Monday, October 26, 2009

"All the World's a Stage"

Photo: Geoffrey Wallace
Copyright State Library of Victoria

This stained-glass window of Shakespeare at the State Library of Victoria, is one of the earliest stained-glass windows made in Melbourne. More than three metres high, it displays the words, "All the World's a Stage". The production of colonial workmen, it was originally installed in the facade of Coppin's Apollo Music Hall in 1862 on the first floor of the Haymarket Theatre in Bourke Street Melbourne.

Haymarket Theatre 1863
showing the shape of the
stained-glass window in the centre window.
Copyright SLV

It remained there until 1870, when it was removed to George Selph Coppin's (1819-1906) private homes in Richmond and Sorrento and actor-manager Bland Holt's home in Kew until it was left to the trustees of the Melbourne Public Library by Coppin's daughter, Lucy.

George Selph Coppin, C. 1864
Copyright SLV

From the 1960s to 1990s it was displayed against a wall in a stairwell of the Museum. After a major refurbishment of the State Library, the window was placed in storage and in 2005 extensively restored by stained-glass artist Geoffrey Wallace and installed in the La Trobe Domed Reading Room.

Photo: Geoffrey Wallace
Copyright SLV

Domed Reading Room

The Spring 2006 edition of the La Trobe Journal (published by the State Library of Victoria Foundation twice yearly in Autumn and Spring), has an interesting piece by Mimi Colligan entitled, 'That window has a history' (page 94) and Geoffrey Wallace's 'Conservation of the Shakespeare Window' (page 104), walks through stage by stage restoration of this beautiful window.

Detail of window before intervention
showing earlier, poor quality glass replacement.

Detail of window after intervention,
showing newly painted glass replacements
in sympathy with the original window.
Copyright SLV

State Library of Victoria
Melbourne Australia
Photo: Anthony Agius

La Trobe Journal link.


Alaine said...

I had more trouble than Ned Kelly with this post; wouldn't let me put the link in for the La Trobe Journal. I spat the dummy and went for a walk! I'll try to put it down the bottom.

willow said...

I had THE worst trouble with my post, today, too. I completely gave up on my picture of the withy branches!

WOW, this is a spectacular library. Wonderful Shakespeare window.

Alaine said...

Hello Willow and thanks. It is a great library and I just love the atmosphere inside.

My fonts and colours and positions kept changing around and I also have this huge comment form I can't get rid of, although the small pop-up box button is selected!

You wouldn't have known about it, as America was asleep but two days ago (1am your time) I couldn't get into my blog or my husband's. There was a huge problem and finally I got the message that they knew about it. Oh well, let's hope those clever people can fix all; I'll put my trust in them.

steven said...

alaine - thanks for your efforts. this is a beautiful post. i'm really drawn to stained glass having seen lots and lots of it as a child in the various churches and cathedrals my family took me to. have a lovely day. steven

lakeviewer said...

Stunning pictures. Glad you shared these with us.

Alaine said...

Hi Steven, thank goodness there are still so many left for us to enjoy.

Alaine said...

Lakeviewer, thank you for your visit!

Tracy said...

The newly restored window is dazzling--such richness of color, and a story it tells all its own! Very much enjoyed all the history you shared with us here, Alaine... I love coming here, you always share something special and unique. :o) Happy Day, my friend ((HUGS))

Alaine said...

Hello Tracy, yes it's very lovely and history gets me in all the time! Thank you, dear friend; I see that it's mid morning there and I'm about to turn in! Hugs to you - xa.

I_am_Tulsa said...

Hi Alaine! The stained glass is beautiful! The library is absolutely gorgeous! It would be dreamlike to read a book in a place like that!

T. Clear said...

I wonder what the bard would say about all this! Great post, as always.

blackbird said...

I love stained glass and enjoyed hearing about this window. I'm glad that it's back in the public eye where it can be enjoyed by many. And what a wonderful space to be in.

Derrick said...

Hi Alaine,

I always enjoy looking at stained glass and this window seems beautiful. Hurray for the SLV!

Lyn said...

What diversity, especially the painted glass replacement for Mr. Shakespeare..

ruma2008 said...


I am glad that can watch very beautiful Australia.
With all works artistic entirely, as for me, eyes are dazzling.

Thank you for watching the rural scenery of the Far East.


FireLight said...

Alaine, I have been trying to read and catch up with all may bloggy friends...this post is just marvelous. I especially enjoyed the history of the window...and the restoration is wonderfully inspiring! And the library is a beauty...just wish I could walk up those stairs and rightinto the domed reading room. Thank you!

Alaine said...

Firelight, I'm glad you found it; it seems like eons ago that I posted it but, when I look back, only a matter of two weeks!! It is a wonderful library; I haven't been in there for about 4 years but will re-visit on our next stay in Melbourne. I remember welking into the domed reading room and you could hear a pin drop! A marvellous place for research. Thanks for the catch-up!