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The former Dowanhill Church, built in 1865 by William Leiper (1839-1916), is an exceptional example of Victorian design and artistic workmanship. It is an important Category ‘A’ listed building, of international importance due to its decorative scheme and stained glass designed by Daniel Cottier (1838-1891).
Over three decades up until his premature death in 1891 Daniel Cottier pioneered the Aesthetic Movement, an art movement in the second half of the nineteenth century known for its maxim ‘Art for Art’s Sake’. The reputation of his firm Cottier & Co extended beyond Scotland after he created design houses and galleries on Pall Mall in London, 5th Avenue New York and in Australia where he entered into partnership with John Lamb Lyon forming the famous Australian firm Lyon Cottier & Co active mainly in Sydney and Melbourne.
Among the wide range of Cottiers ‘contacts’ was the young Vincent Van Gogh who wrote to his brother recording his admiration for two Cottier windows he saw at the London branch of the firm.
One of Daniel Cottier’s many talents was that of a picture dealer. The following posthumous description was written by an American who knew him personally; “He was, in every way, a singular and powerful personality, this son of a Manx sailor, who became one of the most potent factors in the advancement in the cause of art the world has ever known.”
Dowanhill Church, now Cottiers, in Glasgow is the best example of the Daniel Cottier’s early work as a decorator and glass designer to survive. In 2011 Four Acres Charitable Trust collaborated with Historic Scotland to produce a widely researched and well-illustrated case study about the history of Cottiers.
This book gives equal prominence to the building’s architect William Leiper after whom the restaurant at Cottiers, Leiper’s Attic, is named. He was a more retiring Scotsman than Cottier and rarely left his native land to travel far afield but the influence of buildings he must have seen when he did travel is most evident in his Templeton’s Carpet Factory façade on Glasgow Green, based on the Doge’s Palace in Venice, selected for the cover of the Blue Guide to Victorian Architecture in Britain.
Capable of performing successfully in a wide range of styles, William Leiper was notable in the use of sculpture and colour on the inside and outside of his buildings. Inspired as he was by the celebrated English architect William Burges, Leiper adorned his buildings with stained glass and decoration and continued to collaborate with Daniel Cottier in Scotland during those years when Cottier was spreading his own influence into other continents.