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Louis Davis (May 1860 – 1941) was an English watercolourist, book illustrator and stained-glass artist. He was active in the Arts and Crafts Movement and Nikolaus Pevsner referred to him as the last of the Pre-Raphaelites.
Davis was the son of Gabriel Davis, merchant and manufacturer of East St Helen Street, Abingdon, where Louis was born. Davis was educated at Abingdon School. Recognised as talented, he was awarded a scholarship the following year. Later, he may have received initial training from Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. In 1891 he became an early pupil of the glass artist, Christopher Whall, at his studio in Dorking, and was a central member of Whall's coterie of glass artists. For a time he lived at Whall’s home, which was also his studio. Davis later maintained his own studio and home at Ewelme Cottage, Pinner. He worked with Lowndes and Drury in Chelsea in the late 1890s and early 1900s and later at the Glass House which Mary Lowndes and Alfred J. Drury established to provide studio space for stained glass artists.
From 1886 onwards he was an illustrator, mainly for The English Illustrated Magazine. Davis was a member of the Art Workers Guild. As a painter he had many exhibitions but he attracted controversy when he showed a design for glass at an exhibition of the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours. His work was not appreciated as he had breached the convention that glass work and water-colours did not mix. He resigned as a member of the water colourists (probably around the end of 1910 or early 1911) and concentrated on stained-glass work.
Davis married Edith Webster in the mid-1890s. It is probable that she acted as his model for much of his glass work. Davis became a full-time glass artist, employing one craftsman. By 1900, because of the volume of work, his glass was being made up by James Powell & Sons (also known as Whitefriars Glass), in the City of London.
From 1910 Davis worked with Karl Parsons. Parsons had been Christopher Whall’s pupil-apprentice and became his principal assistant. Parsons with Edward Woore helped illustrate Whall’s book, Stained Glass Work (1905) and photographs of stained glass by Davis were used in the book. In 1915 Louis and Edith were overcome by fumes from a gas fire. He suffered severe damage that robbed him of speech and required the occasional need for a wheelchair. Nevertheless Davis produced some outstanding designs after 1915, including the east window in St Mary’s Church at Rockbeare in Devon and First World War memorial windows at Cheltenham College.
He was a member of the Society of Painters in Tempera.
Among his more important work, in a distinctive Arts' and Crafts' style, was his scheme for glazing the choir windows at Dunblane Abbey (1913); several windows in the chapel of the Order of the Thistle at St Giles' Cathedral, Edinburgh; glasswork at Colmonell Church in Ayrshire; Paisley Abbey; Wemyss Castle; St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin and Welbeck Abbey. He also decorated the private chapels of the Marquess of Londonderry at Wynyard Park, County Durham and the Duchess of Bedford at Woburn Abbey. In southern England examples of Davis's work can be found at Littlemore Church, Oxford (1900); Abingdon School Chapel (1924, inserted 1952); Barton Hartshorn Church near Bicester; Foxley Church, Wiltshire (1901); Stoke Poges Church, Buckinghamshire (1899); St Silas's Church, Kentish Town, London (1900) and at Pinner (1900) and Hatch End Churches (1903–1932) in Middlesex. At All Saints' church, Longstanton, Cambridgeshire a depiction of Faith, Hope and Charity (1938) re-uses the figure of Hope from St Silas's Church. Davis is also believed to have designed the fine memorial window to George Marsden Smedley at Christ Church, Lea, Dethick, Lea and Holloway, Derbyshire (1919).