- Rhenish Glass: Masterpieces of the Renaissance Exhibition Opens
- Light and Color: The Forest Lawn Stained Glass Collection
- Valentin Bousch Window Sold in Vancouver, Canada
- The Great East Window of York Minster under the Microscope
- Much Marcle Stained Glass Day, 2 June 2007
- Shrewsbury Lecture Reminder
- Dürer Exhibition
Rhenish Glass: Masterpieces of the Renaissance Exhibition Opens
As we go on-line the long awaited exhibition Rheinische Glasmalerei. Meisterwerke der Renaissance has opened at the Schnütgen Museum in Cologne, Germany. For the first time since they were dispersed two hundred years ago, 120 panels of magnificent sixteenth-century glass from the cloisters of the monasteries and convents of Altenberg, St. Apern, Mariawald and Steinfeld have been reunited in a stunning display of glass-painting virtuosity. A sumptuously illustrated two-volume has also been produced to accompany the exhibition.
The exhibition includes major loans from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and from St Mary’s Church in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, which featured in issue 6 of Vidimus. The exhibition will close on 29 July. For details of opening times, admission fees and other information visit the museum’s website.
A full review of the exhibition will appear in the next issue of Vidimus.
Light and Color: The Forest Lawn Stained Glass Collection
Rare thirteenth-century windows will be among a number of important medieval stained glass panels exhibited at Forest Lawn Museum, California, between 23 April and 5 November 2007. Highlights include an example of a stained glass panel created from drawings by the German artist Albrecht Dürer dating back to the beginning of the sixteenth century, and several French windows made before 1300. This medieval stained glass forms part of a larger event that also chronicles the achievements of American stained-glass artists, including nativity windows by Heinigke & Smith (1937), created from designs by the illustrator William Pogany. The display will also illustrate the different techniques and styles used by stained-glass artists from around the world.
Museum Executive Director Alison Bruesehoff said: ‘We hold exhibits to introduce people to stained glass, the different formats it has taken in Europe and America, and to share its history. I find many people know very little about stained glass. By having regular exhibits in the same gallery we can show people a selection of the 1,000 pieces of stained glass we own. Although not all are complete windows, many visitors find the fragments just as interesting, since they can get a close-up of say a hand or eye feature in a face.’
For more information, visit the Museum section of the Forest Lawn website. The Features section of the current issue of Vidimus has an on-line exhibition of glass from Forest Lawn.
Valentin Bousch Window Sold in Vancouver, Canada
A sixteenth-century stained-glass window originally from the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Firmin, at Flavigny-sur-Moselle (south of Nancy) in France, has been sold at auction in Vancouver for 300,000 Canadian dollars. Painted by the Renaissance artist Valentin Bousch, the ten-foot high window depicts the Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise (figs 1, 2 and 3); it was once part of a larger scheme charting the history of salvation.
Bousch was probably born in Strasbourg. The earliest mention of his work is at Saint-Nicholas-de-Port, near Nancy in 1514. He died in 1541. Examples of his skill can be seen in Metz Cathedral, where he was the master glazier for many years. Associate Professor in the School of Art at the University of Manitoba, James Bugslag who has studied the Flavigny glass told Vidimus: ‘What is so impressive about Valentin Bousch’s work is how far he pushed the technical limits of the stained glass medium to create striking new Renaissance effects. It remains to be seen just how general such virtuoso motivations were among Renaissance glaziers, because it is seldom that Renaissance stained glass has been studied at close range. That is one of the advantages of displaced glass, such as that from Flavigny-sur-Moselle. From the study of this glass, it seems clear that Bousch was a cutting-edge artist in north-east France during the early sixteenth century. That he worked in the medium of stained glass probably comes as a surprise to most people familiar with the art of this period, since stained glass was so devalued as a medium during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Further detailed study of Renaissance stained glass will, I believe, help to reinstate it as a major medium during this time.’
The design and composition of the window have been linked to a woodcut of the Creation in the Lübecker Bible (printed 1494) and to the influence of the German artist and stained-glass designer Hans Baldung, known as Grien (1484/85–1545), a contemporary and pupil of Albrecht Dürer. The Flavigny window remained at the French abbey from its installation in 1533 until it – and others belonging to the same scheme – was sold by the Benedictine nuns in 1904. Some panels were subsequently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum in New York, while others were bought by private collectors, including the American newspaper mogul, William Randolph Hearst (see the Features section of this issue of Vidimus). After Hearst’s death, the Creation scene was purchased by the Canadian chocolate magnate Fritz Ziegler, scion of the founder of the Ziegler’s Chocolates chain. Ziegler died in 1996, and his widow Nancy ten years later. The window was sold as part of an auction of their estate.
Another window sold at the same Vancouver auction will be featured in the next issue of Vidimus.
Special thanks to Professor James Bugslag of the University of Manitoba for his help with this article. The assistance of Rosie Mills of the Stained Glass Museum, Ely, is also appreciated. The pictures are reproduced by kind permission of James Bugslag.
James Bugslag, ‘Valentin Bousch’s Artistic Practice in the Stained Glass of Flavigny-sur-Moselle’, Metropolitan Museum Journal, 33 (1998), pp. 169–82. This article contains extensive bibliographical reference notes. Photographs cited by Bugslag are shared by an article in the same volume (pp. 153–67) by Ariane Isler-de Jongh, ‘A Stained-Glass Window from Flavigny-sur-Moselle’. For the Flavigny glass in The Metropolitan Museum, see Madeline H. Caviness et al., Stained Glass before 1700 in American Collections: New England and New York, Corpus Vitrearum Checklist I/Studies in the History of Art 15, Washington, 1985, pp. 154–55. See also Durr Friedly, ‘Stained Glass from the Abbey of Flavigny,’ The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, xii/5 (May 1917), pp. 112–16; Michel Hérold, Les Vitraux de Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, Corpus Vitrearum, France, VIII/I, Paris, 1993; and Michel Hérold, ‘Valentin Bousch, l’un des “Peintres sur verre qui se distinguèrent au seizième siècle”’, Revue de l’art, 103 (1994), pp. 53–67.
Postscript The Städel Museum in Frankfurt is currently staging an exhibition of Hans Baldung Grien drawings, exclusively devoted to his pictures of witches. It closes on 13 May. For further information in English about the exhibition, visit the museum’s website. A catalogue edited by the curator of the exhibition, Dr Bodo Brinkman, Witches’ Lust and the Fall of Man. The Strange Fantasies of Hans Baldung Grien, is also available. See the Books & Websites section of the current issue of Vidimus.
The Great East Window of York Minster under the Microscope
The Leverhulme Trust has awarded a grant of £130,000 to study the origins, composition and corrosion of the glass in York Minster’s Great East Window as panels are removed from the window for cleaning and repair. The research project will be run by Professor Ian Freestone of the School of History and Archaeology at Cardiff University, in partnership with the Department of the History of Art at the University of York. The study could yield valuable evidence about the composition of stained glass and help with conservation work across the world. Researchers at Cardiff will use a scanning electron microscope to study rates of corrosion to glass of different colours. They will also use state-of-the-art laser ablation plasma spectrometry from the University’s School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary Sciences to examine the elements in the glass. This should help determine where John Thornton, the medieval craftsman who created the window, obtained his glass.
Professor Freestone told Vidimus: ‘Previous research has suggested that English glaziers used French rather than German glass. We hope that our research will be able to show whether their supplies came from the northern area of Normandy/Brittany, or from the southern region of Flanders/Lorraine. We will also be trying to shed light on other fascinating questions. How was the glass sourced for major projects like the Great East Window? Was it bought entirely from one source, or did merchants/agents have to gather it from where they could? Another area we will be looking at is the sourcing of white glass for the project. Was it English or Continental? We know that some glazing contracts, such as that for the Beauchamp Chapel in Warwick in 1447, specifically excluded the use of English white glass. Did John Thornton have a similar low opinion of its quality? We also hope to learn how the make-up of the glass affects rates of deterioration and devise systems for determining which windows are most at risk. In this way, we can help conservators around the world draw up a priority list of church windows most in need of attention.’
It is hoped to involve conservators from both Britain and the Continent as the project progresses.
Ian Freestone is President of the British Association for the History of Glass.
The CVMA’s Picture Archive has a rich selection of panels from York Minster, including glass from the Great East Window.
Much Marcle Stained Glass Day, 2 June 2007
2007 marks the centenary of the death of Charles Eamer Kempe, one of the nineteenth century’s most renowned glass painters. His studio, which closed in 1934, was the largest of its day, and produced 4000 windows while it was operational. Examples of Kempe windows may be found in the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada (315), Australia and New Zealand (85), Africa (42), and India (7). A Stained Glass Day is being held on 2 June this year to celebrate the centenary and to raise awareness of the importance of his life’s work. The church at Much Marcle has six very fine windows that cover all periods of the studio’s sixty-year existence. Kempe was related to Allan William Chatfield, Vicar of Much Marcle between 1847 and 1896, through Chatfield’s wife Susannah. The latter was a daughter of William Money, for whose family a chapel in the church is named. One of the Kempe windows may be found here, a memorial to George Money, Master of the Supreme Court in Calcutta.
The Stained Glass Day will provide more information on this fascinating network of patronage and familial history. For further details, ring John Chapman on 01531 660664.
The Secretary of the Kempe Society is Mr Philip Collins, 41, York Avenue, Crosby, Liverpool L23 5RN.
Shrewsbury Lecture Reminder
Tickets are still available for what promises to be a marvellous evening at St Mary’s Church, Shrewsbury, on Wednesday 16 May, when Dr Paul Williamson of the Victoria & Albert Museum will give The Churches Conservation Trust’s annual lecture. Dr Williamson will be speaking on ‘The Collecting of Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in England’.
For more information, including tickets, visit The Churches Conservation Trust’s website. Please note the date of this lecture, as it was given incorrectly in one place in the last issue of Vidimus, for which our apologies.
An exhibition of over seventy drawings by the German Renaissance artist and stained-glass designer Albrecht Dürer is currently touring the United States. Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528): Woodcuts and Engravings can be seen at The Honolulu Academy of Arts until 27 May; thereafter at The New Orleans Museum of Art (16 June – 26 August); and finally at The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas at Austin (7 September – 4 November 4). The exhibition includes complete series of Dürer woodcuts, among them the Apocalypse (1498) and the Life of the Virgin (1511), as well as major etchings such as Adam and Eve (1504), Knight, Death, and the Devil (1512), Melancholia I (1514), and St Jerome in his Study (1514).
The exhibition is a generous loan from the Konrad Liebmann Foundation, Germany, and is presented under the auspices of the Lower Saxony Foundation. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, details of which can be found in the Books & Websites section of the current issue of Vidimus.