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 Charles William Kelsey  (1877 - 1975)

About: Charles William Kelsey


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Lived/Active: Quebec/New York / Canada      Known for: stain glass window design, easel and mural painting, graphics, illustration

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
Royal Air Force, stained glass, 71" x 20"
Courtesy of Mountainside United Church, Montreal, Quebec
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Charles William Kelsey was a designer of stained glass windows, painter, muralist, graphic artist and illustrator.  He was born in London, England and died in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He emigrated to New York City in 1911 and lived and worked there until returning to England in 1919.  He emigrated to Montreal in 1922 where he lived and worked for the rest of his life (1).

His mediums included oil, watercolor and most famously stained glass windows.  His stained glass designs were all commissions many having to do with, memorials for soldiers in World War I and II, religion, allegory*, symbolism* and history.  They can be found in churches, public buildings and homes in Canada, England, Australia, Belize and the United States.  It is estimated he designed over 300 windows in total.

His art education includes studies at Camden School of Art, London (1896 - 1903) and apprenticeship with several firms in England.  He also taught drawing and gave lectures in Canada and the United States.

He exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1922 - 1947), the Canadian Society of Graphic Art* (1924 - 1927) and the Art Association of Montreal (2) (1923 to 1941 and 1943 to 1945) .

The McCord Museum of Canadian History, Montreal is the home of his archives.  A master’s thesis done by Shirley May Baird titled “The Stained Glass War Memorial Windows of Charles William Kelsey” (1994) also includes a comprehensive study of his life and work based on interviews with his daughter and family archives.  It is on file at Concordia University, Montreal available in PDF at -  // .

Since Charles Kelsey was primarily a stained glass artist, photo examples of works in museums are non existent.  The photo on his AskART summary page one was taken off the site of the Mountainside United Church site (formerly the The Erskine and American Church, Montreal, Quebec).  The site documents 41 windows of the church, 11 done by Kelsey, 23 by Tiffany and the rest by others.  They appear to be also recorded by the Metropolitan Museum, NYC.  The one attached is the best image of a Kelsey window and illustrates the discussion in the biography.


(1) He returned to New York to work from 1925 to 1926 and from 1939 to 1940 however his family remained in their Montreal home. Source: Shirley May Baird  (see above noted thesis).

(2) The AAM became the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1948.

 * For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

 Prepared and contributed by M.D.Silverbrooke with research assistance by Cheryl Siegel -  Librarian, Vancouver Art Gallery.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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