Diego Semprun Nicolas


Diego Semprun Nicolas is a fifth generation glass painter from a family renowned for its windows since 1855. His grandfather, Joep Nicolas, won the "Grand Prix des Arts et Métiers" in Paris in 1925 and started a great career as an innovator in window design. He also was known as "the father of modern stained glass" in America in the 40' and 50' before moving back to the Netherlands where he had major commissions from the early fifties on. Diego was born in Paris, raised in the Netherlands and moved to the United States with his family in 1968. In 1972-1974, ack in Paris he studied art and then moved to New York where he lived until 1990. In New York, he studied art, painted, belonged to life drawing classes and worked on many different art projects in fine and commercial art. In 1990, he moved to New Hampshire where his mother, Sylvia Nicolas, lived, whom he had assisted with window projects a few times. Diego started his glass painting, working with his mother on a chuch in St. James, New York. He painted his first window and slowly, the commissions came.?In 1995, he and his mother went to the Netherlands to paint a window in the St Pancratius church in Tubbergen. In this Church there were already windows from the previous four generations. The window Diego painted was admired and he received a commission to paint five more windows the following year. At the same time, Tubbergen was planning an artistic event based around glass, exhibition featuring slumped glass, painted glass, design glass and much more. The people organising this asked if Diego would be interested in opening a studio in Tubbergen. Since 1998, Tubbergen has Atelier Semprun Nicolas and Diego now has made windows for churches in various parts of the Netherlands and has windows in private collections in America, Geramny, the Netherlands and France.
"In my work, I try to give new meaning to the tradition of painting on glass and stained glass window design. The work expresses a chaotic balance and has its roots in painters which I have admired over the years although I like mixing to create my own expression. The composition is usually the focal point wether I am designing a church window or an abstract window for myself. I use hand blown glass only and the construction is usually the same as it has always been for stained glass windows as I find there are still plenty of discovery's to be made in the painting and design of this medium." After an exhibition in 2004 in Boston (U.S.) for the Stained Glass Association of America, Diego is working on the fifth large windows for the Cathedral of Roermond. Les Maîtres Verriers Hollandais Contemporains

Posted 25 November 2013

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The Windows for Denekamp

"Around end July 2012 I was called by the provincial head of the Franciscan sisters of Denekamp, the Netherlands, about making a window for them. I informed her that it would be my pleasure and we made an appointment for her to come and see me with some people from the foundations who run the retirement homes on the property in Denekamp.

When I had shown them around in my studio we talked about what they wanted for the chapel being built. As this was part of a new complex on their compound to house seniors and the elderly would be the main visitors of the chapel it had been decided that a clear and easily understood visual language would have to be used. Although I do enjoy making abstract works I also find it a challenge to work figuratively and give a window a contemporary feel through other and more subtle means.

Of course it was going to be a Saint Francis the sisters being a Franciscan order.
This was the first of several meetings and the next meeting a few months later was in Denekamp at the old house/convent and we discussed the window which grew from one to two.
I also got the building plans and could therefore calculate enough dimensions to do a first sketch of a window for St. Francis and a window for St. Martin of Tours as one of the foundations commissioning me was the St. Martin foundation.
After discussing it I went home and then started diving into the iconography of St. Franciscus and St. Martin. And of course for St. Franciscus there are so many possibilities that it had to be narrowed down, at first both windows where going to be St. Franciscus and I decided I would split it up with St. Francis and the animals and also the Holy Man taking care of the sick, or his work with people.
Another meeting followed and it was decided one window for Saint Francis and another one for Saint Martin.
I made a sketch depicting St. Francis and a wolf, a donkey, some geese and some birds flying in the sunset and underneath the old house of the sisters and two of their good works: missionary works and education. The sketch for the window on the other side of the chapel was St. Martin of Tours on a rearing horse cutting his mantle and giving a part to a beggar. The sisters’ good works depicted underneath in front of the St. Josef home here are care for the elderly and the ill.

I was asked to have the windows primarily done in warm colours, of course it’s difficult if one portrays sisters as the habits are black, I made the depictions of the Saints framed in a sort of yellow cloud floating above the depictions of the sisters and their works.
Blue sky separating them so that the warm ambers seem even warmer due to the contrast. Both sketches where enthusiastically received and some changes were made… I originally had a small pig instead of a donkey and I didn’t have a sunset or seven birds in the windows etc.
I showed the changed sketch and could go off to buy glass. All the glass used is ? as I always do ? 99% blown antique glass. I always paint on this as the colours are the best and the glass seems alive with all the ripples and air bubbles in it. But for me the glass never really comes alive till it’s painted. Still, I am always very careful with my colours and I like to use warm rich colours which do not have an acidic tint; turquoise is difficult as it can dominate other colours as can some yellows and orange; my yellows are generally close to the amber range and my reds are either red on white or red on yellow überfang (flashed glass editor) as they have my favourite shades. If I can I use überfang with a gradient from dark to very light in one sheet. Once I got the glass I was ready to start production. We first make a second drawing and then cut it with a three-knife scissor so that about two millimetres are cut out between the pieces of thick paper we use as a form of template for the glass pieces; each piece is numbered with the catalogue number of the colour for the glass I use so that we know exactly which piece is which cooler and also a window frame code is used such as l1, l2, or l3 for the panels on the left r1, r2 for the panels on the right window. When the glass for the panels is cut I paste them on a clear piece of glass with beeswax in position so that I have the whole panel ready to put in my framework in front of the window so I can paint it vertically with daylight, natural light. I find this the best way to judge the colours and what effect the painting gives. One still has to have a very clear imagination as the pieces look subtly different when the paint is baked in.
Once the glass pieces come out of the oven silver stain is applied where needed and sometimes an accent in email and when those come out of the kiln the pieces are ready to be put in lead came and soldered and kitted (cemented). At the moment I have painted and burned 7 of the 8 panels and have just cut the 8 panels. We have started leading and not a moment too soon as I start painting a 10 meter high window for the cathedral in Roermond next week. This means I will be gone most days of the week and only have a day or so a week to work on other projects such as Denekamp. I will go and pick up the iron frame where I am mounting the panels before we attach them to the aluminium frame which houses the isolation glass. When that is done the project will be finished and I think the whole project will be ready end of December or in January some time.
Of course different problems arose while I was working on this project such as the architects having used black brick for the wall which sticks out behind the glass and would make it impossible to see the window for the people sitting in the chapel.
Also the people at the back of the chapel will have difficulty seeing because of the angle. These are common problems because although an architect hears that there will be glass art installed, they rarely do anything that makes it easier. Of course this also has to do with budget and people finding out late that there is money to do an artwork in a project. As I always look at the location before embarking on such a project, I suggested the inside of the black brick wall be painted white so the windows are more visible. This way one can also illuminate the wall and then the windows all will be visible for a night mass or on a dark day."
Diego Semprun Nicolas

Diego Semprun Nicolas

2013 Denekamp design and producing 4 windows St. Christoffel, Roermond, beginning painting the stained glass at Atelier Flos, Steyl
2012-now Denekamp: St. Franciscus and St. Martin stained glass windows
2012 Last of 4 windows Maria choir, St. Christoffel, Roermond: The Magnificat
2010 Third window for Maria choir, St. Christoffel, Roermond: Regina Coeli
2009 Stained glass windows St. Bonifatius, Hengelo
2008 5 windows for the absis, H. Bonifatius, Rijswijk, realised by Atelier Flos, Steyl
2007-2008 2nd window St. Christoffel, Roermond: Tree of Jesse
2007 Triptych ‘De Verlossing’ for De Ark van Urk, new protestant church realized by Atelier Flos in Limburg
2005 ‘Stella Maris’, first window Maria choir, St. Christoffel, Roermond, painted at Atelier Derix, Kevelaer (DE)
2004 ‘Pinksteren’, window for the H. Bonifatius in Haaksbergen
2002-2003 ‘Verrijzenis’ Haaksbergen and 3 windows included ‘De Ramp van Borculo’ for the St. Michael in Borculo
2001-2002 Stained glass windows for the tower St. Pancratius, Tubbergen, and 5 windows for fashion store Roetgerink in Enter
2000 For the Franciscan Sisters 2 windows in De Eeshof, Tubbergen
1999 Loflied van Daniël, window in the tower, St. Pancratiusbasiliek, Tubbergen, and 2 windows for the Kristalkerk in Hengelo
1998 Opening Atelier Tubbergen
1996 4 windows for the day-chapel St. Pancratius, Tubbergen
1995 The Good Shepherd, St. Pancratius, Tubbergen
1993 windows for the Charity chapel Nashua, New Hampshire (US)
1989-1990 assistant of Sylvia Nicolas
1990 Rohlf’s stained glass studio, Mount Vernon, NY (US). Cutting, designed window for the St. Phillip, St. James (US). Worked as an assistant for all 35 windows
Before working in glass, artist and graphic artist in New York City.

1972-1973 Académie Goetz, Paris (FR), free painting academy
1973-1974 École Supérieure des arts modernes, Paris (FR)
1977-1978 Academy for Industrial Design, Eindhoven (NL)
1978-1981 life drawing Salmagundi Club and NY Academy, New York (US)

1997-2012 Glasrijk Tubbergen
2011 Domani, Venlo, exposition together with Sylvia Nicolas, free stained glass panels
2010 de Graanzolder, Haaksbergen, group exposition
2008 De Graanzolder, Haaksbergen
2006 Museum voor Vlakglas- en Emaillekunst, Ravenstein
2004 ‘Les Maîtres Verriers Hollandais Contemporains’, Musée d’Art et d’Archéologie du Périgord, Périgueux (FR)
2004 Exposition centre of ‘Les Compagnons’, Limoges (FR)
2003 Glas in Historisch Licht, Horn
2003 Oosterkerk, Amsterdam, group exposition

Works in private collections in the US, Germany, France and the Netherlands

Atelier Semprun Nicolas
Industriestraat 13
NL-7651 AN Tubbergen

Diego Semprun Nicolas: painting the windows for Denekamp, 2013

Diego Semprun Nicolas: details windows Denekamp, 2013

Diego Semprun Nicolas: the making of the windows for Denekamp, 2013

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