Branches opened first in London and Paris and then a studio in New York, where the so-called Munich style proved particularly popular. A selection of Zettler panels formed a travelling promotional exhibition that toured North America in the early 20th century, securing orders for more than 50 cathedral churches in the US and Canada.
Two years before the studios closed in 1934, the collection had taken up residence with other smaller-scale works at the Higgins Armory Museum, founded in Worcester, Massachusetts, by local industrialist John Woodman Higgins (1874-1961).
The museum closed due to lack of funding in 2013. West London arms and armour specialist Thomas Del Mar conducted a series of sales to disperse elements of the collection not absorbed by the Worcester Art Museum.
Despite the size of the Zettler operation – by the turn of the century it employed some 600 artisans and glass painters – relatively little appears for sale. In fact, the last tranche of Zettler works at auction was the eight modestly sized panels sold by Del Mar as part of the second Higgins sale in May 2014. They took prices from £800-3200.
The 34 panels and border decorations offered on June 28 this year included spectacular pieces, many of them direct copies of windows from the medieval buildings Zettler studied during extended trips to England, France and Italy. They met multi-estimate bidding. Leading proceedings at £26,000 (estimate £4000-6000), plus 24% buyer’s premium, was the 8ft x 7ft 7in (2.44 x 2.23m) copy of the Death and Burial of the Virgin window made c.1260 for the south side of the nave aisle in Chartres Cathedral, with funds donated by the Shoemakers Guild.
In an iron and wood display frame signed FX Zettler, it sold to the institution that purchased the majority of Zettler lots in the sale. Del Mar said the buyer is planning to include its purchases in a future exhibition.