Henri Gérente, 1814-49

Undoubtedly the most distinguished craftsman that Scott used at Ely was Henri Gérente of Paris, who between 1848 and 1849 filled four large Norman windows on the south side of the south transept with excellent stained glass based on thirteenth-century models. Sadly his contact with Scott was all too brief. He had set up his own workshop in 1846 having become a glass painter for the last eight years of his life. He escaped from Paris after facing a firing squad during the 1848 revolution, worked on the Ely windows, and when he heard that his father was dying of cholera, returned to Paris in 1849. He then, according to Scott, hurried back to England, convinced that if he stayed in Paris, he too would die of cholera. However, he did return to Paris again, immediately caught the disease and died. He was succeeded by his younger brother, Alfred Gérente (1821-68), who, Scott says, had been ‘educated as a sculptor – who – has fallen with considerable success his elder brothers grove [sic]’. Alfred continued the work at Ely, with three windows in the south aisle of the nave, two of which he displayed at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and were awarded a Prize Medal. He also carried out other work on Scott’s buildings, particularly the west window of St Mary’s, Stafford, in 1855.