Daniel Cottier: A Pioneer in Stained Glass Design and Art Trading

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Spring by Daniel Cottier
Spring by Daniel Cottier

Cottier, a notable British stained glass designer, decorator, and art dealer, made significant contributions to the field during the 19th century. Born in Glasgow, Cottier’s journey took him to various cities, including Edinburgh, London, New York, Sydney, and Melbourne.

Apprenticeship and Influential Encounters

During the early 1850s, Cottier was an apprentice to David Kier, a prominent stained glass producer in Glasgow. It was during this time that his talent flourished. While working for them in London, Cottier had the opportunity to attend lectures by distinguished figures such as John Ruskin and Ford Madox Brown. These experiences played a crucial role in shaping his artistic vision.

Returning to Scotland and Breaking from Tradition

By 1862, Cottier had returned to Scotland and started working for stained glass producers Field and Allan. Notably, Cottier was among the first designers to deviate from the prevalent Gothic revival style of the era. His innovative approach introduced a fresh perspective to stained glass design.

Collaborations and Establishing Workshops

In 1864, Cottier and Andrew Wells (formerly with Field and Allan) established their workshop at 40 George Street, Edinburgh. During this period, he designed captivating windows for the Cathedral of Saint Machar in Aberdeen. Furthermore, Cottier collaborated with architects William Leiper and Alexander Thomson to paint decorations for Downhill Church and United Presbyterian Church in Glasgow.

Plate by Daniel Cottier 1877 (detail) Royal Scottish Museum
Plate by Daniel Cottier 1877 (detail) Royal Scottish Museum

The Birth of Cottier and Company

1869 Cottier founded Cottier and Company, specializing in art furniture, glass, and tile painting. The company operated in London and attracted esteemed Scottish architects, including John McKean Brydon, William Wallace, and Bruce J. Talbert, who briefly joined as partners. Cottier’s team showcased their creative prowess in projects such as the Colearn House in Auchterarder, where Talbert designed the dining room and its furniture, while Cottier created symbolic stained-glass windows.

International Expansion

1873 marked a significant turning point for Cottier as he expanded his business abroad. He opened a branch at 144 Fifth Avenue in New York, introducing various goods, including furniture, Venetian glass, Oriental rugs, fabrics, faience, lacquer work, and bronzes. Inspired by English, Japanese, and Queen Anne styles, Cottier’s furniture pieces gained popularity among discerning clients.

Aesthetic Stained Glass in America

Cottier’s impact extended beyond trading, as he became one of the pioneers in creating Aesthetic stained glass in the United States. In 1878, his earliest-known commission involved a window in the Green Memorial Alcove of the New York Society Library. Notably, prominent decorator Leon Marcotte was involved in this project.

Distinguished Commissions and Continued Success

Cottier’s reputation grew, leading to commissions for stained-glass windows in notable architectural works. His creations adorned Trinity Church in Boston, Calvary Church in Gramercy Park, New York, the Church of the Incarnation and First Presbyterian Church in New York, Grace Church in Brooklyn, St. John’s Church in Canandaigua, New York, as well as private residences and structures at Yale and Harvard Universities.

Establishing a Presence in Australia

Recognizing the demand for his expertise, Cottier expanded his business further by opening branches in Sydney and later Melbourne in collaboration with John Lamb Lyon. This expansion allowed him to reach a wider audience and solidify his international reputation.

Recognition and Legacy

Cottier’s contributions to the stained glass industry were highly regarded. His work, including a stained-glass window for Field and Allan, was featured in the 1864 ‘Exhibition of Stained Glass and Mosaics’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Today, his legacy lives on through his captivating stained glass designs, inspiring and captivating art enthusiasts worldwide. In conclusion, Daniel Cottier, a visionary stained glass designer, decorator, and art dealer, played a significant role in pushing the boundaries of traditional design. His innovative approach and collaboration with talented architects resulted in breathtaking stained-glass creations that continue to be admired today. Cottier’s global reach and entrepreneurial spirit showcased his remarkable talent, making him a true pioneer in the world of stained glass.

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing. https://amzn.to/3ElmSlL

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