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Advance News: German Renaissance Stained Glass Exhibition

7 November 2007 – 17 February 2008 

The Sunley Room, National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London. 

Admission free 

Abbey of Mariawald, Germany (The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, inv. 325-1928). © V&A Images\V&A Museum, London

Abbey of Mariawald, Germany (The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, inv. 325-1928). © V&A Images\V&A Museum, London

An important exhibition putting some of the finest examples of German stained glass from the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries next to a selection of German paintings of the same period will open at the National Gallery in London on 7 November 2007, and will last until 17 February 2008. Drawing on the extensive collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, the exhibition will show that designers of stained-glass windows were also sometimes painters of panel pictures, and highlight the similarities of imagery and visual innovation found in the two media. Contemporary window designs will be among the exhibits. By exploring these similarities and some of the differences between the two media, this exhibition will open visitors’ eyes to the lost worlds of Medieval and Renaissance Germany. 

‘It was a period of immense visual creativity,’ explains Terry Bloxham, Assistant Curator for stained glass at the Victoria & Albert Museum. ‘A number of artists and workshops contributed designs for other artists to use in stained glass or panel paintings. The exhibition will feature outstanding examples from the cloisters at the Mariawald Abbey in the Lower Rhine area of Germany, dated to about 1520-21, and slightly later examples (c. 1525) from the abbey at Steinfeld, also in the Lower Rhine. I hope visitors will be astonished and delighted by the quality of the painting. 

Selby Abbey: ‘Special Relationship’ Renewed

That image: US marines with the stars and stripes on Iwo Jima..

That image: US marines with the stars and stripes on Iwo Jima..

A panel at Selby Abbey (Yorkshire) depicting a shield of arms often thought to constitute the model for the US ‘stars and stripes’ has been conserved recently. The panel is likely to attract more attention than previously following the release of ‘Flags of our Fathers’, Clint Eastwood’s film about the battle for Iwo Jima, one of the most crucial and bloody battles in the Pacific during the Second World War. The moment of victory was immortalized in a now iconic photograph of US marines raising the American flag on the island in 1945. 

Conserved at Keith Barley Studios, the panel shows a white shield charged with two red bars and having three red mullets or stars above, each with a hole in the centre; these are sometimes thought to represent spur-rowels. The blazon for these arms would be Argent two bars gules, with three mullets of the second in chief

That panel: perhaps the inspiration for the ‘stars and stripes’.

That panel: perhaps the inspiration for the ‘stars and stripes’.

These are the arms of a family from County Durham, the Washingtons of Washington. In later centuries, a branch of the family continued to bear the arms after leaving their home in the north-east, first for Sulgrave (Northamptonshire) and eventually, in the mid-seventeenth century, for a new life in Virginia. One of the family’s descendants, George Washington, later used the same arms on at least two of his personal seals and in a bookplate. Some scholars have speculated that the arrangement may also have inspired the design of the official flag of the newly independent United States as unfurled on 14 June 1777 – thirteen stars arranged in a circle around thirteen red and white stripes representing the original colonies – though the real history of the stars and stripes is rather more complex. 

For further information about the panel, visit the Selby Abbey website, and for more information about the glazing of the east window of the abbey, see David O’Connor and Henrietta Reddish Harris, ‘The East Window of Selby Abbey, Yorkshire,’ in Yorkshire Monasticism: Archaeology, Art and Architecture, ed. Lawrence R. Hoey, BAA Conference Transactions, 16, 1995, pp. 117–44 with plates. 

Apart from the ‘Washington window’, Selby Abbey also contains other important medieval glass, illustrated in the CVMA (GB) Picture Archive

The West Window at Colyton (Devon)

Friends of St Andrew’s Church, Colyton (Devon) have launched an appeal to help fund the restoration of the church’s west window. 

Fragments of medieval glass in the east window of the Lady Chapel at St Andrew, Colyton (Devon). By permission of the Friends of St Andrew’s Church, Colyton.

Fragments of medieval glass in the east window of the Lady Chapel at St Andrew, Colyton (Devon). By permission of the Friends of St Andrew’s Church, Colyton.

The west window at St Andrew, Colyton (Devon), showing the elegant inclusion of the west door. By permission of the Friends of St Andrew’s Church, Colyton

The west window at St Andrew, Colyton (Devon), showing the elegant inclusion of the west door. By permission of the Friends of St Andrew’s Church, Colyton

The church has Saxon origins and retains part of a rare tenth-century Anglo-Saxon cross that has a shaft decorated with a bird and a lion on the front and interlaced decoration on the sides. Around 1430–60, the building underwent major modifications: an octagonal tower was added to a Norman base and the west window was constructed. Below the tracery the window consists of nine lights, grouped in threes by two mullions and divided in three parts horizontally by two transoms. The sill is about 4ft from the ground, and the west door takes up the lowest horizontal division of the central three lights. The glazing of the west window was renewed in 1893 and completed in 1908–1909. Documents surviving in the church include the original watercolour vidimus and the names of the sponsors of the main panels. The church also houses some fragments of medieval glass, in the east window of the Lady Chapel 

For more information, please contact Mr J. Forrester-Addie: john-pam [at] coly99 [dot] freeserve [dot] co [dot] uk. For more about St Andrews, see B. Cherry and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Devon, Harmondsworth, 1989 (2nd edn), pp. 279–80.

Two Lectures to Catch: Victoria & Albert Museum and the Ely Stained Glass Museum

Glaziers Hall

Glaziers Hall

Dr Paul Williamson, Keeper of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass at the Victoria & Albert Museum, will be the guest speaker at a lecture and supper event at the Worshipful Company of Glaziers Company on Monday, 12 March 2007 at 6:15 p.m. He will talk about the Victoria & Albert Museum’s collections of glass, the current exhibitions, and plans for new galleries to display material not currently accessible.

To book a place and for details and information about charges for the lecture contact: The Clerk’s Office, Glaziers Hall, 9 Montague Close, London Bridge, London SE1 9DD. 020 7403 6652 (also fax) email: info [at] worshipfulglaziers [dot] com.

The Ely Stained Glass Museum’s Fourth Annual Lecture, 2007, will be held at: St Ethelburga’s Church, Bishopsgate, London, 26 March, 2007, 5.30 pm. The subject will be ‘Parish, Community and Faith in Medieval York: All Saints, North Street and its Windows’, and the lecture will be given by David O’Connor, CVMA (GB) author and lecturer at Manchester University.

David O’Connor will take a broad view of the building, the parish, the architecture and the imagery in its widest sense. Tickets are available in advance for £4, or on the door for £5. Tea will be served from 4.30pm, and the lecture will follow at 5.30pm. To reserve a ticket, email events [at] stainedglassmuseum [dot] com.

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