Thrice in every eleven years, Castro dedicated himself exclusively to accomplishing stained-glass windows for a long term period. These are three monumental artworks created for essentially different places and settings: a religious cloistered community in Caen, a church located in a densely populated quarter in Hamburg, and an ancient parochial church -formerly collegiate – located in Romont. Despite the fact that the first two buildings which Castro worked for were under construction, the artist complied with extremely specific standards. Whereas in Romont he had to work in the context of the architecture of the 13th and 15th centuries which comprised other artworks of various periods, while keeping the modernity and power of his own style.
In his stained-glass works Castro treated figurative and non-figurative forms as well as “alphabetical” ones found in these three monumental achievements:
|Les Verrières de Couvrechef – La – Folie (près de Caen)||Artworks||Accomplishment||Notes|
Between 1956 and 1959, Castro prepared a stained-glass window La Création de Monde for the monastery church of Couvrechef, Caen (architect Jean Zunz). This artwork of 6 m high by 20 m wide and three front lancets are based on the Ambrosian hymns for vespers singing the Genesis.
« J’ai vu votre vitrail et la mer, comme on voit l’amour sacré et l’amour profane, séparés par une mince bande verte de ciel et de prairie. Le vitrail et la mer chantent le même hymne, mais au lieu que la mer contient le soleil dans son ventre, le soleil céleste promène dans le coeur du verre une suite ininterrompue de paroles dont la première nous fut donnée, dès la porte franchie, une après-midi vers quatre heures, comme un immense rideau de pourpre se dressant dans le vide du monde…»
« Castro, vous avez fait une GRANDE oeuvre, haute, complète, concertée comme le jeu des mondes et des mots, une espèce de développement fort et simple comme l’univers passé par notre esprit »
« I have seen your stained-glass window and the sea the way sacred love and profane love is seen, separated by a thin green ribbon of the sky and meadow. The window and the sea sing the same hymn, but instead of being held in the depths of the sea, the heavenly sun utters in the core of glass an uninterrupted series of lyrics, the first of which we were delivered, as soon as we stepped over the door, around four o’clock in the afternoon, and it appeared like a crimson curtain drawn over the void.»
“Castro, you have created an OUTSTANDING artwork, high, complete, planned as the play of words and worlds, a kind of simple and powerful growth, a universe crossing our mind.”
Fragment of Pierre Lecuire’s letter to Sergio de Castro of April 9, 1959.
Referene text: Véronique David. Sergio de Castro et le défi du vitrail, In Situ n°12 – 03.11.2009
|Temple luthérien Dietrich Bonhoeffer Kirche, Hamburg-Dulsberg||Artworks||Accomplishment|
Between 1968 and 1969, he prepared the stained-glass window La Rédemption for the first Lutheran church dedicated to the famous theologian, Resistance fighter and German martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (architect Gerhard Laague). Being 4.50 m high by 17.50 m wide, this work seems to be hung between the sky and the earth as it is placed between the empty space of the side aisle and ceiling. By choosing one of the most famous religious themes, he would draw five principal festivities of the liturgical year: the Nativity, Passion, Resurrection, Ascension and Whitsun.
Reference text: Hans Platte, Das kirchenfenster der Dietrich Bonhoeffer zur Hamburg-Dulsberg, 1969 in publication
|Collégiale de Romont, Suisse||Artworks||Accomplishment|
In 1978 -1981, it was the entire northern aisle of the Collegiate Church de l’Assomption in Romont that was ordered to the artist, i.e. five flamboyant windows of the 15th century where Castro placed five biblical prophets: l’Arc en Ciel – Noé, le Buisson Ardent – Moïse, Le Char de feu – Élie, l’Arbre de Jessé – Isaïe, la délivrance du Prophète – Jonas
Reference text: Jacques Thuillier Les Prophètes, les Vitraux de Sergio de Castro à Romont Editiones El Viso , Madrid, édition française, édition espagnole
|Hall du Musée de Saint Lô, France||Artworks and Accomplishment|
In 2008, the town of Saint-Lô orders Sergio de Castro a set of stained-glass windows composed of four boards of 96 cm sideways for the hall of the Saint-Lô Museum. Castro chose the themes of Abécédaire and Chiffres. These profane windows were inaugurated on the 25th of May, 2012.
PROJECTS THAT COULD NOT BE ACCOMPLISHED
|Strasbourg cathedral 1982-1985||Images||Documents|
Extract from Véronique David, “Castro et le défi du vitrail”, in In Situ, revue des patrimoines, 2009, n. 12.
“The project for the cathedral of Strasbourg between 1982 and 1985 comes from the initiative of the general inspector of historical monuments François Enaud. In 1982, he proposed to Sergio de Castro the insertion, among ancient stained glasses, works for the three bay windows of the Saint-Laurent and Sainte-Catherine chapels of the cathedral.
Since the 26th May of that same year, the artist presents a project for the big west bay with three lancets of the Saint-Laurent chapel (7,42 x 4,73m), relatively independent from the other four bay windows of the northern side that replaced stained glasses from the XIIIth and XIVth centuries, which came from the ancient church of the Dominican convent of Strasbourg. It’s a great Tree of Jesse, theme that would have made a continuity of the ancient stained glasses dedicated to the emperors and kings of the northern side, next to the chapel. […]
This request aroused a great controversy which only gave Castro enough time to develop the project for Saint-Laurent chapel. In mars 1985, Castro makes a very accurate, 1:10-scale sketch of the composition of the Tree of Jesse, indicating the wideness of the lead bands, and a second sketch with only the Tree leaves. The accomplishment of this stained-glass window was to be made by J. J. K. Ray’s successor, Éric Bonte.
Since the beginning, the project of François Enaud provokes a strong feeling of uneasiness among the heritage services and the bishopric of Strasbourg. […] In addition to that, the 15th of September 1982, the director of Heritage, Christian Pattyn, with the consent of the regional director of Cultural affairs, Gilbert Monteil, expressed the priority that had to be given to the completion of the restoration program of the ancient stained glasses. Finally, the questioning of the artist’s work in Romont by Dr. Pierre Faselle, president of the Society of Friends of the Stained glass museum in Romont, was supported by Jean Favière, then chief curator of Strasbourg Museums who said: “I will not discuss the symbolism of these stained glasses which I find too esoteric and cerebral. I will just simply reproach them for not making fit at all in the church, also for the hues that are not harmonious and too strident, and most of all for plunging this church in such a darkness that muffles the velvety tones slightly fauves of the architectural structure”.
A new element plays a decisive role against the Castro project. Mgr Brand, archbishop of Strasbourg, reminds, the 3rd of May 1985, the existence of ancient stained glasses coming from the Dominicans church of Strasbourg still in the deposit of the museum of the cathedral. They corresponded to those already re-used in the XIXth century on the northern bays of the chapel. […]”
|Nevers cathedral, 1982-1984||Images||Documents|
Extract from Véronique David, « Castro et le défi du vitrail », in In Situ, revue des patrimoines, 2009, n. 12.
The project for replacing the XIXth century stained-glass windows of the cathedral of Nevers […] destroyed by bombs in 1944, is approached for the first time in 1960. This gigantic construction work concerning a 1052 m2 surface made the subject of a long development during which different successive working teams, formed by representatives of Central and Regional Administration (DRAC), tended towards the choice of artists and the specifications, but also made the connection with the clergy and the municipality.
Castro is foreseen for Nevers in the setting of a work team in 1981 under the Michel Parent’s direction, general inspector of Historic Monuments. […]
Since the 24th February 1982, Castro sends graphics to Michel Parent, for all the stained-glass windows of Nevers. The documents are two maps locating the stained glasses in the building, linked to the iconography proposed for the upper bays of the cathedral in his 1982 report, and drawings for monumental figures, especially those of the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel and the Evangelist Matthew.
These documents accompanied a letter in which Castro showed his concern about the absence of general directives regarding iconography “which should be fixed – at least on its outlines – even before thinking about the artists that could work on it. […] It should be first of all known, admitted, studied, meditated upon, accepted and imagined by each artist. Its importance equals the conscience and mastery that each artist has or thinks he has on their creative capacities”. He also insists on the need of employing the traditional technique, excluding the glass slab or other procedures “contrary to the material and the tracery of the cathedral windows”. The artist plans for the lower southern and northern chapels a nivernaise iconography, and for the chorus, the great themes of Christian iconography. […]
The 22nd August 1983, Claude Mollard, delegated for Plastic Arts, officially invites Sergio de Castro to participate in Nevers, joining to his letter a list of other 33 artists or stained-glass painters foreseen for this project. Having received Castro’s acceptance on the 3rd September 1983, Claude Mollard sent him the 15th September 1983 a set of photographs of the bays but, one year later, the 27th September 1984, he announces to him that, due to a matter of unity, his application has been refused in favour of Hantai, Sam Francis and Soulages. In fact, the definitive choice of artists will not be fixed until 1989. […]”