Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
Stained Glass Window Designs c. 1881
Commissioned by William Morris


Designs for a series of stained glass windows, commissioned by William Morris, in the early 1880s. The windows were intended to decorate a new estate named Vinland, built by hardware and tobacco heiress Catherine Lorillard Wolfe on Ochre Point Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island. The theme of the estate was inspired by the rumored viking origins of the "Old Stone Mill" located there. Upon her death in 1887, Ms. Wolfe was one of the major contributors of art to the fledgling New York Metropolitian Museum of Art. 

The main panels illustrate the Norse gods Thor, Odin and Freyr, and three viking explorers: þorfinnr karlsefni, Guðríðr þorbjarnardóttir, and Liefr Eiríksson. The top of the panel depicted a viking ship at sail, flanked by runic inscriptions.
Designed by Edward Burne-Jones, the panels were duly installed but since dismantled. Six of them are reproduced in Malcolm Bell, Burne-Jones, a Record and Review, 1894, opposite p. 68.  Biographer A.C. Sewter has said that the seven Burne-Jones windows were removed in 1934 and sold in 1937 to the Cohen Brothers of Baltimore. One panel, Leif the Lucky, is now owned by Mr. Otis Beall Kent of Maryland. The rest are untraced. The window survives in seven gray Burne-Jones cartoons owned by the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The one held by the Carlisle Art Gallery is entitled "The Voyage to Vinland the Good." Studies for the three Norse gods were sold at auction.

The Voyage to Vinland the Good


The Odin panel realized
by Scottish Artist Brian James Waugh



The "Vinland Adventurers"
þorfinnr karlsefni, Guðríðr þorbjarnardóttir, and Liefr Eiríksson
Letters of William Morris

April 11, 1883:
"I propose Odin Thor and Frey the three great Gods above the adventurers of Vinland; & in the small lights, a ship the middle, & on each side a scroll, with the passages from Hávamál (Edda) about undying fame on it."
April 15, 1885:
"Gudrinn is holding a rune-staff because in the Thorfinns saga in the part about the 'little vala' it says that Gudrinn was wise in ancient lore and incantation. The background to the heroes is a conventional representation of the sea. The inscription on Gudrinns' rune-staff is only pictorial & can't be read."
The Full Set of Designs
Details of the Cartoons