Troy E F

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1858
Place of birth Edinburgh Scotland
Principal occupation Stained glass painter
Date of death 7th April 1910

E. F. Troy

Two specialist stained glass studios developed during the 1890s. The most exclusively South Australian was that of E.F. Troy. Troy was a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he was born in 1858. Before migrating to Australia he was trained as a wood grainer and interior decorator. It was thus that he established his business in Gawler Place in Adelaide in 1884 and it was for graining that he won first prize at the Adelaide Exhibition in the same year. He was another of the many Scots who wielded great influence on the contemporary arts scene. This influence became particularly strong through the Adelaide School of Art.

Troy's business flourished, though the bulk of his early work seems to have been interior decoration. Amongst his important commissions were the interior decoration of the Archer Street Methodist Church and the Adelaide Town Hall and Council Chamber in 1897. The Lady Altar and its surroundings in St Francis Xavier's Cathedral in 1900 were also Troy's handiwork, along with the main altar and interior decoration of St Columba's Church at Yorketown and the main altar at St Agnes' Church at Marrabel.

However, it is probably for his stained glass windows that Troy is primarily remembered, for many of the door surrounds that grace Adelaide's Victorian villas were from his studio. And it was of this work that the Southern Cross of 1 June 1900 declared that it 'removes from South Australian establishments the stigma that it is necessary to send to other colonies for the more important work of that description'.

In the early years of his business Troy filled any orders for stained glass windows by ordering these from Victorian firms. In the mid-1890s, however, he decided to add stained glass window manufacturing to his business. In 1895 he exhibited stained glass and leadlight windows at the Chamber of Manufactures Exhibition: one of these is still to be found at Cabra Convent. It is not known at this time who Troy employed as his artist, but in 1897 he achieved something of a coup when he engaged H.M. Smyrk 'a decorative artist of high repute'. It is not certain whether or not this is the same Smyrk of the short-lived Victorian firm of Smyrk and Rogers. However, a comparison of their works which feature floral and fruit motifs suggests that this was so. Immediately thereafter Troy secured some important commissions. One of these was for 'two beautiful emblematic' windows for the original St Augustine's Church at Unley. Titled 'The Fruits of the Earth' the windows featured floral designs and were described as 'very artistic productions'. The one that gave him particular pleasure was that for the East window for St George's Anglican Church at Gawler. 'In securing this order', the Southern Cross trumpeted, 'Mr Troy successfully competed with the best English and colonial firms, a fact which speaks volumes for his enterprise and workmanship'. Four months later the Southern Cross was delighted with the result.

The workmanship is of the highest character, and reflects the greatest credit on the enterprise and skill of Mr Troy. The contract price of the window was £200. All the materials used were of colonial manufacture, and the scheme was designed by Mr Smyrk, a late employee of the firm.

It is noteworthy that two of the subjects which were featured in this window, 'The Good Shepherd' and 'The Light of the World', became stock designs and were frequently used by Troy.

Troy was an ardent Catholic — being a founder of the St Vincent de Paul Society, and until 1904 was its president. He was also the first president of the Catholic Club Literary Society, and a director of the Southern Cross and the South Australian Building Society. However, he was also a leader in the wider business community, particularly in those areas which touched upon his business. He was a member of the Chamber of Manufactures, and regularly judged craft works at exhibitions and shows. While his work is well represented in Catholic churches throughout the State it is also to be found in many Anglican churches, including St Luke's in Whitmore Square, City, St Margaret's at Woodville, St John's at Salisbury and St George's at Gawler. Another Smyrk designed window is also to be found in the Kent Town Uniting Church.


Another feature of Troy's legacy is the number of secular windows for which he was responsible. The most significant were from his firm and included the four central lights of the Empire window in the Brookman Hall of the Institute of Technology that was completed in 1903 at a cost of £313.16.5. His firm was also responsible for the Edward VII window in the City of Adelaide Council chambers, and the emblematic windows in Government House that are noteworthy for the use of Australian birds. Other major commissions that do not survive were the extensive windows — 200 feet in length — which were installed in the Clarence (later known as the Majestic) Hotel in King William Street in 1900, and others at the Adelaide Railway Station in 1902. Of particular interest are the many Troy windows that are to be found in homes throughout Adelaide and beyond. Simple door surrounds that feature birds painted on medallions are very common in the villas of Adelaide. Troy also made more elaborate windows for the grander homes. These more elaborately painted scenes are to be found on stair landings and in doors. Invariably they feature European scenes painted on clear glass with enamel paint. The best examples are exquisite.

It appears that many of the small decorative medallions were imported and glazed into windows on demand. For major commissions, however, it seems that Troy called upon the services of particular artists in Adelaide. In 1897, as has been noted, he engaged H.M. Smyrk for two windows for St Ignatius Church at Norwood and the East window of St George's at Gawler. The Empire windows and presumably those at Government House, were the work of another artist, a Scotsman by the name of Elliott. His was not a large workshop. Nor was stained glass his only product. In 1898 he employed only two men and two boys. In 1906 he had but two men, thereby suggesting that the artist was called upon only when commissions required one. In the circumstances it is not surprising that a few basic designs were repeated in many different churches.

Troy died on 7 April 1910. For a time the business was carried on by his sons but it finally closed during the period of the Great War. One of his sons, William, enlisted in the A.I.F. and was killed overseas. The equipment, and it appears the designs, were purchased by the firm of Thompson and Harvey that had hitherto specialised in glass bevelling but thereafter became one of South Australia's important stained glass and leadlight workshops. Ron Washington, a long-time employee of Thompson and Harvey, started with this firm as a lad and remembered seeing the name of Troy on much of the stained glass equipment.

Article compiled by: Geoff Watson

Acknowledged Source: 150 Years of Stained & Painted Glass – Peter & June Donovan.

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