- Important Gothic Stained Glass at Magdeburg Aufbruch in die Gotik Exhibition
- New Displays at the Burrell Collection
- Close Encounters with a Space Frame: Any More Out There? An Appeal to Readers
- Martham Glass Broken by Vandals
- Birthday Tribute to Rüdiger Becksmann: Outstanding Scholar of German Stained Glass
- 2009 Christmas Stamps
- Chartres Cathedral
- Friends of Ely Stained Glass Museum Summer Outing
- Scripture for the Eyes: Sixteenth-Century Netherlandish Engravings on Show in New York
- News in Brief
Important Gothic Stained Glass at Magdeburg Aufbruch in die Gotik Exhibition
Elena Kozina of the German CVMA [Freiburg] reports:
Important panels of thirteenth-century stained glass are among more than 200 masterpieces of medieval art currently on show at the Aufbruch in die Gotik, (The Dawn of the Gothic) exhibition in Magdeburg until 6 December. Organised to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the city’s famous cathedral (founded in 1209), the exhibition also features illuminated manuscripts, and sculpture from European and American collections. The exhibition has been organised by the Kulturhistorisches Museum Magdeburg under the auspices of the Land Sachsen-Ánhalt and Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert, President of the Bundestag.
The stained glass consists of two extremely fine exhibits. The first features two roundels formerly in the Unser Lieben Frauen (Our Beloved Lady) Monastery in Magdeburg. Meticulously catalogued by CVMA (Potsdam) author, Eva Fitz, they show the head of an unknown male holy figure and the head of a female figure surrounded by the inscription Oboedientia (Obedience). They date from around 1230. The second exhibit contains two slightly later, but nonetheless extremely rare, panels depicting incidents in the lives of the twin brothers Sts Cosmas and Damian, third century Christian physician/healers who were martyred during the Diocletian persecutions. For readers unfamiliar with their story, the saints were tortured and executed on the orders of Lycias, the Roman pro-consul in Cicilia, around AD 287 after refusing to worship the pagan Gods of Rome. When miracle cures were said to have occurred at their tomb in Cyrrhus in Syria, their cult spread quickly. They became extremely popular in ninth-century Germany after Bishop Altfried of Hildesheim acquired some of their relics, reputedly from Pope Sergius II (Pope 844 -847). [Figs. 1 and 2]
The panels were made for the Marktkirche (Market church) in Goslar, Lower Saxony, around c. 1270 and are the best preserved of eleven remaining fragments.
The panels were originally located in a lancet window in the choir (n II), where they would have almost certainly been destroyed by iconoclasts during the Reformation but for the fact that they had been concealed from public view by the construction of a two-storey sacristy in 1535.
They were rediscovered in the nineteenth century.
Following the destruction of the frescoes of Essen cathedral during World War II, the Goslar windows are now the oldest surviving examples of any narrative cycle devoted to these saints in Germany.
The panels are not only important for their iconography and their chance survival. They are also significant in terms of art history and design. Their dimensions (81.5 cm by 45 cm), make them unusually elongated and narrow. This appears to be an early response to the challenge of glazing lancet windows. The panels had to fit the recently invented format and to do so it seems that the original models, traditionally used for such panels, were ‘squeezed’, flattened, and, in the episode of interrogation of Cosmas and Damian by proconsul Lycias, divided into two parts in a rather mechanical way. The two pieces selected for the exhibition – Sts Cosmas and Damian Healing People and Animals and Sts. Cosmas and Damian in the Furnace – are the first examples of this iconography in the lives of the healer-saints. The very style of the windows of Goslar reveals features peculiar for the time of transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic: archaic architectural niches, bold figures tightly filling the panel, flattened draperies, and linear creases in the Zackenstil (zig-zag style), finally, austere faces with pursed lips. All these qualities are fully rooted in the tradition of panel and wall painting of the Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony region), and they allow us to place the Goslar stained glass alongside other transitional and significant monuments of the thirteenth century, such as the frescoes of Braunschweig cathedral (1240/50), the retable from Wetter (1240–70), the Antependium of Sts Simon and Judas (c.1263) and, the retable from Quedlinburg (c. 1270), lost during World War II.
For more information, visit the Kulturhistorisches Museum website. (English translated pages can be accessed via Google)
A beautifully produced two-volume catalogue accompanies the exhibition: See BOOKS for further details.
New Displays at the Burrell Collection
New displays at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow (Scotland) are enriching one of the greatest collections of medieval stained glass in the world.
Marie-Luise Stumpff, the senior conservator at the Burrell, describes the new and changing displays at the Museum and picks her five personal favourites among the 706 pieces of stained glass she cares for: [Fig. 1]
Most of our large-scale figural glass is shown in the south gallery which is about 50 metres (164 feet) long and glazed from floor to ceiling. Smaller pieces, either intended for close-looking or which benefit by being shown at eye level are arranged in an inner gallery where they are displayed in light boxes. Other important arrangements form part of three period room displays in the museum, recreations of rooms as they were furnished at Hutton castle, Sir William’s Scottish home, until his death in 1958. [Fig. 2]
We are currently changing some of the displays in the south gallery where we have recently installed one of our finest panels – The Conversion of the Jew – from the church of St Peter Mancroft in Norwich. Made around 1453-55, it was acquired by Sir William from an antique dealer in 1948 and shows a scene from an apocryphal story repeated in The Golden Legend (see note below) in which a Jewish ‘prince of the priests’ converts to Christianity after unsuccessfully attempting to overturn the funeral bier of the Virgin Mary. The preceding scene to this panel is still at St Peter Mancroft and both panels are described in David King’s marvellous CVMA catalogue of this glass published in 2006. One of the interesting details of our panel is the pattern of leopard’s heads on the surcoat of the kneeling knight-like figure. A possible interpretation of this pattern was discussed in a book review article about political propaganda in fifteenth century stained glass which appeared in Vidimus 22 (October 2008). According to David King, the heraldry could be an allegorical representation of William de la Pole, 1st Duke of Suffolk, the king’s representative in East Anglia in which capacity he clashed with the wealthy merchants who ran the city. [Fig. 3]
In the next few weeks we hope to display other panels in this Gallery in a new way.
We will be transferring some thirteenth-century French glass from the cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand showing The Marriage at Cana, currently exhibited in the inner gallery, and pairing it next to a fifteenth-century German representation of the story so that viewers can compare how different artists at different times showed the same event. The thirteenth-century glass uses smaller pieces of largely pot metal glass in a skilful network of leads to depict a rather formal image. The Rhenish glass which was previously part of the Costessey Collection, a spectacular collection formed by the 6th Baron of Costessey in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and sold by his descendants in 1918, uses larger pieces of stained and painted white (or clear) glass, employing techniques such as perspective and portraiture which make the panel more naturalistic. [Figs. 4 and 5]
Apart from improving our displays in this gallery we are also prototyping new frames for this location which will make it easier to remove panels for inspection in the workshop or for display elsewhere.
Transferring the Clermont-Ferrand glass from the inner gallery to the south gallery will make room to display some interesting panels currently in store. The new exhibits will almost certainly include an attractive sixteenth-century square Swiss panel which shows a Pageant and Mock Tournament taking place in a courtyard. [Fig. 6]
We also have some future projects on the drawing board. Until recently we showed around sixty pieces of heraldic glass in the café. These included some fine examples from Vale Royal Abbey in Cheshire. We are currently investigating different ways of showing this glass. The previous arrangement proved difficult for visitors to see in such a busy venue and impossible for guides to show parties around while the café was buzzing. Twenty five years of being near food and kitchens had also made the glass very dirty. Changes in the management and the night-time use of the café for events provided an added urgency to relocate the glass. Among the possibilities we are considering is to have smaller displays of the heraldic panels in different areas of the museum, where we can provide better information and improved access to this important part of the collection.
We also plan to make improvements to the display of the glass in the period rooms. One of the great strengths of the museum is the fabulous medieval tapestry collection amassed by Sir William, parts of which are shown in these rooms. We need to protect these 500 year-old treasures from any light damage, but the use of blinds in these rooms effectively means that the glass can rarely be seen.
Finally we asked Marie to name her five favourite pieces from the collection.
The first of my favourites is also the first piece of glass that I worked on after I came to the Burrell in 1991 – it is a Rhenish or French fifteenth-century depiction of The Coronation of the Virgin in which St Mary is portrayed wearing a blue mantle spangled with stars over a richly-patterned yellow dress edged with ermine. It is now on display at St Mungo’s Museum of Religious Life and Art in Glasgow. This piece also once belonged to the Costessey collection, but the reason I am so fond of it is that I feel I know it inside and out: I carried out a full conservation treatment, which took almost a year to complete. [Fig. 7]
I am also particularly fond of The Conversion of the Jew panel from St. Peter Mancroft and the c. 1275 -85 French panel depicting the Marriage at Cana. The paintwork on both is fabulous and they are such good examples of their kind.
The c. 1440 – 46 glass from the Carmelite Church at Boppard-am-Rhein is simply stunning. The dramatic scale of the figures and the intensity of the painting propels them into a special class of their own. [Fig. 8]
My final favourite is a very early English donor panel (late thirteenth century) in stained glass which shows Beatrix van Valkenburg, third wife of Richard, Earl of Cornwall (1209 -1272). This little stained glass panel is such a formalised picture and yet the portrait of a real live woman – when I look at it I get a real sense of time passing and a sense of how privileged I am in being allowed to work on this fantastic collection. [Fig. 9]
For the story of the Funeral of the Virgin see the Internet Medieval Sourcebook website.
For the Burrell Collection Glass
- W. Wells, Stained and Painted Heraldic Glass: Burrell Collection, Glasgow, 1962
- W. Wells, Stained and Painted Glass: Burrell Collection, Glasgow, 1965
- W. Wells, ‘Stained Glass from Boppard-on-Rhein in the Burrell Collection’, Scottish Art Review, 10, 1966, pp. 22–25
- L. Cannon, Stained Glass in the Burrell Collection, Edinburgh, 1991
For a History of the Burrell Collection:
- R. Marks, Burrell: A Portrait of a Collector, Sir William Burrell 1961–1958, Glasgow, 1983
Other books of interest
For a description of the St Peter Mancroft glass see:
- D. King, The Medieval Stained Glass of St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, CVMA (GB) V, Oxford 2006.
For a description of the Boppard-am-Rhein glass see:
- R. Becksmann, ‘Learning from Muskau: The Throne of Solomon Window from the Carmelite Church at Boppard and its Donation by Jakob von Sierck, Archbishop of Trier (1439–56)’, in E. Staudlinger Lane, E. Carson Pastan & E. M. Shortfell (eds), The Four Modes of Seeing, Ashgate, 2009, pp. 111–132
- This recently published study supersedes previous conjectured reconstructions of the scheme, in particular: J. Hayward ‘Stained-Glass Windows from the Carmelite Church at Boppard-am-Rhein. A Reconstruction of the Glazing Program of the North Nave’, Metropolitan Museum Journal, 2, 1969, pp. 75–114.
For a description of The Costessey Collection see:
- M. Drake with an introductory article by A. Vallance, F.S.A., The Costessey Collection of Stained Glass formerly in possession of George William Jerningham 8th Baron Stafford of Costessey in the County of Norfolk, Exeter, 1920.
- M. B. Shephard, ‘Our Fine Gothic Magnificence: The Nineteenth-Century Chapel at Costessey Hall (Norfolk) and its Medieval Glazing’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 54, 1995, pp. 186–207.
Close Encounters with a Space Frame: Any More Out There? An Appeal to Readers
The oculi (round windows) on the north- and south-east transepts of Canterbury Cathedral were constructed in 1178-80 and are 4.47m/14 feet 6 inches in diameter. The opening is divided by a geometric design of ferramenta (the iron bars to which the glass is attached) which stretch across the entire void of the window. On the south oculus (and originally on the north), these ferramenta are braced by an effective space frame; a dense grid of slender circular bars attached to the outer surface of the ferramenta by riveted spacer bars or pins. This elegant and effective double-brace system transforms the relatively flexible ferramenta into a totally rigid space frame which has survived for 800 years. [Figs. 1 and 2]
This ingenious technology was required when the Romanesque desire for enormous windows had not yet been replaced by the Gothic solution of stone tracery. In France, one sees the oculus falling out of fashion, blocked in Notre Dame, Paris; filled with later tracery at St Laurent, Eu; St Frambourg, Senlis; and St Thomas, Crépy-en-Valois. Forms of double frame, held by spacer bars, have been noted on later examples: the west oculus at Laon; lancets at Marienstatt; and across a smaller roundel at Bourges. In these cases the space frame seems to be an optional extra as the window spans are relatively small.
But Canterbury is very different. Leonie Seliger (Canterbury Cathedral Glass Workshop) and Jane Geddes (Aberdeen University) are looking for other examples of a space frame which braces a very large window. Is this a new technology in the late twelfth century; where does it occur and how long does it remain in use? Does any reader know of other examples?
Martham Glass Broken by Vandals
Historic fifteenth- and sixteenth-century glass at St Mary’s parish church, Martham (near Great Yarmouth) in Norfolk has been damaged by vandals.
The glass forms part of a scheme in the east window of the north aisle which incorporates a number of different fragments and panels, both local Norwich work and later continental inserts.
The damage consists of three small holes; one in the head of a figure in a scene of the Resurrection and two in the drapery of other figures. [Figs. 1 and 2]
The repair of the glass is being undertaken by Terry Devlin of the Norfolk-based conservators, Devlin Plummer. Speaking to Vidimus Terry said that the glass can be repaired with only some minor repainting. He stressed the urgent need to fix external protective grilles to the window to prevent further attacks.
Unfortunately the financial resources of the parish are limited and a fund has been launched to help protect the glass. Readers who wish to contribute should send donations to:
St Mary’s Martham PCC, c/o the Revd. Jeanette Crafer, St. Marys Rectory, Black St, Martham, Great Yarmouth, NR29 4PR.
To see further pictures from Martham visit the CVMA picture archive.
- E.S. Taylor, ‘ Notices of the Church of Martham, Norfolk, Previous to its Restoration in 1856’, Norfolk Archaeology, 5, 1859, pp. 168 -179.
Birthday Tribute to Rüdiger Becksmann: Outstanding Scholar of German Stained Glass
Vidimus is delighted to join family, friends and colleagues in celebrating the 70th birthday of Professor Rüdiger Becksmann, one of the world’s leading scholars of medieval stained glass and a pivotal figure in the history of the German CVMA. [Fig 1]
Born on 3 July 1939 at Heidelberg, Dr. Becksmann initially studied art history, classical and Christian archaeology, at Freiburg and Berlin before being awarded his doctorate in 1965 for a study of the relationship between gothic architecture and stained glass. He subsequently became the research assistant of Hans Wenzel (1913 – 75), the author of the CVMA catalogue, Die Glasmalereien in Schwaben von 1200-1350, before founding – and leading – the research centre of medieval stained glass in Stuttgart, now in Freiburg, for almost thirty five years. Despite his official retirement in 2004, Dr Becksmann remains attached to the research centre (now led by Dr. Hartmut Scholz) and continues to publish important studies of stained glass.
From 1970 to 1988 Rüdiger was the secretary of the German national committee of the CVMA. From 1975 to 1987 he was the vice-president of the international CVMA and since March 1991 he has been the president of the national committee of the German CVMA and a member of the epigraphic commission of the academy in Heidelberg. Since 1981 he has held an honorary professorship in Stuttgart. He is also a member of the board of the Deutscher Verein für Kunstwissenschaft (German Association for Art Research Association) in Berlin.
Rüdiger Becksmann is the author and editor of the standard works on German Stained Glass of the Middle Ages, Deutsche Malerei des Mittelalters. Voraussetzungen, Entwicklungen, Zusammenhänge. Einführung und Katalog, Volumes 1 and 2 (1995) and many other studies. These include several CVMA volumes: Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalereien in Baden und der Pfalz (ohne Freiburg), Berlin, 1979; Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalereien in Schwaben von 1350-1530 (ohne Ulm), Berlin, 1986; with Ulf-Dietrich Korn, Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalereien in Lüneburg und den Heideklöstern, Berlin, 1993.
Apart from his publishing output, Dr Becksmann has also played a key role in some of the most important exhibitions featuring stained glass, in particular:
* Die Zeit der Staufer in 1977 at the Württembergisches Landesmuseum in Stuttgart, focusing on art of the House of Hohenstaufen (or the Staufer) German Kings (1138-1254)
* Von der Ordnung der Welt, (By the rules of the world): celebrating the stained glass at Essligen in 1997
and the glorious
* Himmelslicht (Heaven’s Light) at Cologne’s Schnütgen Museum in 1998/99.
To celebrate his birthday Vidimus asked Rudiger to recommend five (German) windows which stained glass enthusiasts ought to see before they die. He chose:
1. The Jesse Tree window formerly in the choir of Freiburg Cathedral (Münster), now in the crossing, c. 1220. [Fig 2]
2. The typological Bible window in the choir of the Franciscan church at Esslingen, c. 1325.
3. The Passion of Christ window in the choir of Königsfelden abbey, c. 1325/30.
4. The east window depicting the Infancy of Christ in the Besserer chapel, Ulm cathedral. Made by the workshop of Hans Acker, 1430-31. [Fig 3]
5. The Volckamer family window in the church of St. Lorenz in Nürnberg, depicting the donors alongside holy figures with the Tree of Jesse and other saints above. Made by the workshop of Peter Hemmels in Strassburg, 1481. [Fig 4].
2009 Christmas Stamps
The 2009 GB Christmas postage stamps will feature the Christmas story as depicted in stained glass windows, a theme previously used in 1971 and 1992. The new stamps will go on sale on 3 November. The windows on the stamps will be as follows;
Second class: Angel by William Morris, St James’s church, Staveley, Kendal, Cumbria.
First class: Madonna and Child by Henry Holiday, St Michael’s church, Ormesby, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
56p: Joseph by Henry Holiday, St Michael’s church, Minehead, Somerset
90p: Wise Man by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, St Mary the Virgin, Rye, East Sussex
£1.36: Shepherd by Henry Holiday, St Mary’s, Upavon, Wiltshire.
For more details see the Royal Mail website.
To view a wider selection of stamps for sale featuring stained glass windows see http://www.avionstamps.com and use the search facility.
Dramatic changes to the internal decoration of Chartres cathedral will transform how its famous stained glass will be seen by future visitors.
Twenty years ago, traces of the medieval cathedral’s thirteenth-century polychromy were discovered under the grime of centuries. Now the cathedral authorities are returning it to the way it looked when the building was consecrated in 1260.
The first stage of the restoration will be unveiled just before Christmas, with walls painted with a light ochre wash and white ‘masonry pattern’, which imitates regular ashlar. Similarly the vault bosses are being repainted red, green, black and gold, based on the fragments of medieval colour which have survived.
With €6m of European, French state and local government funding already in place, work will begin on other parts of the cathedral next year, and should be complete by 2014.
Talking to The Independent newspaper in England, Gilles Fresson, the historian overseeing the work for the rectorate of Chartres cathedral admitted that: ‘You could say that we are taking a risk by transforming something which is admired and loved by so many people, but you could also say that we are putting our trust in the people who first conceived this beautiful place.
People sometimes think of Gothic architecture as dark and sombre, but that is not the way that the original architects and masons saw their work. Cathedrals were originally intended as a way of gaining a glimpse of paradise on earth. They were designed to be ethereal buildings, temples of light.’
Chartres is already unique in several ways. It was completed in just 30 years. Unlike most other cathedrals, it has never been extensively rebuilt, and has retained 80 per cent of its original stained glass.
‘There is no doubt that we will lose something, even if we gain a great deal,’ he said. ‘The sense of mystery, the sense of the passing ages, which you receive when you enter the dark interior of today, will be replaced by something fresher and much more dynamic.’
Concerns have been expressed, in particular, about the effect of the restoration on Chartre’s exquisite stained glass windows: the most complete, and to many people the most beautiful anywhere in the world. The glass is also being gradually restored, largely with money raised by charitable appeals.
‘You could argue that the power of the windows has been increased by the cathedral’s dark interior and that their beauty will therefore suffer,’ said Mr Fresson. ‘Our first impression, from the work so far, is that the effect will be different, but no less beautiful.’
Within their new white surroundings, the ‘rose’, or large circular windows, are even more dramatic, he said. The vertical upper windows stand out against the pale ochre of the walls.
In the darkened, unrestored interior, the windows shine like individual jewels, he said. In the section under restoration, Mr Fresson said, ‘you feel that you are in a shower of light and colour, as if you were bathing in an atmosphere gleaming with all the colours of the windows at once. The cathedral becomes an ensemble again, as the medieval creators intended.’
To read the full story see The Independent website.
Friends of Ely Stained Glass Museum Summer Outing
More than fifty ‘Friends of Ely Stained Glass Museum’ enjoyed this year’s August summer outing. The first stop was St Nicholas’s church, Stanford-on-Avon (Northamptonshire) where Professor Richard Marks proved an outstanding guide to its important collection of glass, which ranges in date from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. A splendid tea party later in the afternoon in the grounds of George Wigley’s fourteenth-century home near Towcester provided an extremely pleasant finale to a very successful day. [Fig 1]
To become a Friend of the Museum, see the Stained Glass Museum website.
To see images from Stanford see the CVMA picture archive.
Scripture for the Eyes: Sixteenth-Century Netherlandish Engravings on Show in New York
The always interesting Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in New York is holding an exhibition of 79 seldom-seen engravings, woodcuts, and illustrated Bibles and books by sixteenth-century Netherlandish artists such as Lucas van Leyden, Maarten van Heemskerck, and Philips Galle, until 27 Septemberr 2009.
Many of these artists provided designs for stained glass roundels and much of their work reflected the religious turmoil of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation that engulfed Europe at that time.
Scripture for the Eyes is curated by James Clifton (Director, the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation) and Walter Melion (Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History, Emory University).
After showing in New York, the exhibition will travel to the Carlos Museum in Atlanta where it will open on 17 October 2009 and remain until 24 January 2010.
For details of opening times and more information about the current New York exhibition see the Museum of Biblical Art website.
A beautifully illustrated catalogue written by the curators accompanies the exhibition. See BOOKS for more information and a review.
News in Brief
Hungate Medieval Art – Autumn Lectures
The Hungate Medieval Art Centre in Norwich is holding two special lecture events this autumn.
On 15 October at 7.30 Claire Daunton will speak about the role of patrons in the commissioning of medieval stained glass, with special reference to the exhibition she has curated in the Centre. Tickets are £4.50 on the door (£3.50 if pre-booked).
On 5 November at 7.30 Susan Matthews MBE, the curator of the Stained Glass Museum in Ely, will speak about the museum and its exhibits. Tickets are £4.50 on the door (£3.50 if pre-booked). For more information or to book tickets contact Dale Copley : 01603 623254 (office hours) or Dale [dot] Copley [at] hungate [dot] org [dot] uk.
William Dowsing Website
A fascinating website featuring a complete transcription of William Dowsing’s notorious ‘Journal’ in which he catalogued the destruction of thousands of stained glass windows during the Puritan ‘Reformation’ of 1643 – 44 is now online.
The William Dowsing website was produced in conjunction with a book devoted to his life and Journal which first appeared in 2001 and is now available as a ‘print on demand edition’ from the publishers – see this month’s BOOKS pages for a review article.
We are adding a permanent link to this site under a new TEXTS category in our LINKS pages.
Louvre Museum Stained Glass Online
The Louvre Museum in Paris has recently made images and descriptions of 30,000 items in its world-famous collection accessible on-line. These currently include over 70 images of ‘stained glass’, mostly sixteenth and seventeenth century Swiss panels and northern European roundels. Exceptions include an early sixteenth panel depicting St Katherine of Alexandria thought to have come from the church of Saint-Nicolas-de-Port (Meurthe-et-Moselle) and attributed to Valentin Bousch [No.48] and thirteenth century glass from Soissons (Nos. 61:62). [Fig.1]
See the image collection on the Louvre website. More images may be added later.
Books for Sale
The Galerie du Vitrail in Chartres (France) has published a catalogue of more than 400 new and used books about stained glass.
To view the catalogue see the Galerie du Vitrail website.
There is an English version of the site. If in doubt, look under Librairie.
Name that Roundel!
This month’s puzzle is another example from Lincoln College, Oxford, formerly owned by Sir Walter Oakshott (1903 –1987), see Vidimus 30. The roundel shows two scenes. In the foreground and dominating the right side of the design is a standing figure wearing a crown and holding a sceptre, almost certainly a king. A bare-headed man kneels in front of him holding a gold cup and a necklace. There is an empty strong box with its lid open on the ground between them. A similar necklace is held by the king’s queen who could be giving or receiving the jewellery. The secondary scene appears in the middle left of the panel where several men are shown kneeling with their hands clasped as in prayer before the same royal grouping. [Fig.1]
When William Cole included this roundel in his Catalogue of Netherlandish and North European Roundels in Britain, Corpus Vitrearum Great Britain, Summary Catalogue 1, Oxford, 1993, he described the subject as showing ‘A king offered gifts’ and summarised it as ‘a man kneels and displays crowns and jewels to a king and a queen. Middle ground scene shows the king and queen pardoning two men.’ (Page 198)
But what story does the panel tell, and is it the same as Cole implied?
The Dutch stained glass historian, Dr Kees Berseik, has dated the roundel to c 1525-1530 and classified it as product of the Pseudo- Ortkens Group/workshop. A photograph of a cartoon/drawing of this scene belongs to the The Netherlands Institute for Art History [RKD] in Amsterdam. The photograph was taken in 1921 when the drawing belonged to the collection of E. Rodrigues (see Amsterdam, Auctionhouse F. Muller, July 12, 1921, lot no. 185). In 1937 the drawing was re-sold by the same auction house (Amsterdam, Auctionhouse F. Muller, April 27, 1937, lot no 500) as coming from the former collection of J. Wiegertsma, Utrecht (?). Its present whereabouts are unknown.
Roundels of this period depicted a range of subjects, including stories from the Old and New Testaments, the lives of saints, and tales from ancient history and classical literature, such as Homer’s Odyssey.
The solution to this month’s puzzle is contributed by Dr Paul Taylor of the Warburg Institute in London. His explanation can be found at the foot of the BOOKS section.
If any reader has any comments or queries about this, and other panels in the series, please write to: news [at] vidimus [dot] org.
31 August – 6 December: ‘The Dawn of the Gothic age: Magdeburg Cathedral and the Late Staufer Period’, at the Kulturhistorisches Museum, Magdeburg. The exhibition includes important thirteenth-century stained glass from Goslar. For more information see the Kulturhistorisches Museum website.
Until 8 November: ‘Out of Bounds: Images in the Margins of Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts’, at the Getty Centre, Los Angeles, California. Although only about manuscripts, interesting parallels with imagery in medieval stained glass can be seen. For more information see the Getty Centre website.
16–18 September: The 2009 annual conference of the Society of Glass Technology will be held at Lancaster University. The ‘History and Heritage’ sessions will take place on 18 September. Speakers will include Keith Barley on protective glazing schemes; CVMA Chairman, Sarah Brown, on the new MA Conservation of Stained Glass programme at York University; and conservator Ruth Cooke describing a case study of the conservation of a fifteenth-century stained glass window from the Savile Chapel, St Michael and All Angels, Thornhill (Yorkshire). For more information and updates see the Society of Glass Technology website.
20 September – 6 December: ‘Roger van der Weyden, c.1400 –1464: Master of Passions’. This exhibition will be held at the newly refurbished ‘M’ museum in Leuven, Belgium. For more information see the museum website.
6 October: Stained Glass Museum Autumn Lecture, 7.30pm, Ely Methodist Church. Dr Frank Woodman FSA will speak about – Becket’s Glassy Bones – The Glazing of Canterbury Cathedral. For more information, see the Stained Glass Museum website.
15 October: Hungate Medieval Art Centre (Norwich) Autumn Lecture, 7.30 pm at the Centre. Claire Daunton will speak about the role of patrons in the commissioning of medieval stained glass with special reference to the exhibition she has curated in the Centre. Tickets are £4.50 on the door and £3.50 if pre-booked. For more information or to book tickets contact Dale Copley: 01603 623254 (office hours) or Dale [dot] Copley [at] hungate [dot] org [dot] uk.
15 October: New Solutions for Old Problems: Symposium on Conservation at Canterbury Cathedral. For more information see the Canterbury Cathedral website.
16 October: The Icelandic stained glass artist, Leifur Breidfjord, will speak about his vision and work at The British Society of Master Glass Painters Winter Lecture; 6.30 for 7.00pm at The Art Workers Guild, Queen Square, London WC1 (Admission by ticket only). For booking details see the see the BSMGP website.
20 October: Stained Glass Museum Autumn Lecture, 7.30pm, Ely Methodist Church. The well-known stained glass painter and conservator Alf Fisher will speak about – ‘Studio Reminiscences of James Powell & Sons’. For more information, see the Stained Glass Museum website.
3 November: Stained Glass Museum Autumn Lecture, 7.30 pm, Ely Methodist Church. Professor John Morrill will speak about ‘William Dowsing and the destruction of religious images in the English Civil War’. For more information, see the Stained Glass Museum website.
5 November: Hungate Medieval Art Centre (Norwich) Autumn Lecture, 7.30 at the Centre. Susan Matthews MBE, the curator of the Stained Glass Museum in Ely, will speak about the Museum and its exhibits. Tickets are £4.50 on the door and £3.50 if pre-booked. For more information or to book tickets contact Dale Copley: 01603 623254 (office hours) or Dale [dot] Copley [at] hungate [dot] org [dot] uk
9 November: Glyn Davies of the Victoria and Albert Museum will speak about the stained glass in the museum’s new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at a special Worshipful Company of Glaziers Lecture, The Glaziers Hall, 9 Montague Close, London Bridge, London SE1 9DD. Admission is £5. For more information contact: info [at] worshipfulglaziers [dot] com.
13 November – 26 February 2010: ‘Botticelli’, an exhibition of 80 works by the Italian renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli and his circle at the Städel museum, Frankfurt. For more information visit the Städel museum website:
17 November: Stained Glass Museum Autumn Lecture, 7.30pm, Ely Methodist Church. Lady Alexandra Wedgwood will speak on – ‘Pugin and the Decorative Arts at the Palace of Westminster’. For more information, see the Stained Glass Museum website.
Until 10 January 2010: Charles the Bold (1433 –1477) Art, War and the Courtly Splendour of Burgundy, at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) in Vienna (Wien). A BOOK review of the exhibition catalogue appeared in Vidimus 30. For more information visit the Kunsthistorisches Museum website.