane Collas.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this the second public exhibition of Bosdet’s cartoons. We hope to present a third exhibition for the windows in St Aubin’s-on-the-Hill later this summer.

We are most grateful to the Rector, the Rev’d Kirsty Allan for her ready assistance and for hosting the exhibition, and to The Jersey Community Foundation, supported by funds from the Channel Islands Lottery, for funding the conservation and framing of the cartoons, expertly carried out by local conservator Lisa Oxenden-Wray of Baudains Art Conservation, and by local framers Carlo Zen of Framing and Arts, New Street, and Michael Bourke of Victoria Art Gallery of Victoria Street.

Thanks too to the representatives of Jersey Heritage for assisting with the mounting of the three larger cartoons and the preparation of the exhibition, and for Jersey Heritage’s and La Société Jersiaise’s support in realising this project.

Please sign your name in the Attendance Book at the entrance as you leave.