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The Russian government has approved the return to Germany of the last six fourteenth-century stained-glass panels missing from a large three-window scheme in the Marienkirche in Frankfurt an der Oder, near the Polish border. The three windows were removed from the church’s apse during the Second World War and taken to Potsdam for safe-keeping. Along with other works of art found by the Red Army, they were shipped to the Soviet Union after the war.
In 2002, following an exhibition at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia returned 111 of the 117 panels that make up the scheme; the panels had been stored in the museum since 1946. The final 6 panels were discovered at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. After the glass has been returned to Germany, it will be reinstated in the church, which has recently been restored.
Made around 1360–70, the panels form part of a scheme in the apse of the church, with that on the south side of the altar showing the legend of the Antichrist, portraying him as a handsome youth in fashionable dress whose true identity is revealed by the T sign in his nimbus and the demons who accompany him everywhere. ‘This window is unique,’ Director of the CVMA (Potsdam), Dr Frank Martin, told Vidimus. ‘There is nothing else remotely like it anywhere else in Europe. When made, it was one of three great windows in the apse of the church. The north side window showed scenes from the Book of Genesis, the central east window was filled with scenes of the life of Christ, while the south side window contained thirty-three scenes of the legend of the Antichrist, probably intended to represent the Last Judgement or some similar Apocalyptic vision. Although images of the Antichrist appear in manuscripts and printed books, nothing compares to the scale or detail of the Antichrist scenes at Frankfurt an der Oder. To date we cannot explain why this imagery was chosen or what text or artistic models the painters used.’
In 2006, the CVMA (Potsdam) helped to organize a conference about the window that included theologians, art historians and scholars from other subjects. The proceedings will be published next year. Earlier this year there was also an exhibition about the window in the Museum Junge Kunst in Frankfurt an der Oder. A catalogue was published. When the final six Genesis panels arrive from Moscow, we will be able to study the complete scheme before we publish the CVMA volume about stained glass in the Brandenburg region.’
Vidimus is extremely grateful to Dr Martin for his help with this article. For further information about the CVMA (Potsdam), visit its website.
Further Reading about the Franfurt an der Oder Windows
Marienkirche Stained-Glass Windows is a well-illustrated catalogue of a small exhibition held at the Hermitage Museum in 2002, showing fifteen of the windows after they had been conserved. See the Books section in the current issue for further information. The catalogue of the Frankfurt an der Oder exhibition mentioned above is Das spätgotische Antichristfenster: Eine biblische Botschaft im Zusammenspiel von Glas, Farbe und Licht, edited by Brigitte Rieger-Jähner, Frankfurt (Oder), 2007.
Described as someone who ‘will be contrary to Christ in all things and will do things that are against Christ’, the figure of the Antichrist is a composite one derived from various sources. Scriptural references may be found in the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament in the Epistles of John, St Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, and the Book of Revelation. Later works that disseminated the legend seem to have been inspired by a manuscript written in the tenth century by Adso of Montier-En-Der for his patron, the Frankish Queen, Gerbera. Entitled Letter on the Origin and Time of the Antichrist, nine variants were in circulation in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, of which at least 171 extant manuscripts have been recorded. Not only was Adso’s story of the Antichrist translated into a number of vernacular languages, it also provided the template for numerous medieval artistic representations of the final enemy, from the twelfth-century German Ludus de Antichristo to fifteenth-century block-books that offered images of the life of the Antichrist along similar lines as the lives of Christ and individual saints. In the sixteenth century, Protestant propagandists depicted the pope as the Antichrist.
A translation of Adso’s letter by Bernard McGinn, Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology and of the History of Christianity at the University of Chicago Divinity School, can be read here. For readers interested in exploring medieval ideas and imagery of the Antichrist, recent publications include the following.
Richard K. Emmerson, Antichrist in the Middle Ages: A Study of Medieval Apocalypticism, Art, and Literature, Seattle, 1981
Gregory C. Jenks, The Origins and Early Development of the Antichrist Myth, Beihefte der Zeitschrift für die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, 59, Berlin, 1991
Bernard McGinn, Anti-Christ: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil, San Francisco, 1994
Horst Dieter Rauh, Das Bild des Antichrist im Mittelalter von Tyconius zum deutschen Symbolismus, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters, (neue Folge) 9, Münster, 1969
Rosemary Muir Wright, Art and Antichrist in Medieval Europe, Manchester, 1995
Late medieval and Renaissance stained glass forms an important component of a two-site exhibition currently showing at the Musée de Cluny (Musée National du Moyen Âge), in central Paris, and the Musée du Château d’Ecouen (Musée National de la Renaissance), a fifteen-minute train ride north of the city, until 14 January 2008. Devoted to the patronage of the Amboise brothers, the Cluny exhibition includes windows of c.1500 commissioned by Jacques d’Amboise, Abbot of Cluny (Burgundy) 1485–1510, for the chapel of the mansion that now houses the museum itself. The part of the exhibition at Château d’Ecouen focuses on the artistic patronage of Cardinal George d’Amboise, adviser-minister to King Louis XII and Queen Anne of Brittany.
A catalogue of the exhibition includes essays by Sophie Lagabrielle and Michel Hérold about the stained glass commissioned by the family. See further our Books section. For details of opening times and admission prices, visit the websites of the Musée de Cluny and the Musée du Château d’Ecouen.
With interest mounting in the ‘Art of Light’ exhibition due to open at the National Gallery in London on 7 November, the Victoria & Albert Museum’s stained glass curator, Terry Bloxham, gave Vidimus an exclusive preview of the masterpieces that will be featured in the show.
‘This will be the first time that the V&A and the National Gallery will have collaborated together to stage an exhibition built around medieval and Renaissance stained glass. One aim of the exhibition is to highlight how different artists working in different media, such as panel painters working on wood and paper and other painters working on glass, were nonetheless part of the same artistic network, often borrowing or sharing the same designs as well as working for similar patrons. For a long time, a lot of people seemed to have assumed that artists in different crafts worked entirely separately or independently from one another. But this was never true and the exhibition will be a powerful reminder of us just how lively and creative medieval artists were. We are lending eighteen panels to the exhibition, including eight from Mariawald Abbey, near Cologne. Hopefully, the exhibition will also spur research into similar artistic collaborations in England.’
Among the windows that will be exhibited is a German panel showing Tobias and Sarah in bed on their wedding night. The scene is based on a story in the Book of Tobias (VI, 14) in the Old Testament. Sarah had been married seven times, but each time the demon Asmodeus strangled her husband on the couple’s wedding night. Tobias prayed to God for help, and the Archangel Raphael told him not to consummate the marriage for three nights, and to lay the liver of a fish on the fire, the smoke of which would make the devil run away. The panel was executed in Cologne around 1520: note the domestic touch of slippers on the floor (Fig. 1). Another, slightly later but very beautiful piece in the exhibition shows a radiant Virgin Mary surrounded by light (Fig. 2).
Other panels to be shown are The Annunciation to St Anne (Styria, mid-fourteenth century); the Arms of Balthasar II von Hohenlandenberg (Zurich, c.1500); the Flagellation, Ecce Homo, Entombment (German, mid-sixteenth century); a kitchen scene after Breu (German, seventeenth century); a second kitchen scene (German, c.1500); a donor with St Norbert (Steinfeld Abbey, c.1520, Fig. 3); the Mystic Marriage of St Catherine (Augsburg, dated 1522); the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Steinfeld Abbey, c.1530); and eight panels from Mariawald Abbey (c.1520–30), including Jacob and Esau, Naaman washing, the Temptation of Christ, and the Baptism of Christ.
Many thanks to Terry Bloxham for her help with this article. The photographs are reproduced with the kind permission of the copyright holders: The Trustees of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
A centenary weekend commemorating the work of the Victorian stained-glass artist Charles Eamer Kempe (1837–1907) is being held in Cambridge by the Victorian Society on 27–28 October. For further information visit the society’s website.
For readers interested in the work of Kempe, The Corpus of Kempe Stained Glass in the UK and Ireland (published by the Kempe Trust in 2000) is invaluable. Margaret Stavridi’s Master of Glass: Charles Eamer Kempe 1837–1907, and the Work of His Firm in Stained Glass and Church Decoration (1988) is usually available from on-line antiquarian book specialists.
Following the retirement of Dr Michael Peover, the British Society of Master Glass Painters (BSMGP) has appointed Geoffrey Lane as its new Librarian. Geoffrey is an expert on seventeenth-century glass makers, particularly William Price the Elder, a distant ancestor of his wife. He has contributed articles to the BSMPG journal and published studies about English painters of seventeenth-century glass sundials in both the Bulletin of the British Sundial Society and the Bulletin of the Scientific Instruments Society.
‘Glass historians owe Michael an enormous debt’, Geoffrey told Vidimus. ‘Apart from his outstanding catalogue of the Sir John Sloane Museum glass, another of his most important achievements was relocating the society’s books into the safe care of the Society of Antiquaries of London at Burlington House in Piccadilly. Members of the BSMGP can use the library on production of their membership card.’ (For details of the Society of Antiquaries’ opening times, check their website.)
‘One of my most enjoyable responsibilities is providing back copies of articles from the BSMGP journal. The Journal of Stained Glass has been published since 1924 and contains a wealth of information. A full index and details of how Vidimus readers can order copies of articles can be found at the BSMGP website’.
Vidimus also adds its thanks and best wishes to Michael Peover. Details of how to buy his catalogue of the Sir John Sloane Museum glass can be found in the current issue’s Books section.
Articles by Geoffrey include the following.
‘A World Turned Upside Down: London Glass-Painters 1600-1660’, The Journal of Stained Glass, xxix (2005)
‘The Scottish King and his English Favourite – Two Portrait Panels at the Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh’, The Journal of Stained Glass, xxx (2006)
‘Glass Sundials in 17th Century London’, Bulletin of the Scientific Instruments Society, lxxxix (2006)
‘Glass Sundial Makers of 17th Century London’, British Sundial Society Bulletin, xviii/1 (March 2006)
The Stained Glass Museum in Ely has announced details of its autumn lectures, which will take place at 6.30pm on four Tuesdays in October and November, at The Cathedral Centre, Palace Green, Ely, CB7 4EW. Tickets for the lectures cost £6 on the door, or £5 when purchased in advance. Supper is also available on each occasion for £15 (bookable only in advance). For further information about the museum, visit its website.
16 October: ‘The Life and Works of Nicholas Hawksmoor’ by William Palin, Assistant Curator of the Sir John Soane’s Museum. The life and work of Nicholas Hawksmoor, an architect of rare genius and originality, will be discussed.
30 October: ‘A Thousand Flowers in Glass’ by Anne Anderson. Ms Anderson is an expert in the field and a collector, and will speak on the phenomenon of nineteenth-century paperweights and the millefiori technique, which dates back to medieval times and was developed on the island of Murano, Italy.
13 November: ‘The Rustic Man in Art and Design’ by Rosie Mills, the Stained Glass Museum’s new researcher. Ms Mills will compare the pre-Raphaelite windows of the Labours of the Months (on display in the main gallery) with medieval examples of the theme.
27 November: ‘Helms, Hatchments and Hedgehogs’ by Chloe Cockerill, Regional Development Manager of the Churches Conservation Trust. The subject of this lecture will be heraldic stained glass in English churches.
As we reported in our last issue, conservation trials have begun on the Great East Window of York Minster prior to its removal by experts from the York Glaziers Trust. From start to finish, the project may take up to twelve years. Made between 1405 and 1408 by John Thornton of Coventry, the window contains the largest expanse of medieval stained glass in England, covering over 1680 square feet. The main lights tell the story of the history of the beginning and the end of the world, drawn from the first and last books of the Bible.
Thanks to the generosity of the Dean and Chapter of York Minster, Vidimus has been given exceptional access to the conservation process of this outstanding scheme as it unfolds. This month we take the first of two looks at panel 2j, the final scene of the Apocalypse cycle in the window before the lowest row, which contains historical figures and the donor of the scheme, Walter Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham (1388–1406). A description of this window as a whole appears in Vidimus no. 6 (April 2007).
Tom French’s 1995 CVMA volume on the window, reprinted in a soft-back edition in 2003, described this particular panel as showing ‘Christ in Majesty’ (Fig. 1). Christ is seated holding a book inscribed ‘Ego sum alpha & omega’ (‘I am the beginning and the end’, Fig. 2). The pink robes of Christ are mainly unpainted modern glass. The angel to the left has a banner inscribed ‘Deum adora’ (‘adore God’). St John is seated to the right writing the book of his visions, and the word ‘Apo/cho/lipcis’ (‘Apocalypse’) can be seen.
An important feature of the conservation process is a remarkable collaboration between the Dean and Chapter, the Glaziers Trust, scientists and art historians. A special East Window Advisory Group to oversee the work has been formed, consisting of Andrew Arrol (Surveyor to the Fabric of York Minster), Dr Richard Shephard (representing the Dean & Chapter), Professor Richard Marks (CVMA author and committee member), Sarah Brown (Chairman of the CVMA), Professor Christopher Norton (CVMA author and committee member) and Dr Tim Ayers (Director of the CVMA and Editor of Vidimus).
As part of the trial, the Advisory Group has consulted Professor Nigel Morgan – author of the CVMA volume on the glass at Lincoln Cathedral, and head of research at the Parker Library Medieval Manuscripts Project at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University – about the iconographical sources that may have been used by the glazier. Professor Morgan is one of the world’s leading experts on Apocalypse manuscripts. Although his research is still ongoing, Professor Morgan has already confirmed that this panel depicts at least two scenes from the Apocalypse text. Illustrated on the left of the panel is Revelation XXII, 6–9, where the angel corrects John and tells him that it is God whom he must adore and the angel points to God. On the right John is seen writing his visions (XXII, 7, 10 and 18–19).
Thanks to Amanda Daw and Nick Teed. Photography by Nick Teed. All photographs are reproduced by kind permission of the Dean & Chapter of York Minster. The second part of this article will appear in the next issue of Vidimus. To see further images from York Minster, visit the CVMA Picture Archive.
For further reading suggestions about the Great East Window, see Heather Gilderdale Scott’s references under the Panel of the Month for Vidimus no. 6 (April 2007). Nigel Morgan’s work on Apocalypse manuscripts includes the following.
N. J. Morgan, The Lambeth Apocalypse, commentary for the facsimile edition, London, 1990 (with a contribution by M. Brown on codicology and palaeography)
N. J. Morgan, S. Lewis, M. Brown and A. Nascimento, Apocalipsis Gulbenkian, commentary volume for the facsimile edition, Barcelona, 2001 (with contributions by M. Brown and A. Nascimento, on codicology and palaeography; by S. Lewis, on the commentary illustrations and their description; and by N. Morgan, on historical context, Apocalypse illustrations, and style, dating and provenance)
N. J. Morgan, (ed.) ‘Prophecy, Apocalypse and the Day of Doom’, Proceedings of the 2000 Harlaxton Symposium, Harlaxton Medieval Studies XII, Donington, 2004
D. McKitterick, N. Morgan, I. Short and T. Webber, The Trinity Apocalypse (Trinity College, Cambridge MS R.16.2), commentary volume for the facsimile edition, Luzern, 2004
N. J. Morgan, The Douce Apocalypse, Oxford, 2006 (See the Books section of Vidimus no. 5 (March 2007) for further details.)
Dr Allan Barton will be speaking on ‘The Medieval Stained Glass of Nottinghamshire’, at a Thoroton Society Lecture in the city on 10 November 2007. Thoroton Society lectures are held at Nottingham Mechanics, 3 North Sherwood Street, Nottingham NG1 4EZ. Further information about this event is available on the society’s website.
Allan Barton is the author of a well-illustrated guide to the stained glass at All Saints Church, North Street, York, where the famous ‘Pricke of Conscience’ window can be seen. Copies of this guide are available from the church’s website.
There are more than 130 images of Nottinghamshire glass in the CVMA’s Picture Archive.
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