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This month we have doubled our Features section to bring you news of the re-opening of the D’Arcy Collection in Chicago, and to present the first part of a four-part history of the York Glaziers Trust (YGT). The internationally renowned YGT celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year.
Four superb examples of stained glass will go on display again this month following the relocation of the Loyola University Museum of Art to new premises at 820 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
The glass forms part of the University’s Martin D’Arcy Collection of medieval, Renaissance and baroque art, a collection of around 306 pieces named after Father Martin D’Arcy (1888–1976), a British Jesuit and one time Master of Campion Hall, Oxford, who made many lecture tours of Jesuit colleges across the USA from the late 1950s. As well as being a collector in his own right, D’Arcy was acquainted with John (1900–1975) and Gertrude Hunt (1903–1995), a husband and wife team who were among the best-known dealers and collectors of medieval art in the middle years of the last century. The couple later established the Hunt Museum in Limerick (Eire), which includes some examples of early stained glass.
The D’Arcy Collection has four pieces of stained glass of interest to Vidimus readers.
I. Fragment of border glass, from Canterbury Cathedral, England, c.1200. This fragment is in excellent condition. It consists of a blue ground between plain-red and yellow-beaded edges, with a recurring design of white stems that form a kidney shape enclosing palmettes of green, white and yellow with paired leaves growing from them. Between these main designs are leafy knots of green with clusters of white berries. Professor Madeline Caviness has speculated that the fragment was originally part of the glazing scheme in the cathedral’s ambulatory windows. Until 1953, this fragment was in the collection of Philip Nelson (1892–1953), a well-known English collector of medieval art and the author of Ancient Painted Glass in England 1170-1500 (London, 1913). After Nelson’s death it, the piece was owned by the Hunts until it was given to the D’Arcy Collection in 1976 by Gertrude Hunt in memory of her husband and to commemorate the life of the Revd Martin D’Arcy.
The fragment is described by Madeline Caviness in The Windows of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury (CVMA (GB), II, London, 1981, p. 314, fig. 375).
h 0.77 m/30.75″, w 0.223m/9.25″
II. St Margaret and the Dragon, 14th century.
This mouchette shows the virgin saint St Margaret of Antioch emerging from the belly of the dragon. According to the Golden Legend, an account of saints’ lives compiled by Jacobus de Voragine (Bishop of Genoa c.1260), the dragon ‘had seized her by the head and drew her into his maw, and it was then that she made the sign if the cross, and caused the dragon to burst, the damsel emerging unharmed from his body’. The same text says that before she died Margaret asked ‘that whenever a woman in labour should call upon her name, that child might be brought forth without harm’. St Margaret’s cult was international in medieval Europe. In van Eyck’s famous painting, the Arnolfini Portrait, an image of St Margaret is carved on the post of the marriage bed. (To see this image in the National Gallery, London, click here.)
When the US Corpus Vitrearum published its catalogue of Stained Glass before 1700 in American Collections in the Midwestern and Western States, III (Studies in the History of Art 28, Washington, 1989), it was suggested that the provenance of this panel might be Austria or Southern Germany. This was in line with a description, supplied by the Blumka Gallery in New York when it sold the piece to LUMA, which suggested the Marienkirche at Strassengel, in Austria, as the most likely source. However, in a recently revised catalogue, Stained Glass before 1700 in the Collections of the Mid-West States, the provenance was assigned to England. Such assignations are never easy, and this panel is a case in point.
The panel certainly shares some stylistic features with mid-fourteenth-century English glass – the foliage ground, the boldly painted face with ‘tadpole’ eyes and flowing hair, characteristics that Professor Lucy Sandler of the New York University of Fine Arts, has denoted the Pucellian style, after a Parisian manuscript illuminator, Jean Pucelle, who influenced English artists. (See ‘Further Reading’ below.) Yet glass of this period exhibits formal and stylistic similarities over long distances, even for regions as far apart as Austria and England. Furthermore, the dominant pink/purple and the pale-blue/green glass palette used by the artist is unusual for English glass, and the form of the mouth is different from anything that comes to mind in England at this time.
The shape of the panel implies an origin in a tracery light. As part of the assignment of an English provenance, attention was drawn to similar shapes in English window tracery of the period, but as the shape is quite simple, it is not a foregone conclusion that it came from a window in the English curvilinear Decorated style.
h 0.45m/19″, w 0.22m/8.75″
The CVMA (GB) Picture Archive has fourteenth-century images of St Margaret at Kimberley (St Peter), Norfolk; Mancetter (St Peter), Warwickshire; Selling (St Mary), Kent; and Willesborough (St Mary), Kent.
Vidimus is keen to hear from readers with opinions about this panel or who can throw additional light on some of these themes.
III. Agony in the Garden, Netherlandish, c. 1500–1510.
After the Last Supper, Christ retreated to the Mount of Olives, where he wrestled with the duality of his life, the Agony in the Garden. This roundel shows Christ praying while the three Apostles, who joined him in the garden, sleep in the foreground, and the high priest’s soldiers and Judas come to arrest him. The US Corpus Vitrearum has drawn attention to similarities between the design of this roundel and a woodcut of the same scene published in 1491 by the German printer Anton Koberger, as well as the work of several Netherlandish artists produced around the same time as the glass was painted. The piece is executed on uncoloured glass in black paint, silver stain and sanguine.
d 23.5 cm/9.25″
IV. The Son of Zaleucus accused of adultery, c.1530. This panel shows a group of men and women clustered around Zaleucus, the king of the Italian city state of Locri in the seventh century BC. The king points his sceptre to a woman with long flowing hair, probably the same woman with whom his son is accused of committing adultery. Under Locrian law any male committing such an offence was to be blinded, but after pleas for clemency, Zaleucus ruled that both he and his son should each lose on eye. The panel has been attributed to a design by Dierick (Dirick) Vellert of Antwerp (fl. c.1511–40) or his workshop. The life of this artist and other examples of his work have been described by Dr Timothy Husband, Curator of Medieval Art in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and chairman of the Corpus Vitrearum (USA). Hilary Wayment attributed a roundel in King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, to the same artist, and significantly the D’Arcy panel was bought from Wayment in 1983. The unipartite panel is roughly square, and rounded at the foot; it may have been cut down from a rectangular panel. It is executed on uncoloured glass in reddish paint and silver stain.
h 23.5 cm/9.25″, w 20.7cm/8.0125″
Museum curator Jonathan Canning told Vidimus about forthcoming plans for the collection and its stained glass. ‘I have been the curator for fourteen months. The installation of the D’Arcy Collection in its new location has been my main priority since arriving. The glass is particularly important to me. I grew up in Canterbury and spent some of postgraduate professional training at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where one of my responsibilities was to review and re-interpret the collection of English heraldic glass, the largest such collection in the USA.
‘Loyola University Chicago has a small undergraduate art-history department, but no graduate program. Students are involved with the collection through internships, classes and research projects, and many played a role in preparing for the D’Arcy’s installation. The same encouragement applies to LUMA, where students also work as gallery attendants and assist in all the museum’s departments (Education, Visitor Services, and Exhibitions). Future projects include the research, writing and production of a general visitors’ guide to the collection, in which students will be actively involved.
‘In 2009, we hope to host a scholarly symposium to coincide with the collection’s 40th anniversary and to launch a three-year comprehensive catalogue project. Any information that Vidimus readers can provide about our stained glass collection would always be appreciated.’
On Pucelle, see L. F. Sandler, ‘A Follower of Jean Pucelle in England’, Art Bulletin, lii, December 1970, pp. 363–72.
V. C. Raguin, H. J. Zakin with contributions from E. C. Pastan, Stained Glass Before 1700 in the Collection of the Midwest States, Corpus Vitrearum, USA, VIII, 2vols, London/Turnhout, 2001. Volume I contains detailed descriptions of the panels and a history of the D’Arcy Collection at LUMA; for the first LUMA panel, see I, pp. 122–24.
On Dirick Vellert, see Timothy Husband, The Luminous Image: Painted Glass Roundels in the Lowlands , 1480 – 1560, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1995.
On King’s College, Cambridge, see Hilary Wayment, King’s College Chapel Cambridge: The Side-Chapel Glass, Cambridge, 1988.
Since 1967, the York Glaziers Trust (YGT) has cared for the stained glass of York Minster. To celebrate its fortieth anniversary, Vidimus is publishing a four-part tribute to this unique partnership between the Dean & Chapter of the minster, members of the Pilgrim Trust, and several generations of trained craftsmen. Closely assisted by art historians and scientific advisors, their efforts have made the trust one of the world’s leading conservation workshops.
This month we look at the history of the trust. Future instalments will tell how important glass was saved after the fire of 1984, reveal the complexities of restoring the famous St William Window, and explore some of the other projects the trust has undertaken since 1967, including the conservation of the earliest in situ painted glass in Britain and historic windows in Oxford.
Although formed only forty years ago, the trust is rooted in centuries of craftsmanship and care. The minster has a long tradition of treasuring its glass (Fig. 1) and was the first church in England to install secondary protective glazing, in the 1860s (for the east and west windows, and the Seven Sisters Window). During the First World War, some of the minster’s glass was removed after Zeppelin raids in the city in 1916, and then restored before being reinstalled.
Yet nothing in the minster’s nine-hundred-year-old history could prepare it for the aftermath of the Second World War. Because of fears of enemy bombing, 80 of the minster’s 128 famous windows were removed for safe storage in 1940, leaving the interior lit by plain glass. Removing the glass had been difficult; restoring it before reinstallation took thirty years. It has been compared to starting from scratch, and the scale of the task was enormous. The glazing team was led by its foreman, Oswald Lazenby, assisted by Herbert Nowland (Fig. 2), and a young apprentice, Peter Gibson, occasionally supplemented by contracting craftsmen from elsewhere. Anxious to put the workshop on firmer financial footing and to share its unparalleled expertise with other churches, the Dean of the Minister, Eric Milner-White (1884–1963, dean 1941–63, Fig. 3), suggested the creation of an independent trust.
Forming the Trust
Four years after Milner-White’s death, the former dean’s hopes were realised under the leadership of the new dean, Alan Richardson (1917–75, dean 1964–75). With help from the Pilgrim Trust (Fig. 4) – a charity formed in 1930 by American philanthropist Edward Harkness (1874–1940) – the YGT was officially inaugurated on 20 July 1967. Its first Secretary and Superintendent was Peter Gibson (Fig. 5).
Other key figures included Dr Peter Newton, a pioneering stained-glass historian from York University; Dennis King, a well-known glazier from Norwich; and two secretaries of the Pilgrim Trust, Lord Kilmaine (1902–1978), and Sir Edward Ford (1910–2006). Other trustees who deserve special mention are Tom French (1917–2001), who wrote several studies of the minster glass and served from 1982 until his death in 2001; Michael Archer, formerly Senior Research Curator in the Department of Ceramics and Glass at the Victoria & Albert Museum; Sarah Brown, Chairman of the CVMA (GB); and Nicolas Barker, formerly Head of Conservation at the British Library, and Chairman of the York Glaziers Trust since 2004.
In line with its commitment to training, the trust also provides apprenticeships. The first was awarded to Keith Barley, now head of his own internationally acclaimed workshop and official conservation advisor to the British committee of the CVMA.
Achievements of the Workshop
From the outset, the priorities of the trust were to conserve the glass of the minster; provide expertise to other churches; encourage training; and to promote public awareness about stained glass. They remain its goals today. Among its early achievements was the repair of the Great West Window, the conservation of fourteen nave clerestory windows, and the repair of the south transept rose window both before and after the fire that ravaged the church in July 1984 (see Fig. 6, and Part II of this series).
Elsewhere, the work of the trust can be seen in many places. At All Saints Church, Dalbury (Derbyshire), the trust conserved the late eleventh-century window showing St Michael the Archangel, possibly the earliest example of glazing still in situ in England (Fig. 7). In York itself, commissions included the reconstruction of a fascinating window depicting the Orders of Angels at All Saints, North Street (Fig. 8). Other important projects have included caring for the splendid fifteenth-century glass at Doddiscombsleigh (Devon, see Vidimus no. 10), and conserving medieval glass at Oxford colleges, including seven windows made by Thomas Glasier for New College ante-chapel in the 1380s (Fig. 9).
As the workshop became busier, new staff joined the trust. In 1995, Penelope Winton became head of conservation (Fig. 10), followed by Lucy Rutherford (2001–2003, Fig. 11). Today Nick Teed leads a staff of nine conservators, including master glazier Ian Tomlinson (Fig. 12). ‘There have been major changes since I joined the Trust in 1970,’ Ian told us. ‘There were no women in the workshop, we did not paint or fire glass, and we were very insular. Today the team includes artists and people with a wide breadth of particular skills. We also have excellent relations with scientists, art historians and glaziers elsewhere in Europe, including Dr Ivo Rauch from the German CVMA, one of the world’s leading experts on the conservation of medieval stained glass. Together with much greater public interest in stained glass, it makes our work very rewarding.’
Over the past decade, the trust has been heavily involved in three major projects at the minster. The first, begun in 1997, concentrated on the conservation of the St William Window in the north choir aisle. Made around 1414–15, the window depicts scenes from the life and posthumous miracles of the city’s patron saint in one hundred panels. During its ten-year conservation, more than forty meetings were held involving trustees, external advisors, and members of the glazing team. Extensive research was undertaken in the minster archives and into original documents chronicling the life of St William. Every panel was thoroughly discussed before work began. An advisory panel examined cut lines, paint traces, new infills and how the window was originally arranged and ordered. When it was decided to add modern glass, each insertion was colour washed to match the tone and textural quality of the medieval glass and signed by the painter to identify it as new work. Similar procedures are being followed for the conservation of the Great East Window.
A second, ongoing, project is the conservation of one of the chapter house vestibule windows of c.1290 (Fig. 13), some of the oldest and frailest glass in the minster. Finally, the trust has recently begun preliminary trials prior to the full-scale restoration of the Great East Window. This project is expected to last from 2008, when the window glass is removed, until 2019, when it is reinstated, and part III of this series will be devoted to the conservation of this window.
Despite these huge projects, the trust continues to care for medieval glass elsewhere, sometimes combining traditional work with new commissions. In 2006, deputy senior conservator Rachel Thomas won the York Guild of Building award for outstanding individual craftsmanship for her stunning creation of a new window in the vestry of New College Chapel, Oxford. Using assorted architectural fragments and discarded infills from the college storerooms, Rachel’s ‘Tree of Life’ design gave a new dimension to the work of the trust (Fig. 14).
Senior conservator, Nick Teed, relishes future challenges. ‘Restoring the Great East Window will be the largest glass-conservation project ever undertaken in the UK. Thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we will be recruiting new trainees and refining our skills. Our workshop in Deangate now includes two large studios, a kiln room, a glass store, archives and photographic records. We have a great team and a great spirit.’ (Fig. 15)
YGT trustee, Sarah Brown, concurs. ‘The trust can be proud of its record. It has an international reputation for maintaining the highest standards of stained glass conservation, both in the minster and throughout the UK. New innovations include exchange visits with the Cologne Cathedral workshop and developing a collaborative approach to the conservation of windows, involving art historians, scientists and glaziers working together. I am sure the next forty years will be even more productive.’ The last word goes to Nicolas Barker, the Chairman of the York Glaziers Trust. ‘The trust has always looked to the future as well as to the past. Conservation is a special skill. I am sure that when the trust celebrates if eightieth anniversary, our latest initiative –supporting York University to design a new degree course in stained-glass conservation – will be seen as yet another ground-breaking achievement.’
The trust’s current personnel are as follows. Chairman: Nicolas Barker. Director: Peter Johnston. Trustees: Canon Glyn Webster (representing the Dean & Chapter of York Minster); David Rayner; Michael Archer OBE; Sarah Brown; Professor Christopher Norton; Professor Barry Dobson.
Thanks to Nicolas Barker, Sarah Brown, Amanda Daw, Peter Gibson, Louise Hampson and Nick Teed. Photographs are reproduced with the permission of the Dean & Chapter of York Minster and the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
NEXT TIME. Part II: Saving the Glass after the Great 1984 Fire.
For more information about the Pilgrim Trust, visit its website.
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URL to article: http://vidimus.org/issues/issue-12/feature/
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