Last edited 09 Aug 2020

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Institute of Historic Building Conservation Institute / association Website

Kempe: the life, art and legacy of Charles Eamer Kempe

Charles eamer kemp j 290.jpg

Kempe: the life, art and legacy of Charles Eamer Kempe, Adrian Barlow, Lutterworth Press, 2018, 312 pages, black and white and colour illustrations, softback.


CE Kempe is one of the most important figures in late Victorian and Edwardian church art, and this study of his work has been long awaited. Emerging from the arts-and-crafts movement, the Kempe style can be found in churches across the UK and worldwide, and relied on the circle of artists and craftsmen who were inspired by and interpreted his designs. Known principally for his stained glass, Kempe was also responsible for other types of church decoration: wall paintings, furnishings and vestments. Adrian Barlow’s meticulous research reveals the extent and quality of his work. The book combines biography with an assessment of his art and legacy, and a gazetteer lists his corpus. In the book Barlow challenges the criticism Kempe’s work received in the mid-20th century which was reflected in Pevsner’s lukewarm response to his stained glass in some of the early Buildings of England volumes, and he rightfully restores Kempe’s reputation to where it belongs.


This article originally appeared in IHBC's Context 164 (Page 53), published by The Institute of Historic Building Conservation in March 2020. It was written by Context’s reviews editor, Peter de Figueiredo.

--Institute of Historic Building Conservation

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