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Johann Jakob Röttinger: Stained Glass Artist and Advocate of Historicism

“…in accordance with the rules and regulations of aesthetics and of Christian art […]”

Johann Jakob Röttinger: a pioneering stained glass artist in the service of Historicism

The Nuremberg stained glass artist Johann Jakob Röttinger (1817 – 1877) emigrated to Zurich in 1844, and opened his own workshop there in 1848. He created stained glass windows throughout Switzerland, as well as in southern Germany and Alsace. It was often stipulated in his contracts that, in addition to fulfilling aesthetic criteria, the windows must adhere to the “rules of Christian Art”. From an artistic point of view, Röttinger can be classified as a Nazarene. “In the service of Historicism”, he also realised his clients’ wishes in neo-Gothic or neo-Romanesque style, in the tradition of stained glass prevalent since the Middle Ages.

Röttinger, a talented and charismatic businessman, was distinguished by the solidity of his work, by his sense of duty towards his employees and his clients, and his appreciation of the collaboration of his wife; all of which not only did him credit as a person, but also contributed to his social and commercial success. His role as mentor and employer of Swiss and foreign workers, who then went on to practice their skills in their own countries, was an important factor in the cultural transfer of the profession. Johann Jakob Röttinger drew up inventories of medieval stained glass, and worked on its restoration, which led to his reputation as one of the pioneers in the preservation of our cultural heritage. In addition, he was an accomplished teacher and tutor to the next generation of stained glass artists.

The project has received financial support by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Cultural Heritage Services of the Canton and the City Zurich.

Dissertation submitted 2012, Faculty of Arts, University of Zurich; under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Brigitte Kurmann-Schwarz and Prof. Dr. Tristan Weddigen (Kunsthistorisches Institut der Universität Zürich).

The dissertation has been published in 2014 in the series issued by the Vitrocentre Romont; see under Publications
Link to the full summary of the dissertation in German: (pdf, 66 KB)

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