Help Needed: Leo Cartwright

For some time now I have been running across the name of a liturgical artist in my architectural research on the churches of the mid-20th century: Leo Cartwright. He seems to have been quite active in the late 1950s and early 1960s and worked often with architect Edward Schulte. His artwork has appeared in the cathedrals in Lexington, Kentucky and La Crosse, Wisconsin as well as the Basilica of Queen of All Saints in Chicago. He also designed the cartoon for at least one stained glass window that I know of.

His work draws quite clearly from the late medieval and very early renaissance traditions as well as the Eastern iconic school. But at the same time there is a clarity of color and a modern sensibility about the work. His children's altar at the LaCrosse Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman shown here illustrates the children of the world in their traditional dress adoring Christ on the lap of his mother. The fine detail of the images as well as the decorative painting of the frame and setting are really extraordinary, particularly given the date: 1960.
His stations of the cross, also shown here, are installed in the Lexington cathedral and show a dramatically modern use of composition and color while remaining part of a beautiful, continuous tradition. I think that today's traditional artists at work today could learn from his creations.

However, in my research I have found very little about him. At least at one time he lived in Carmel, California, yet the artist's guild out there has no record of him. Is there anyone out there who may have an information on this man?


  1. I did a little searching on line and found his name listed in an artist's clippings file in the Monterrey Public Library in California. Good luck!

  2. I've no direct info, but perhaps the folks at the Charles J. Connick Stained Glass Foundation might be of help? A photo in the Oct 2001 issue of the Connick Windows newsletter shows Mr. Cartwright working in the Connick Studio ...

  3. Real art instead of felt banners! Hooray! And I love the Byzantine influence.

    -- Mack

  4. Thanks very much Anonymous and Mary. These are helpful leads and I'll let you know what I find out. I guess CMR readers are the smartest in the world!

  5. DMac - Have a copy of your new book and I am learning much...the research is awesome. The images too... a church here in Houston, St. Michael's by Schulte circa 1960's also has a set of stations painted by apparently Mr. Cartwrigth....the style of portraiture is identical, though there is an interesting overlaid tinting in a grid pattern on the gilded background fields ....never seen that elsewhere before or since. I've found no signature on them but the portraiture and dramatic composition style is basically identical.

    By the way, St. Michael's in Houston is amazingly similar in look, feel and design to Christ the King in Lexington, for which you show in your book several images, including stations by Cartwright. Here, with the city being touted then as "Space City", that vibe is mirrored throughout in that strain of mid century modernism.

    Greg Haas

  6. Leo Cartwright not only did the Children's altar in the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse but he also designed the stained glass windows in the nave of the Cathedral. He worked with Edward Schulte, architect, and Erhard Stoettner of the T. C. Esser Company out of Milwaukee which is now the Oakbrook Esser Company. In the book, Craftsmen of Wisconsin by Bertha Kitchell Whyte, a foot note on p. 170 states that he was born in Dublin in 1899 and studied art at the Harry Clarke Studio where he became the head designer. He designed the stained glass for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC in 1927 while sorking for Charles J. Connick of Boston. He worked for T.C. Esser from 1942-1951. Then he had his studio in Carmel until he retired in England in 1965 and died in Ibberton, England in 1967. We have posted a video on our web site which may be of interest to you. It is narrated by Fr. Thomas Reardon who was one of the designers of the windows. Mr. Cartwright did the drawings and Erhard Stoettner executed all the windows. I am looking for a colored photo of Mr. Cartwright and would appreciate a reference where I might find one. The cover of the book Catholic Church Architecture and the Spirit of the Liturgy on this page is a pane of one of our windows drawn by Mr. Cartwright.


Post a Comment