A new exhibition at the Museum Centre in Lorsch, 10 km east of Worms in the German Rhineland, features some of the most exciting stained glass in Europe. The exhibition is entitled Kloster Lorsch Vom Reichskloster Karls des Großen zum Weltkulturerbe der Menschheit (Lorsch Abbey: from Imperial Foundation of Charlegmane to Cultural Heritage Site for All). Jointly organised by the Hessian State Museum in Darmstadt and the Administration of State Palaces and Gardens Hesse, the exhibition also includes other treasures from the former imperial abbey including manuscripts, architectural sculpture, and metalwork.
The glass was among hundreds of fragments found by the distinguished archaeologist, Friedrich Behn (1883 -1970), during excavations in the south-eastern part of the monastery in 1934. The discoveries included ornamental patterns, parts of a green dragon and pieces which have been reconstructed to form the head of a bearded saint. Together with fragments depicting feet and coloured clothes the finds may be part of a sitting or standing bearded saint, painted as early as the ninth-century [Figs 3 & 4].
The glass is thought to date from between the ninth and eleventh centuries. It could have been made for a ninth-century funerary chapel, or for the chapel which replaced it in 1052. Another possibility is that it was designed for the nave clerestory of the abbey church, which was rebuilt after 1090.
Other finds from the site shown in the exhibition include unpainted glass and ornamental grisaille, possibly from 1266.
The glass is discussed and illustrated in a separate chapter by Thomas Foerster in a sumptious catalogue of the exhibition (Kloster Lorsch: Vom Reichskloster Karls des Großen zum Weltkulturerbe der Menschheit). This book is in German, has 520 pages and currently costs £24.94 from Amazon Books
The exhibition is open Tuesday – Sundays 10.00 -17.00. It will close on the 29th January 2012.
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