Stained Glass and Manuscripts at the Getty Museum
Comparisons between stained glass and French manuscript illumination of the Middle Ages are explored in a new exhibition at the Getty Center Museum in Los Angeles, California, USA. Running from 23 January to 15 April 2007, the exhibition examines 25 manuscripts and leaves from the museum’s collection and locates them within their contemporary artistic setting. One aim is to show how book illuminators, glass painters, even tapestry designers, shared similar artistic ideas and designs.
‘Two pairings stand out in particular for medieval glass enthusiasts,’ Thomas Kren, the Museum’s Curator of Manuscripts, told Vidimus. ‘The first comparison between artists working in different media is drawn from around 1300. We are showing a manuscript painting of the Annunciation from an early fourteenth-century prayer-book known as the Ruskin Hours alongside a painting on glass of the head of a young man, both originally from eastern France. The prevailing conventions of how artists drew faces, and especially hair, is very apparent in these two examples [figs 1 and 2].
‘The second pairing shows manuscript and glass painters working in what is called the International Gothic style of around 1400. This time the painting of the Annunciation is attributed to a follower of the Parisian artist known only as the Mazarine Master, after a Book of Hours in the Mazarine Library in Paris. At the same time, we are comparing it with a glass painting of the same period, possibly from Bourges, showing an unidentified female figure, which shares some notable similarities with this masterpiece. Figures in this period could be extremely elegant with long flowing golden hair and sinuous contours [figs 3 and 4].
‘Although very different from one another in terms of material, technique and how they would be seen by their audience, both works of art highlight how stylistic ideas were not only shared by medieval artists, but also created and copied across different media.’
We are indebted to the J. Paul Getty Trust for their kind permission to reproduce these images.
For further details about visiting the exhibition, visit the Institute’s website.
Although there is no catalogue of the exhibition itself, the Getty Museum is publishing a well-illustrated catalogue of its French illuminated manuscripts to coincide with this event: Thomas Kren, French Illuminated Manuscripts in the J. Paul Getty Museum. For further details of this, see the Books & Websites page for this issue.
Beauty and Madness in Bruges
Two important panels of Flemish stained from c.1500 are among fifty Flemish masterpieces that can be seen at a spectacular exhibition of medieval art showing between the 26 January and the 4 February 2007 in the Church of our Lady, Bruges, Belgium. Timed to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Philip I’s death, Beauty and Madness examines art created during the reign of the Bruges-born monarch, Philip the Fair (the last Duke of Burgundy, Archduke of Austria, and King of Castile) and his Spanish wife, Joan the Mad. Together with portrait paintings, tapestries, and manuscripts, the glass panels add a dazzling dimension into the role that art played in the lives of this well known sovereign and those around him.
Such themes are reinforced in the exhibition venue itself, as The Church of our Lady contains the magnificent sepulchral monuments of Philip’s ancestors, Charles the Bold and Mary of Burgundy, together with choir stalls surmounted by the panels of the chivalric order associated with the Burgundian Dukes, the Knights of the Golden Fleece. ‘Beauty and Madness’ is being held in conjunction with another fascinating exhibition in the connecting Palace of Louis de Gruuthuse. Called ‘Faith & Fortune’ it explores the connection between medieval jewellery and devotion. 550 late medieval badges and 250 devotional objects, including sculpture and goldsmith’s work, add to the riches on display.
The March issue of Vidimus will illustrate the exhibited glass. For further details of the exhibitions, visit one of the following websites.
Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education is holding two separate day schools in June 2007 focusing on medieval art and architecture in two Augustinian shrine churches in the county, including the surviving stained glass.
On Saturday 16 June, the day will be devoted to St Frideswide’s, the building now known as Christ Church (Oxford Cathedral). Ellie Pridgeon, who teaches at Bristol and Leicester universities, will lecture on the fittings of the church, including its Becket Window and other medieval glass in the Latin Chapel. The event will include a trip to the church. On Saturday 23 June, the day will concentrate on St Birinus and Dorchester Abbey, including its well known fourteenth-century Jesse window and other important medieval glass. As with the previous day-school, Ellie Pridgeon will lecture on the fittings and a visit to the church is included in the event.
For further details, including fees, visit www.conted.ox.ac.uk. For further reading on the glass from these churches, see P. A. Newton, The County of Oxford, CVMA Great Britain, I, Oxford, 1970.