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Some of the most important early fifteenth-century English glass in the United States is undergoing a major conservation and protective glazing programme (Figs 1–2).
Acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1925 following a sale of the contents of Hampton Court in Herefordshire (Fig. 3, not to be confused with Hampton Court Palace on the outskirts of London), the glass includes eight large images of Apostles arranged in two rows. Each figure is 42 inches/1.066 metres tall, from the hem of his robe to the top of his halo, and stands on a dais between the shafts of a canopy above, i.e., as if he were a sculpted figure in a stone niche. Scrolls with inscriptions from the Apostle’s Creed complete the scheme. Smaller figures of saints and angels appear in the tracery lights. Although the glass was removed from the east window of the domestic chapel at Hampton Court, it seems almost certain that the glass was not original to Sir Rowland Leinthall’s ‘castle’ of 1435 (Fig. 4).
A more likely point of origin is nearby Hereford Cathedral, where the glass would have filled a larger six-light window containing all twelve Apostles. It is unclear when – and in what circumstances – the glass was acquired by the owners of Hampton Court. One possibility is that it followed the introduction of a new glazing scheme in the cathedral sometime in the fifteenth century. Another is that the glass was installed in the chapel during the seventeenth century, perhaps to save it from destruction by puritan iconoclasts who had already banned the playing of music in the cathedral.
Following recent visits to Hereford Cathedral and a close examination of the glass since its removal for conservation, CVMA author Professor Madeline Caviness is preparing a revised study of the window for the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi (CVMA, USA Committee).
The Conservation Project
The conservation of the glass is being undertaken by US specialist, Diane Roberts Rousseau, a conservator in private practice in western Massachusetts (Fig. 5). ‘Despite its many upheavals, the window is extraordinarily sound and complete,’ Diane told Vidimus. ‘Overall the lead network is in good condition. However, repairs dating from when the window was removed and reinstated during WWII will be reversed, and some releading is also necessary in the tracery sections and damaged perimeters [Figs 6 and 7]. Cleaning will concentrate on the exterior surface, which a previous conservation effort could not reach. Some breaks are being foiled for structural reasons, while others are being infused while still in the network with Paraloid B72. A combination of the museum environment and new protective glazing will allow treatment options that might not otherwise be possible.’
Responsibility for the design and installation of the protective glazing system has been entrusted to Keith Barley of Barley Studios (UK), conservation advisor to the CVMA (GB). ‘Since 1970, the glass has been protected externally by polycarbonate sheets,’ Keith explained. ‘The current plan is to construct a ‘triple’ glazing scheme, with external panels protecting the glass from weather and other dangers and an internal two panel isothermal system which can be removed at short notice.’
The glass will be reinstated for public viewing in 2010, when the construction of a new wing to the museum designed by Sir Norman Foster is completed and there is no risk of accidental damage to the window. The conservation project is being overseen by Abigail Hykin, Associate Conservator, Objects Conservation at the Museum of Fine Arts.
M. H. Caviness, ‘The fifteenth-century stained glass from Hampton Court, Herefordshire in the Boston Museum and elsewhere’, Walpole Society, 1970, pp. 35–60
Annette Dixon Carmichael, catalogue entries nos. 22–25, in M. H. Caviness, Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass from New England Collections: Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard Uuniversity, April 25 – June 19th 1978, Melford, 1978, pp. 53–58
M. H. Caviness, catalogue entries for Boston Museum of Fine Arts, in M. H. Caviness et al., Stained Glass before 1700 in American Collections: New England and New York, Corpus Vitrearum Checklist II, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985, pp. 44–45
Anthony Emery, catalogue entry for Hampton Court, Herefordshire, in Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales, Cambridge, 2000, II, pp. 540–45
Vidimus is grateful to Abby Hykin, Diane Roberts Rousseau, Keith Barley, and Professor Madeline Caviness for their help with this item. Thanks are also extended to historian Catherine Beale, who has written a guide to the house and a study of one of the past owners of Hampton Court (see further our Books section). Finally we would like to record our appreciation to Dr Graham Lacey, the new owner of Hampton Court, for giving Vidimus special access to the normally private chapel. For details of the gardens at Hampton Court (Herefordshire), visit the website.
The CVMA Picture Archive
Two panels from Hampton Court were acquired by the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. They show the deacon saints Stephen and Laurence. They can be viewed by visiting the introductory page of the Picture Archive, and entering the CVMA inventory numbers 002321 and 002324 in the appropriate box.
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Although the old Dominican church in Strasbourg was destroyed in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war, considerable amounts of its original glazing survive. Around 250 panels from the church had been purchased by the city authorities nearly forty years earlier (1833) and remained undamaged during the bombardment and siege of the city. Today, some of the panels can be seen in the chevet and the chapel of St Laurence in Strasbourg Cathedral; others remain in store and are little known.
The entire corpus of glass is now described in a new French CVMA volume by Victor Beyer, the former Inspector General of the Museums of France. It complements his earlier work on glass from Alsace, Les vitraux de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, published in 1998, which he co-authored with Christiane Wild-Block and Fridtjof Zschokke.
Apart from being a major monument of medieval stained glass, the panels also throw important light on Dominican art. The book catalogues all the surviving panels from the church, which include typological medallions (Old and New Testament subjects) from the first glazing campaign of c.1254–1260; scenes of the life of Christ from the second glazing campaign, executed in the early fourteenth century when the church was enlarged (1307–1345); and a powerful representation of the Last Judgement painted around 1417 during the third campaign. See our Books section for further information.
Thanks to Virginie Lapierre of the University of Strasbourg Press. Images are reproduced with permission of the Presses universitaires de Strasbourg.
This month’s cover image is a fifteenth-century English Labour of the Month for February now in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow. The Burrell houses an exceptional collection of stained glass. To find out more, visit the museum’s website. The image is copyright of Culture and Sport Glasgow (Museums), and reproduced by generous permission.
A new display incorporating sixteenth-century panels from the Rhineland monasteries of Steinfeld and Mariawald has recently been unveiled in the Late Medieval and Renaissance Gallery of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The display replaces exhibits from the Holy Blood Chapel in Bruges, which have been removed for conservation.
The display was selected and arranged by curator Terry Bloxham, assisted by the museum’s stained-glass conservator, Sherrie Eatman, and Neil Wilton of IWF Ltd. ‘The removal of the c.1496 panels showing the Emperor Maximilan, Joanna of Castle and other figures from the Holy Blood Chapel gave us the opportunity to display a wider range of magnificent glass from the museum’s collection,’ Terry told Vidimus. ‘Obviously we had to find panels which fitted our existing framing system. We also wanted to show panels which told stories and which introduced visitors to different aspects of stained glass.
At the core of the new display are four panels from the cloisters of the Premontratensian abbey of Steinfeld (between Cologne and Treves in the Eifel district), made c.1538–40 and showing scenes from the Passion of Christ [Figs 1–4]. We have “matched” these with two “donor” panels made around the same time for the neighbouring Cistercian abbey of Mariawald [Figs 5–6].
‘To complete the display we added two sets of roundels made in the Netherlands in the first half of the sixteenth century in a very different technique and style than the German panels. Each set shows three panels illustrating scenes from the stories of King Ahasuerus [Figs 7–9] and the Parable of the Prodigal Son [Figs 10–12].
‘The Steinfeld and Mariawald glass was acquired by the Museum following the sale of the Ashridge Chapel collection.’
Vidimus is grateful to Terry Bloxham for her assistance with this item and contributing the picture captions. All photographs are © Victoria & Albert Museum, and reproduced by kind permission of the Director and the Trustees.
The Steinfeld Panels
Fig. 1. One of a series of panels depicting the Passion, or sufferings, of Christ. His mother Mary and Mary Magdalene are in the background. Jews and a Roman soldier stand observing, while a man hammers a nail through Jesus’s palm, fixing him to the cross. Clear and coloured glass, with paint and silver stain. German (Cologne), c.1538. Workshop of Gerhard Remisch (active 1522–42). From the cloisters of Steinfeld Abbey, near Cologne. C.276-1928.
Fig. 2. One of a series of panels depicting the Passion of Christ. His mother Mary, Mary Magdalene and St John the Evangelist are mourning at the foot of the cross. This panel was originally accompanied by others depicting the Good and the Bad Thieves on the cross. Clear and coloured glass, with paint and silver stain. German (Cologne), c.1538. Workshop of Gerhard Remisch (active 1522–42). From the cloisters of Steinfeld Abbey, near Cologne. C.251-1928.
Fig. 3. One of a series of panels depicting the Passion of Christ. His mother Mary, Mary Magdalene and St John the Evangelist look on in mourning as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus lay Christ in a stone coffin. Clear and coloured glass, with paint and silver stain. German (Cologne), c.1539. Workshop of Gerhard Remisch (active 1522–42). From the cloisters of Steinfeld Abbey, near Cologne. C.259-1928.
Fig. 4. Christ rises from his stone coffin. Angels accompany him to heaven. The soldiers guarding his coffin are asleep while others look on in amazement. Clear and coloured glass, with paint and silver stain. Cerman (Cologne), c.1540–42. Workshop of Gerhard Remisch (active 1522–42). From the cloisters of Steinfeld Abbey, near Cologne. C.253-1928.
The Mariawald Panels
Fig. 5. The inscription on the wall hangings identifies this man as Heinrich Kretzgens. He was one of the donors who helped to pay for the glazing of the Mariawald Abbey cloisters. It is believed that his wife and daughter are depicted in the adjacent panel. Clear and coloured glass, with paint and silver stain. German (Cologne), c.1516–22. From the cloisters of Mariawald Abbey, near Cologne. C.291-1928.
Fig. 6. The inscription on the wall hangings reads ‘Gertrude his wife and Catherine their daughter’. It is believed that the women are the wife and daughter of Heinrich Kretzgens who is shown in the adjacent panel. They were donors who helped to pay for the glazing of the Mariawald Abbey cloisters. Clear and coloured glass, with paint and silver stain. German (Cologne), c.1516–22. From the cloisters of Mariawald Abbey, near Cologne. C.318-1928.
Roundels from the Story of King Ahasuerus and Queen Esther
The Old Testament Book of Esther tells the story of Esther, a Jewish woman who married the Persian King Ahaseurus in the 5th century BC. She had been raised by her cousin Mordecai who eventually achieved high position in the king’s court after informing the king of an assassination plot on his life. The king’s prime minister, Hamaan, sought to execute Mordecai and kill the Jews in the Persian lands. Esther convinced the king to allow the Jews to defend themselves, and Hamaan’s plot was foiled. The Jewish feast of Purim celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from the evils of Hamaan.
Fig. 7. The scene in this roundel is possibly that of Mordecai informing King Ahaseurus that two of his courtiers are planning to assassinate him. Clear glass, with paint and silver stain. Netherlands, c.1530. 5644-1859.
Fig. 8. Hamaan thought he had achieved high favour from Queen Esther. His pride was such that he ordered all residents in the city to bow before him. He did not realise that the queen was soon to expose his evil deeds to the king. Mordecai stands within the palace gate in the background. He refused to bow before Hamaan and thus greatly angered him. Clear glass, with paint and silver stain. Netherlands, c.1530. 5654-1859.
Fig. 9. Queen Esther reminded King Ahaseurus that Mordecai had saved his life. The king tricked Hamaan into agreeing to the elevation of Mordecai to high office and favour. Hamaan was ordered to lead the royally dressed Mordecai on horse back through the streets of the city. Clear glass, with paint and silver stain. Netherlands c.1530. 5656-1859.
Roundels from the Parable of the Prodigal Son
In the New Testament Gospel of St Luke, Christ tells the parable of the Prodigal Son. The Prodigal Son asked his father for his portion of his inheritance. The father granted it and the young man set out into the world and squandered the money away. He fell on hard times and came to realise that he had sinned by taking the money and wasting it. He returned to his father, who welcomed him back.
Fig. 10. The father is in the centre handing a bag of money to his son. On the left, an assistant keeps track of the transaction in an account book. An opened box of money sits on the table. Netherlandish roundel painters often incorporated contemporary scenes and activities in their works. Clear glass, with paint and silver stain. Netherlands, c.1550. After Pieter Coecke van Aelst (about 1502–50). 274-1908.
Fig. 11. The father is to the left handing a bag of money to his son. The Prodigal Son then sets off on his travels. This is depicted in the background on the right of the panel. Clear glass, with paint and silver stain. Netherlands, c.1540. 5657-1859.
Fig. 12. The Prodigal Son sits on the left of the gaming table. He is throwing dice for money, with some unsavoury companions. One of the companions holds up a jug of ale or wine in the background, suggesting that heavy drinking is going on as well. Clear glass, with paint and silver stain. Netherlands, c.1530. 5648-1859.
Six panels of stained glass are among thirty-five masterpieces of medieval and Renaissance art from the Victoria & Albert Museum (London) currently showing at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville (Kentucky) until 20 April. The panels include four scenes thought to have been made in Troyes (Champagne) of c.1170–80 (Fig. 1); a German roundel of St Peter in a rocky landscape of c.1480–85 (Fig. 2); and a dramatic Swiss composition of a wild man and woman supporting the arms of the Graftschaft (county) of Kyburg, north-east of Zurich (Fig. 3), probably painted by Lucas Zeiner, who was active c.1480–1510.
After leaving the Speed Art Museum, the touring exhibition will visit The Metropolitan Museum (New York, 20 May – 17 August), and the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, (Georgia, 13 September – 4 January 2009), before returning to the UK for display at the Millennium Galleries (Sheffield, 29 January – 24 May 2009).
Other exhibits in the show include medieval jewels, caskets and sculptures; Renaissance bronzes; and the Codex Forster I, a notebook written around 1505 by Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) in mirror-image cursive.
For details of opening hours and admission prices at the Speed Museum, please check the museum’s website.
CVMA author David King will be speaking on the fascinating fifteenth-century glass of East Harling Church (Norfolk), at a special lecture of the British Society of Master Glass Painters (BSMGP) on the 14 March, at the Artworkers Guild Hall, London.
The East Harling glass was commissioned by the wealthy thrice-married heiress Anne Harling and has been tied to her ultimately fruitless efforts to conceive a child and the political support that she and her second husband, Sir Robert Wingfield gave to the Yorkist monarch, Edward IV. Circumstantial evidence also points to a link between the glass and the contemporary N-Town cycle of religious plays. (These plays are associated on linguistic grounds with East Anglia and named after the words ‘.N. town’ in the banns (opening proclamation), presumably standing for ‘nomen’, thus allowing the producers to insert the name of the town where they were touring into the script.) It is possible some of the plays may have been performed at East Harling, during a royal visit in 1469, and that the cast included the glaziers who made the windows.
David King is the author of The Medieval Glass of St Peter Mancroft, Norwich (CVMA (GB) V, London, 2006). For further information and booking details about what promises to be a fascinating lecture, email the lectures [at] bsmgp [dot] org [dot] uk” target=”_blank”>BSMGP.
The Russian Duma has approved a government-sponsored bill permitting the return of six stained glass panels to a church in Germany seized at the end of the Second World War. The bill needs two more readings in the Duma before it is sent to President Putin for ratification.
The panels formed part of a unique scheme in the apse of the Marienkirche, in Frankfurt an der Oder, on the Polish border. For a full account of the glass, see issue 11 (October 2007) of Vidimus in our Archives.
Admirers of Victorian stained glass will welcome a well-illustrated new history of St Mary’s Church, Alderbury, Wiltshire (England) written by local historian Dr Peter Hammond. The book includes excellent images of windows by artists such as Henry Holliday, Clayton & Bell, and Heaton, Butler & Bayne. A location plan of the glass using the CVMA numbering system is a useful addition.
The church was designed by S. S. Tuelon in 1856, and the book commemorates its 150th anniversary. See further our Books section.
The death has been announced of the stained-glass artist, conservator and author John ‘Jack’ Baker.
Born in 1916, Jack studied at the Central School in London and worked under James Hogan at the Whitefriars stained-glass studios before joining Samuel Caldwell junior at Canterbury Cathedral in 1948 to help reinstate the medieval glass removed for safekeeping during the Second World War.
He subsequently authored English Stained Glass (1960, with an introduction by Herbert Read); the revised edition of this work, English Stained glass of the Medieval Period (1978, Fig. 1), was to become one of the most popular softback books on English medieval glass ever published. On both occasions he was ably supported by the photographer Alfred Lammer (1909–2000), whose training as a mountaineer once led to his being suspended high over the nave of Tewkesbury Abbey, secured only by a thin strap behind a rusting piece of fourteenth-century iron in the window he was photographing, while John watched white-faced from below.
Apart from his conservation skills, John was also an inspired teacher at Kingston College of Art. He produced windows for a number of churches, including eleven windows for the church of the Holy Name, Bow Common Lane, Mile End; two windows and a brick sculpture for the church of Little St Peter, Cricklewood; eighteen windows for St Anne’s church, East Wittering, Sussex; two large abstract windows for Broomfield Chapel, Abbots Langley; ten large concrete and glass windows for the new parish church, Gleadless Valley, Sheffield; and twenty-two glass windows for the Convent Chapel, St Michaels, Finchley. He also created a huge Jesse window for the church at Farnham Royal (Buckinghamshire). The church was demolished in 2004, but the glass is now in storage, and some of the panes will be installed in the welcome are of the new church.
His favourite works were the windows he produced for Auckland Cathedral, New Zealand (Fig. 2). He was selected for his important commission by the then Dean of the Cathedral, The Very Revd Rae Monteith (later, the Right Reverend), who visited England and the USA to look at the work of different artists before choosing John. Thereafter the pair remained lifelong friends until ‘Monty’s’ death in 2003, and John is still remembered with affection in Auckland. Examples of John’s work in the Marsden Chapel of the Cathedral can be seen on the cathedral’s website.
In 1946, John married the author and artist Hilary Stebbing, with whom he had two children, Caroline and Nicholas.
John Baker, born Birmingham, 11 March 1916, died Hastings, 20 December 2007.
Lectures about two important twentieth-century stained-glass artists will form part of a varied conference programme organized by the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 31 March – 3 April. Called Imaging the Bible in Wales in the 19th and 20th Centuries, Alun Adams, Senior Lecturer in Fine Arts at the Swansea Institute of Higher Education will speak on ‘The Arts and Crafts Movement and the Bible: The work of Karl Parsons (1884–1934)’, and Alison Smith, a curator at Tate Britain, will talk about ‘The Stained Glass of John Petts (1914–1991)’.
For further information, including booking details, visit the conference website.
A fascinating exhibition is showing at Washington State History Museum until 2 March. Called Remembered Light: Glass fragments from World War II, it shows twenty-five windows and objects incorporating fragments of stained glass (some medieval) collected by U.S. Army Chaplain Frederick Alexander McDonald (1908–2002) as he accompanied the 12th Army Group across war ravaged Europe in 1944–45. Led by Oakland (California) based stained-glass artist, Armelle LeRoux, a thirteen-strong team worked for six years creating new works of art from the glass and the stories that Fred McDonald remembered about finding them (Fig. 1).
Notre Dame, Coutances (France) ‘The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Coutances was the first great Gothic church we saw in our army advance. It was famous for the ‘dim religious light’ of its windows. Blasting bombs had shattered every one and the interior was bright under the August sun. This made the architectural excellence more plainly seen since it was first built 700 years ago.’ (Fig. 2)
Liebfrauenkirche, Trier (Germany) ‘On my way to Köln on March 8, 1945, I saw over the Moselle River the ancient Roman city of Trier. American soldiers were combing the rock piles that were once buildings and churches. The walls of the gothic Church of Our Lady were standing, but the wooden doors of the entrance were blasted. A sign in English forbade entrance. It had been placed there by Target Force who moved in front of the soldiers to save important artistic works. I entered and contemplated the fallen Crucifix, with the statue of the Holy Mother, prone on the floor, looking towards her prostrate son.’ (Figs 3 and 4)
In all, the exhibits incorporate known fragments from the following locations. England: Coventry, St Michael’s Cathedral; London, St John’s, Red Lion Square. France: Biarritz, St Andrew’s English Church; Coutances, Cathedral of Notre-Dame; Metz, Cathedral of St Stephen. Belgium: Saint-Hubert, Basilica of St Hubert; Dinant, Notre-Dame Church. Germany: Aachen, Aachen Cathedral and the Church of the Holy Ghost; Trier, Liebefrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady); Cologne, Cologne Cathedral; Wiesbaden, Church of St Augustine and the Russian Chapel; Frankfurt, Frankfurt Cathedral; Nuremberg, Church of St Lawrence; Berchtesgaden, Berghof.
After leaving Washington State History Museum, the exhibition will transfer to Philadelphia for a showing at the University of Pennsylvania Art Gallery. Following the completion of a national tour, the collection will be permanently housed at the Presidio Main Post Interfaith Chapel in San Francisco.
For opening times and admission prices, visit the Washington State History Museum’s website. For further information about the exhibition visit, its dedicated website or watch the introductory film on Youtube.
Thanks to Abigail Azote and Lynn Scher. All images are reproduced courtesy of The Frederick A. McDonald Foundation.
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