William Robertson: Stained Glass Studies 

William Robertson, self-portrait, oil on canvas, 1857, Planting Fields Foundation

William Robertson (1829-1924) was a maternal uncle to William Robertson Coe, who was his namesake. Born in Edinburgh, he spent most of his life in Battersea, London, where he became known for the stained-glass windows he designed for churches. Privately, he was a painter and poet who wrote verse in the Scottish dialect.  Two of his scrapbooks created during 1878 are in the Planting Fields Foundation Archives. They are filled with traditional Scottish ballads, folk songs, and original handwritten poems and drawings.  

Robertson’s sketchbook, 1878, Planting Fields Foundation Archives

Robertson was a romantic nature-lover who loved capturing his impressions of the world around him. His sons Victor and George were also artists who studied at the Royal Academy. His nephew W.R. Coe was decidedly more business minded, and though he was more inclined toward the design of the main house and the landscape of Planting Fields, he left many of the artistic decisions to his wife Mai. 

To compliment the stained glass designed by Robertson on view in the writing room is a print of a study for a two-part lancet trefoil window created for Chichester Cathedral in West Sussex, England. The glass was damaged during World War II and later replaced by a modern design.  

Robertson’s study for Chichester Cathedral, now on view in the writing room, Planting Fields Foundation Archives.

Marie Penny, Michael D. Coe Archivist

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