Leadlights and Sydney craftsman James Moroney
Leadlight is a decorative glass often used for windows. Small sections of glass - coloured, clear, obscured, bevelled, textured or etched - are braced in lead cames (frames) to create both figurative and abstract patterns. Leadlight is often confused with stained glass, which is glass that is painted and then fired in a kiln to fix the design.
Leadlight became closely associated with Federation-style architecture of the early 20th century and was used mostly in front doors, fanlights and side lights, but also in internal doors and windows and some glass-fronted cabinet furniture. After World War II the use of decorative glass waned due to both more chastened economic circumstances and the popularity of functionalist, open planned interiors.
The leadlight designs produced by James Moroney (c1876–1932) in Sydney during the 1920s and early 30s are typical of the decorative glass found in Sydney bungalows at the time, with designs that mostly depict simple floral motifs or non-figural geometric shapes. The Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection holds over 60 original designs by Moroney. Moroney was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, migrated to South Australia about 1901 and eventually set up a leadlight business in the Sydney suburb of Randwick in 1921.