York/Glasgow Museums CDA Holder: Marie Groll (2011-2016)

Marie Groll was a Collaborative Doctoral Award holder from 2011-2016. Her Arts and Humanities Research Council funded PhD, entitled ‘Thomas and Drake and the Transatlantic Trade in Stained Glass 1900-1950’, was co-supervised by Sarah Brown (University of York) and Vivien Hamilton (Glasgow Museums). Additional funding was awarded by Glasgow Museums and The Worshipful Company of Glaziers.

In 2016, Marie was also a recipient of the OCHS Scholarship, from the British Archaeological Association.

Here, Marie tells us about her thesis and some of the highlights of her PHD.


My research explores the world of Thomas and Drake, a transatlantic art dealership formed by landscape painter George Grosvenor Thomas (1856-1923), his son Roy Thomas (1886-1952), and glass-painter and glazier Wilfred Drake (1879-1948). Together, they were the only art dealers to have specialised solely in the selling and adaption of Medieval and Renaissance stained glass during the first half of the twentieth century, and did so on an unprecedented scale from their branches in New York and London (see images, below).

St Peter, French thirteenth-century, stained glass, 121 x 54 cm, ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

One of Grosvenor Thomas’s earliest known sales of stained glass was made to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1909, an object that is still on display there today: 'St Peter' (c. 1280); French, thirteenth-century, stained glass, 121 x 54 cm, V&A No. C.727-1909, image ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Armorial panel on display in Thomas and Drake’s New York gallery

Armorial panel on display in Thomas and Drake’s New York gallery, with the New York cityscape seen behind: image taken from a Thomas and Drake stock card, part of the Dennis King Archive, box 53, on deposit at the Society of Antiquaries, London

Acquiring, adapting, repairing, and selling thousands of panels, their stock now underpins many exceptionally important collections of stained glass worldwide, underlining their status as exceptionally important and prolific vendors of the medium

Christ in the House of Martha, Flemish sixteenth century, stained glass, Burrell Collection

Wilfred Drake's characteristic modern border, copied from a sixteenth-century one he had seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He favoured adding borders of this type to many panels he sold. Illustrated here is 'Christ in the House of Martha', Flemish sixteenth century, stained glass, 36 cm diameter, now in the Burrell Collection (45/470); image courtesy of Glasgow Museums Resource Centre

The research situates traded stained glass in this period as an ever growing part of a curator’s repertoire in public museums around the world, as well as an integral element of the furnishing of the homes of exceptionally wealthy heiresses, industrialists, financiers, and businessmen.

In 2013 I was awarded a substantial Arts and Humanities Research Council Travel Bursary in order to conduct research in the United States, where I spent a significant amount of time in New York and Boston, particularly at the world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Marie Groll arriving at Grand Central Station in New York City, in 2013, on a research trip

Arriving at Grand Central Station in New York City, in 2013, ready to embark on research in the United States

A further travel bursary was awarded in 2014, which allowed me to spend extended periods of time in London and Glasgow conducting further vital primary research, including visits to the archives at the Tate Gallery, Fine Art Society, Society of Antiquaries, and Victoria and Albert Museum. Another significant moment during the course of my PhD included the chance to tutor MA students at the University of York, when, in 2013, I was given the opportunity to be the module convenor for the ‘History and Theory of Stained Glass’ on the History of Art’s specialised and acclaimed master’s programme Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management.

Some other highlights of the PhD have included participation in several national and international conferences, including the technical and art historical meetings of the Corpus Vitrearum in Vienna (2012), Amsterdam (2013), York (2014), Paris (2015) and Troyes (2016).

Marie Groll presenting a paper at the Troyes International Colloquium, 2016 ima

Presenting a paper at the Troyes International Colloquium, 2016; photograph courtesy of Jasmine Allen

Marie Groll visiting the Church of Saint-Augustin in Paris, as part of the Paris CVMA colloquium, 2015; photograph courtesy of Francesca Scargill

Visiting the Church of Saint-Augustin in Paris, as part of the Paris CVMA colloquium, 2015; photograph courtesy of Francesca Scargill

I was afforded the honour of presenting papers and posters at several of these events, and was fortunate enough to have been awarded multiple CVMA student bursaries to cover the costs of attendance. Additionally, I was also given the chance to present my research at the '4th Annual Glasgow Museums Research Conference' in Glasgow in 2011, alongside staff members from the many exceptional museums across the city, part of the Glasgow Museums family – The Burrell Collection, Kelvingrove Museum, Riverside Museum, Provand’s Lordship, The People’s Palace, St Mungo’s, Scotland Street School, and The Gallery of Modern Art. Enabled by my special position as a Collaborative Doctoral Award holder, on this occasion, and throughout the course of my studies, I was treated as a member of the team of staff at these Glasgow institutions.

This close collaboration with research and conservation staff at Glasgow Museums was of fundamental importance to my thesis, affording unprecedented access to archival documents, scholars, curators, and the artworks themselves. Establishing Thomas and Drake’s remarkable relationship with the biggest private collector of stained glass in the world, Glasgow-born shipping magnate William Burrell (1861-1958), was enabled and facilitated by this partnership, as well as the examination at close-quarters of objects both on and off display. Burrell not only purchased in incredibly high volume, but also, in a move without precedent, decorated not only the main rooms in his Scottish Baronial home Hutton Castle (Scottish Borders), but also placed panels in the toilets, pantries, and even the servants’ quarters.

Stained-glass panel purchased from Grosvenor Thomas and installed by William Burrell in the tower staircase at his home Hutton Castle, the earliest piece of glass in his collection: 'Head of Moses', French twelfth century, stained glass, 60 x 26 cm, now in the Burrell Collection (45/1), image courtesy of Glasgow Museums Resource Centre

Stained-glass panel purchased from Grosvenor Thomas and installed by William Burrell in the tower staircase at his home Hutton Castle, the earliest piece of glass in his collection: 'Head of Moses', French twelfth century, stained glass, 60 x 26 cm, now in the Burrell Collection (45/1), image courtesy of Glasgow Museums Resource Centre

In five volumes, my thesis was able to provide a fully illustrated reconstruction of the highly concentrated glazing of this property, and also reproduce the extensive correspondence between Burrell and his main stained-glass dealer, Wilfred Drake, London anchor of Thomas and Drake. Without the rich resources and access provided by my collaborative partnership, this task would have been incredibly more difficult. 

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