Hearst the Collector
Hearst the Collector, Mary L. Levkoff, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2008, Harry N. Abrams, 30cm, 255 pages, 143 colour illustrations, hardback, $50, £25.
William Randolph Hearst (1863–1951) was probably the most prodigious, and controversial, art collector of the twentieth century, often accused of buying quantity over quality and shipping countless treasures from Europe to America and then never bothering to ever unpack them. [Fig. 2]
This new biography of Hearst, published to coincide with an exhibition of some of the objects he owned, is an eminently readable and even-handed account of his collecting habits and draws attention to the many outstanding items of armour, tapestries, Greek vases and classical sculpture he acquired to decorate his six palatial residences, in New York and California. At the same time, and by her own admission, the author says far too little about Hearst’s stained glass collection which, at its peak, consisted of over 400 items, including examples of great rarity and beauty.
The collection included windows now at Forest Lawn cemetery in California, see Vidimus 7 and the Valentin Bousch ‘Creation’ window made in 1533 for the priory church of Saint Firmin at Flavigny-sur-Moselle, described in depth in Vidimus 20. One of the plusses of Levkoff’s book is that it includes a glimpse of this window when it was installed in Hearst’s enormous New York home overlooking the Hudson River. Another photograph from this residence shows his splendid armoury with a stained glass window (open to the right) depicting the Miracle of St Nicholas and the Three Boys, inscribed 1453, and thought to be from the north of France. It is now in the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. [Figs. 3, 4 and 5]
No account of Hearst’s life is complete without the story of his (relative) downfall and this book is no exception. It explains how his publishing empire (this included magazines like Good Housekeeping and Harper’s Bazaar) wilted during the great economic depression of the 1930s and why he was forced to sell some of his most prized possessions, including much of his stained glass collection.
Although some items were bought by museums and rival collectors such as Sir William Burrell in Scotland, the current location of a large part of the collection remains unknown. As a result, the full story of Hearst and his stained glass is yet to be told.
In the meantime readers interested in learning more about Hearst and his stained glass should read, Stained Glass before 1700 in American Collections: Midwestern and Western States, Corpus Vitrearum Checklist III by Madeline Caviness et al, 1989, which discusses the wider aspects of his collection and lists items now in Californian museums. Madeline Caviness’ article ‘Learning from Forest Lawn’, Speculum 69, Oct. 1994, pp. 963–992, is also useful.
Linda Cannon’s Stained Glass in the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, 1991, includes an Appendix (3) listing glass acquired by Burrell from Hearst. This included items such as a thirteenth-century panel depicting The Marriage of Cana from the cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand and windows from the Carmelite church at Boppard-am-Rhein, just south of Cologne. [Fig 6]
Thanks to: Annie Carone (LACMA); Virginia Raguin and Janis L. DesMarais, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, USA; and Jane Whannel, The Burrell Collection, Glasgow.
Medieval Stained Glass in Marburg, Haina, and Central Hesse
Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalereien in Marburg und Nordhessen, By Daniel Parello. Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi, Deutschland Band III, 3: Marburg und Nordhessen. Deutscher Verlag für Kunstwissenschaft, Berlin, 2008. Hardback, 687 pages, 1075 illustrations, 175 in colour, plans, bibliography and index. German text only. Price: Euros 128.
This is the second of three volumes cataloguing the medieval stained glass of Hesse (Hessen) published by the German CVMA (Freiburg).Volume I by Daniel Hess covering the southern part of this western-central state was published in 1999; the final volume by Uwe Gast looking at the central area above the river Maine will be published later this year. Daniel Parello’s weighty contribution explores the northern part of the state and reveals exciting new evidence about the area’s rich legacy of medieval stained glass. [Fig. 1]
The book begins with an introduction to ornamental glazing patterns in the region before discussing artistic influences such as panel paintings, manuscripts and sculpture on glass artists of the period. 800 panels in 36 locations are exhaustively described with restoration diagrams and references. The entries include examples from the middle of the thirteenth century to the early years of the sixteenth century. As Hesse was often used as a trading route between neighbouring states, it seems that many panels may have been imported from workshops in Westphalia, Lower Saxony, and Thuringia.
Inevitably the surviving windows from two of Germany’s greatest surviving monuments, St Mary’s church in Marburg and the Cistercian Abbey at Haina, 22 miles (36 kilometres) to the north, dominate the study.
The former is inseparable from the cult of St Elizabeth, indeed the church is often referred to as ‘St Elizabeth’s’ and the glazing schemes reflect this. Born in 1207, Elizabeth was a daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary. When she was fourteen she married Ludwig IV, the Landgrave (roughly equivalent to a Duke) of Thuringia and soon acquired a reputation for piety. When her husband died at the Italian port of Otranto in 1227, en route to Palestine as part of the sixth Crusade, Elizabeth left the court at Wartburg, embraced Franciscan ideals of poverty and settled in Marburg where she founded a hospital caring for the poor and sick. After her death in 1231 miracles were said to have occurred at her grave and a small church was built over the site.
Exalted by her brother-in-law, the Landgrave Konrad of Thuringia (1206–1240), and the Teutonic Knights of which he was a member (and eventually the fifth Grand Master), Elizabeth was canonised by the Vatican within four years of her death. In the same year (1235) the Knights laid the foundation stone for a new church in Marburg which would become internationally famous as her shrine. Its political importance was underlined by the fact that the Holy Roman Emperor, Fredrick II, attended this ceremony. The church was the first large completely gothic church to be built in Germany and an important centre for the Teutonic Knights. [Fig.2 ] (See Historical Note below)
Although the main body of the church, with its distinctive spires, took nearly a hundred years to complete, the eastern end of the building was finished within eight years. It comprised three semi-circular apses around a central choir. Each apse had glazing schemes of c.1245–50 and/or c.1300–15 relating to its function and purpose.
One of the many strengths of this excellent book is how the author has managed to reconstruct the original glazing programmes, notwithstanding the fact that a series of lengthy restoration campaigns beginning in the 1770s saw most of the surviving glass removed from its original location and concentrated in the eastern apse. Any left-over glass was sent to the local university museum. (illustrated on pages 644–649)
The north transept of the church was reserved for pilgrims visiting the tomb of St Elizabeth, which can still be seen in situ today. Although only one of the double lancet windows in this chapel retains most of its original thirteenth-century glazing, it seems likely that at least one, probably two, of the other main windows were also glazed at this time with similar figurative schemes. Among the panels in the surviving window, which otherwise shows scenes from the Life of St Elizabeth and St Elizabeth enacting six of the Seven Works of Mercy, there is also an infill in the same style depicting Christ’s Nativity. The most likely explanation for this ‘one-off’ is that it originally belonged to a Christological window (s) in the chapel, possibly showing infancy scenes from the Life of Christ. [Fig.3]
Around 1300, figures of standing saints, including St Elizabeth and St Katherine were added to the upper windows of this transept, complementing the altar dedications below.
The choir of the church was reserved for the Teutonic friars. The apse consisted of five windows with ten lights. At least the three central windows showed standing figures in two rows (four figures per window) It was completed around 1245–50 and had two important iconographical features.
The central lights depicted Christ flanked with a crowned Virgin Mary on his left (facing the choir) and a similarly crowned St Elizabeth on his right. St Francis of Assisi appeared below St Elizabeth.
A second notable feature of this glazing scheme was the pairing of a triumphant Ecclesia and a blindfolded Synagoga immediately above an image of the crucified Christ in a tracery light of the lower window.
Although similar images of these female figures can be found elsewhere, representing the triumph of the New Law over the old (Judaism) which is portrayed as blindfolded and unable to see the truth of the New Testament, the author suggests that the inclusion of these figures may have had a particular resonance with the Teutonic Order. Documents compiled by the Knights commending St Elizabeth’s canonisation had singled out her relentless struggles against heresy as evidence of her sanctity, and the crusading wing of the Order may also have seen parallels between the triumph of the church and their own military campaigns. [Figs. 4: 5]
In contrast to the north transept and the choir, the exact function of the south transept remains unclear although it seems likely that it was intended to serve as a mausoleum for the Landgraves, especially the aforementioned Landgrave Konrad who was buried in the church. The iconography of one of the windows supports this interpretation. As in the north transept, the glazing campaign in this part of the church was undertaken in two stages. In the first phase three double lancet windows were filled with figurative images. The first window showed scenes from Genesis including God creating the world and the Fall of Man. The second or central window was essentially typological, pairing Old Testament sacrifices in one light and scenes from The Passion of Christ in the other, similar in concept to a window at Meissen made around 1260/70, (illustrated on page 381) which showed the same subjects flanking a Tree of Jesse. The final light showed Five (of the Ten) Wise and Foolish Virgins with the Coronation of the Virgin above. [see Iconographical Note below]. [Fig. 6 ]
Between 1300 – 5, this transept also received additional figurative glazing including a distinctive image of St Mary donated by the ministry officials of the Landgrave. According to the author, this window can be definitely attributed to a Marburg-based workshop with roots in Lower Saxony. He calls this atelier the Workshop of the St Mary Window. He has also identified windows by the same workshop at Winnen, south of Marburg and at New Berich, about 80 kilometres to the north of the city.
The second great monument examined in the volume focuses on the Cistercian monastery at Haina, which was founded in 1228 and glazed around 1250 – 60. After Altenberg Abbey it contains the largest collection of monastic stained glass in Germany and here, as in other Cistercian churches, the glory lies in the rich variety of grisaille and ornamental patterns that were employed. Whereas the earliest examples installed in the Great East window or Prachtfenster consisted entirely of geometric and foliate designs, later additions of 1290/1300 and 1330/1340 used more coloured glass and included representations of cows and other animals. An important feature of this glass was the discovery of a signature from the 1250/60 glazing campaign, in Lombardic lettering: LVPVLDUS FRATER, combined with the praise AVE MARIA, suggesting that it was made by a monk, Brother Lupuldus, perhaps in a cloister workshop.
Apart from Marburg and Haina and other sites already mentioned, the book also describes important glass at Immenhausen (1420–50), several sites in Limburg (1420 –30) and the fourteenth century glazing scheme of Hersfeld parish church, initially despoiled in the late eighteenth century and subsequently damaged by a fire in 1952. Fortunately the glass removed from the church by the Landgrave William IX in 1798 to decorate a newly-built chapel at his mock gothic castle, Kassel-Wilhemshöhe, still survives and can be seen by visitors. [Fig. 8]
Avid readers of Vidimus will also add the 1290/1300 window from Ehemals Altenberg illustrated in last month’s issue, now in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, to this list.
As with other publications by the German CVMA Committees this book is a major achievement and a valuable addition to our understanding of German medieval stained glass. It breaks new ground in identifying a hitherto unknown workshop and sheds important new light on the patronage and iconography of glazing schemes extant and lost. It is extremely well produced with over 1,000 illustrations including an impressive 120 page appendix of superb black and white photographs. It is hard to imagine anything left unsaid or unshown. The author, the German CVMA (Freiberg) and the publishers are to be congratulated for producing such a splendid volume.
The Order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary’s Hospital in Jerusalem was a German religious order formed at the end of the twelfth century initally to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land. Brother-knights wore a white cloak with a black cross. The order is best known for its military crusades to christianise the Baltic states. Erik Christiansen’s The Northern Crusades (1997) is a very readable account of these campaigns. [Fig.9]
The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 1 – 13) recounts the tale of a party of virgins attending a wedding. The Wise Virgins each brought a jar of oil for the lamps they carried as they waited for the arrival of the bridegroom. The Foolish Virgins did not. When the bridegroom was late the Foolish Virgins asked the Wise ones for spare oil, but the others refused, saying that they might then not have enough. Forced to leave the event to buy more oil the Foolish Virgins subsequently found themselves excluded from the wedding after the bridegroom had arrived in their absence.
The bridegroom in the parable is interpreted by theologians as representing the second coming of Christ and the importance of Christians being prepared for the Day of Judgement. Its inclusion in the glazing of the south transept at Marburg lends extra weight to the idea that this area was intended as a mausoleum for the Landgraves.
D. Hess, Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalereien in Frankfurt und im Rhein-Main-Gebiet, Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi, Berlin, 1999.
Dr Paul Taylor of the Warburg Institute writes:
This month’s puzzle is difficult to resolve with any certainty, especially since the face of the main standing figure is missing. Other features of the design are equally perplexing, for example, the kneeling woman’s left arm is missing, and the judge’s hand seems awkwardly close to her head.
One possibility is that the roundel shows a scene from the Life of St Barbara. In the background of the composition a woman is being incarcerated in a tower. Barbara was shut in a tower by her father, and this became one of her attributes in art.
When Barbara converted to Christianity her father led her before a judge who tried to make her worship idols; this she refused to do, leading to her torture and execution. You can read the whole story online in the Medieval Sourcebook
This then could be the scene of Barbara being brought before the judge. But where is Barbara? My guess is that she is the person whose head has been restored as a male, but who must be female, given her floor-length dress. She is the only one who is not kneeling before the judge, because, as a Christian, she does not recognise his authority. The kneeling figure who appears to be holding her by the arm must then be her father. The other woman presumably is her mother, although she does not appear in the standard account in the Golden Legend; perhaps instead she is meant to be one of the servants mentioned in the text.
I don’t feel entirely confident about this identification, but it seems like a theory worth running with.