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Four panels of extremely important Renaissance stained glass dating from c. 1530–1542 from the cloisters of the Premonstratensian abbey of Steinfeld in the Eifel region of Germany, previously thought lost, have been found in a small church in south Wales.
The discovery was made by Vidimus News Editor, Roger Rosewell, during a trip to the region in connection with this month’s feature article by Andrew Renton.
The panels are in the east window of Aberpergwm Church (St Cadoc, Glynneath) and until their recent identification had been described as ‘late medieval Flemish’.
Other panels from Steinfeld are permanently displayed in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and were the subject of a major exhibition in Cologne in 2007 where they were described as, ‘Masterworks of Glass painting’.
A full report of these sensational discoveries will appear in our December issue.
More than 250 invited guests attended the premier of the fund-raising film, ‘The Race to Save the Herkenrode Glass’, at Lichfield Cathedral (Staffordshire) on 24 October 2009.
Written and produced by the well-known UK historian and TV presenter, Michael Wood and his wife, Rebecca Dobbs, the 10-minute film traces the history and significance of the glass as well as the challenges faced by conservators during the forthcoming five-year restoration of the Cathedral’s Lady Chapel. [Figs. 1 and 2]
The Herkenrode glass consists of seven windows from the Cistercian abbey of Herkenrode, near Hasselt (Liége), in modern Belgium. Made between 1532 and 1539, the glass has been the subject of two important studies by the distinguished Belgian stained glass historian, Yvette Vanden Bemden (see Notes below).
The glass was brought to England in 1802 by Sir Brooke Boothby after Napoleon had dissolved religious houses in his empire. It was purchased by the Lichfield Chapter to replace the stained glass destroyed during the English Civil War.
Together with two lesser known sixteenth-century windows in the chapel whose provenance is unclear, the glass is currently being removed by conservators from Barley Studios. When the windows are reinstated they will be provided with an internally ventilated protective glazing scheme and external wireguards designed and made by Keith Barley.
When the windows are in store it is hoped that they will be studied in further detail by members of the Belgian and British CVMA.
To contribute to the cost of conserving the glass please see the Herkenrode Just Giving page.
* Vandem Bemden, Y., ‘The 16th-Century Stained Glass from the Former Abbey of Herkenrode in Lichfield Cathedral’, The Journal of Stained Glass, XXXII, 2008, pp. 49–90
* Vandem Bemden, Y., and Kerr, J. with a contribution from Opsomer, C., ‘The Sixteenth-Century Glass from Herkenrode Abbey (Belgium) in Lichfield Cathedral’, Archaeologia, CVIII, 1986, pp. 189–226
Vidimus is grateful to Celeste Morrissey, Keith Barley and Dr Jan van Damme of the Corpus Vitrearum Belgium, for their help with this item.
Several panels of fourteenth-century stained glass are on show at an exciting multi-venue exhibition in Esslingen, near Stuttgart in southern Germany, which will run until 31 January 2010.
Between Heaven and Earth – Monasteries and Pfleghöfe in Esslingen, features panels from the choir of the former Franciscan church in Esslingen as part of a much larger exhibition which examines monastic life and the commercial buildings – ‘Pflegehöfe’– owned by monasteries in the city. [Figs. 1 and 2]
An accompanying (German-text only) catalogue, edited on behalf of the City of Esslingen by Kirsten Fast and Joachim Halbekann with the assistance of Iris Holzwart-Schaefer and Martin Knauer, includes a chapter on the stained glass by Michael Burger: ‘Die Glasmalereien der Esslinger Franziskanerkirche’. Priced at 20€, it is excellent value, with 180 illustrations. The exhibition is open Tuesday to Sunday 11.00 to 18.00, but with Christmas closures. The regular admission fee is €5.00.
For more information see the exhibition website.
A superb online exhibition of the Esslingen glass, curated by Professor Rüdiger Becksmann with texts by Kirsten Fast and illustrations by Ivo Schaible, Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevii Deutschland (Freiburg), can be viewed on the Esslingen im Mittelalter website.
There is also a splendid German-text catalogue of a specialist exhibition held in 1999 devoted to the medieval stained glass of Esslingen. Von der Ordnung der Welt by Rüdiger Becksmann. The book is normally available via used book sellers.
Vidimus is grateful to Martin Knauer for his help with this item.
Between Heaven and Hell: Medieval Art from the Gothic to Baldung Grien is a stunning loan exhibition at the Bucerius Art Club in Hamburg until 10 January 2010. Occasioned by the temporary closure of the Augustinian Museum in Freiburg, it includes a window originally made for the Freiburg Charterhouse. Dated to 1513–14, it has been attributed to the workshop of Hans Ropstein and shows a dramatic representation of the Virgin Mary grieving for her dead son (Mater Dolorosa) and pierced by seven swords, representing the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin; the Flight into Egypt; the search for the Holy Child Jesus in the temple; His arrest; flagellation; their meeting at the cross; His crucifixion and burial. [Fig. 1]
The exhibition also includes stained glass windows formerly in Freiburg Münster itself, such as ‘The Deposition of Christ’ from the Heimhofer Chapel, made by Ropstein in 1517 to a design by Hans Baldung Grien (1484/85–1545), and panels by the same partnership made around 1520 for the Locherer Chapel.
Other unmissable treasures on display include a triptych Passion altar attributed to the anonymous artist known as the Master of the House Book who is also thought to have produced designs for stained glass (active 1470–1505), and an enormous sandstone figure of a Virgin of Mercy carved around 1360.
For more information, including opening hours and admission fees see the Bucerius Art Club website.
The exhibition is accompanied by an attractive, well-illustrated German-text only catalogue, edited by Ortrud Westheider and Michael Philipp with contributions by Bodo Brinkmann, Michael Philipp, Wolfgang Christian Schneider and Tilman von Stockhausen. 254 pages, price € 24.80 from the exhibition and via Hirmer Verlag, Munich for € 39.90.
Vidimus is extremely grateful to Evelyn Edtmaier for her help with this item.
An extremely important exhibition of preparatory designs for stained glass windows (Scheibenriss) from the late fifteenth to the early seventeenth centuries is currently on show at the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Karlsruhe, (south-west Germany) until 15 November 2009.
Shining Examples: Drawings for Stained Glass from the Renaissance and Mannerism, consists of 100 designs from the Museum’s extensive stock of such drawings (1,138), together with some related examples of stained glass panels. The first time such an exhibition has been held in Germany, this is a rare opportunity to see preparatory drawings alongside some of the glass panels that were painted to these designs. Most of the drawings date from the second half of the sixteenth century until the middle of the seventeenth century when the fashion for stained glass faded under the impact of the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) and the switch to Rococo aesthetic tastes which preferred lighter interiors. Drawings by artists such as Luke Zeiner (1450–1513?); Hans Kulmbach (1480/5–1522); and, more plentifully, Tobias Stimmer (1539–1584) and Christoph Murer (1558–1614) are included. They range from detailed pen and ink compositions to linear outline designs as templates for others to complete. [Figs. 1, 2 and 3]
The drawings were made for small panels, mainly commissioned for secular settings such as private houses and civic buildings where they usually commemorated marriages, friendships and political alliances. They were especially popular in the Netherlands, southern Germany, Alsace and Switzerland. Some were also made for ‘close-looking’ in monastic cloisters or the personal quarters of religious houses.
The subjects depicted ranged from religious scenes to moralising allegories and mythological stories. Most of the glass painters worked in enamels and typical panels showed a main scene (s) set within elaborate borders. The upper parts of the panels were sometimes enhanced with smaller subsidiary scenes. Panels often featured images of donors and dates. Inscriptions were common.
One of the great strengths of this fascinating exhibition is the light it sheds on the working practices of the artists responsible for the designs. Some drawings consist only of borders, others of the smaller subsidiary scenes, in both instances revealing how workshops could maximise their efficiency by applying the same drawings to a variety of different designs. Others show traces of being copied by other artists. In a few cases, different drawings have been waxed or held together by pins to create a new design from these different elements.
Some designs show physical evidence that they were used by glass painters, probably during a tracing stage.
Among the many details revealed by Dr Ariane Mensger, the curator of the exhibition, and the editor of the excellent accompanying catalogue, is evidence that glass painters and designers worked together, possibly in the same workshop. Among her discoveries were instructions from glass painters to designers to draw particular scenes to fit predetermined shapes and sizes of intended panels. Dr Mensger believes that glass painters, not designers, were in charge of these workshops and that while some glass painters were also designers, in other cases the glass painters were reliant on the designers for artistic compositions.
The collection was acquired by Frederick V, Margrave of Baden-Durlach (1594–1659) during his exile in Strasbourg in the 1630s.
The exhibition is the culmination of a three-year research project by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), a government financed organisation that promotes research at universities and other publicly financed research institutions in Germany.
For details of the catalogue, see our BOOKS section
A campaign has been launched to prevent a unique set of watercolours by the well-known nineteenth-century stained glass artist, James Henry Nixon, from leaving the UK.
The paintings depict an extraordinary event in 1839, the so-called Eglinton jousting tournament, a three-day mock medieval pageant held at the 13th Earl of Eglinton’s Gothic revival castle on his Ayrshire estate.
About 100,000 people flocked to see the event which, although marred by heavy rain, nonetheless captured the imagination of millions.
Nixon was commissioned to record the event and did so in twenty beautiful and detailed watercolours heightened with gouache and touches of gold. They were used by the lithographers Day & Hague for a deluxe folio account of the tournament published by Colnaghi and Puckle in London 1843: A Series of views representing the Tournament held at Eglinton Castle in the year 1839 from drawings made on the spot expressly for this work by J. H. Nixon with historical and descriptive notices by the Rev. John Richardson LLB. [Fig. 1]
Most of the drawings are signed and some are dated 1840 or 1841.
See also the excellent website created by the Victorian art specialists, Abbott & Holder.
James Henry Nixon (1802–1857), was involved with stained glass as early as 1829 when he assisted John Pike Hedgeland (1792–1873) in the restoration of the fifteenth-century windows of the parish church of St Neot, Cornwall. In 1836 he became the artistic partner of Thomas Ward (1808–1870), with whom he ran the stained glass firm Nixon and Ward from 1836. During the 1830s and 1840s Nixon and Ward enjoyed considerable success, notably installing a window in the east end of St Martin’s, Owston Ferry, Lincolnshire (1836), and glass in a south transept window of Westminster Abbey (1848, removed 1902). The firm made pot metal glass with Charles Winston. After Nixon’s death, Ward began a successful partnership with Henry Hughes. When Hughes died in 1883 the firm was taken over by Curtis, a relation, and continued production as T F Curtis, Ward and Hughes until the late 1920s.
* Anstruther, I., The Knight and the Umbrella: An Account of the Eglinton Tournament, 1839, London, Geoffrey Bles Ltd, 1963
* Girouard, M., The Return to Camelot: Chivalry and the English Gentleman, Yale University Press, 1981
* Harrison, M., Victorian Stained Glass, London, 1980.
Nearly 100 people attended last month’s symposium on conservation in Canterbury cathedral.
The event began with a talk by environment consultant, Tobit Curteis, who described his installation of sensors in different parts of the cathedral, designed to monitor factors such as moisture, humidity, temperature, airflows and sunlight levels, which might damage the fabric, fixtures and fittings of the building.
The value of such monitoring was emphasised during Leonie Seliger’s presentation about her approaches to the conservation of the Cathedral’s south oculus window in the south-east transept. Dating from around 1180 and still retaining some of its original glass and ferramenta (see Vidimus 32), this 4.47 metre wide window is exposed both to high winds and to direct sunlight.
Her updates on several monitoring programmes (see Vidimus2) were particularly interesting. Two years ago the cathedral’s stained glass studio removed a section of the oculus glazing and then reinstalled it within a ‘trial’ internally ventilated protective glazing scheme. Sensors were attached to the glass and a neighbouring ‘unprotected’ section of the window to discover if there were any differences in how they performed. In addition, digital photos of both areas of glass were taken from various angles every two months for a year and run through computer programmes (photogrammetry) to see if the glass was suffering spatial distortions and, if so, whether there were any differences between how the protected and unprotected areas behaved. Sensors were also attached to the cathedral’s north oculus window which had been wholly fitted with internal protective glazing in 1994.
The results were very encouraging. No adverse affects in the trial system were found. Whereas the unprotected glass in the oculus reached temperatures of 50 degrees after only a few minutes of direct sunlight, the temperature of the protected glass remained slightly lower, as some of the solar heat was absorbed first by the protective glazing and second by the inner air space between the two sheets of glass. Instead of condensation coating the interior surface of the unprotected glass for hours, the surface of the protected glass remained consistently dry. Finally, the photogrammetric results showed no movements in either of the two sections – protected or unprotected.
Leonie concluded by confirming that the studio will now proceed to fix an internally ventilated protective glazing system for the entire window over the next year. [Fig 1]
Stained glass also featured in a presentation by Marie Louise Sauerberg of the Hamilton Kerr Institute, who discussed the condition of the painted wooden testers above the effigies of Edward, the Black Prince and Henry IV. Sensors revealed that low winter sunlight was shining directly onto one of these fragile artefacts though gaps in the medieval glazing of the Trinity chapel. The early thirteenth-century miracle windows were probably severely damaged by iconoclasm in the seventeenth century, and fell into further decay through random vandalism in the following decades. Eighteenth- or nineteenth-century reordering of the surviving glass then created these three plain-glazed windows. As soon as this was reported, protective anti-UHV blinds were fitted into the chapel.
Other sessions in the day proved equally rewarding, with Peter Whitehead speaking about the conservation of the cathedral’s historic archives and Sung-Hyun Im introducing delegates to the challenges faced by textile conservators in caring for the little known silk vestments of Archbishop Hubert Walter (d. 1205) which were recovered from his tomb in 1890.
This month’s puzzle comes from the east window of the church of St-Bridget at St Brides-Super-Ely, in south Wales.
However, instead of the usual problem of trying to identify the biblical or mythological story or subject depicted in the roundel, this month’s puzzle focuses on different aspects of the design – its theology and source. Most roundels were based on designs developed by printmakers and other artists and then copied onto roundels by glass painters. So who designed this month’s puzzle and what does it mean? Our expert team have never seen anything exactly like it before. If any reader can suggest the artistic source for this design – or others like it – we would be pleased to hear from you.
The roundel shows a naked man (soul) being pulled from the material world by an angel who is gripping his wrists while his feet have been seized by a hideous devil. The world is shown as an orb with a cross (globus cruciger), symbolising Christ’s (the cross) dominion over the world (the orb). God the Father can be seen in the sky above, directing the angel. Although it is difficult to be precise it seems to represent a judgement theme, a battle for the man’s soul, a tug-of-war between good and evil, a man seeking salvation and trying to escape damnation. It has been tentatively dated to c. 1530 and assigned to the southern Netherlands workshop. We have given it the working title of ‘By the Grace of God, a Guardian Angel wrests the soul of a man from the world and the devil’.
Have any readers seen something similar in prints and designs of the period?
If so, please write to us at editor [at] vidimus [dot] org
Mark Hall, History Officer, Perth Museum & Art Gallery (Scotland) writes:
Some help please. My research into medieval board games has revealed depictions of such play in stained glass windows. I have long known about the Prodigal Son window in Chartres Cathedral and its scene of the son playing chess; of the panel from Lyonnais in the Musée de Cluny showing two lovers playing chess (formerly in the collection of baron F de la Reche-Carelle) and of the scene of Death carrying off a bishop across a chess board, in the church of St Andrew, Norwich. [Fig. 1]
Recently I have come to suspect there may be more such scenes than I had anticipated. Chancing upon the reference to Meredith Lillich’s article on the Le Man’s tric-trac window (‘The Tric-Trac Window of Le Mans’, The Art Bulletin, 65/1, 1983, pp. 23–33) , led me to that window and two others – one in Bourges Cathedral (in the clerestory window depicting St Ursin, first bishop-saint of Bourges, beneath whom, in a rebus scene, two men play what is probably chess with a cockerel to their right) and a second in Chartres Cathedral, in the south choir clerestory which shows two men with a board game (which has also been interpreted as both glass workers making a decorative panel and two men using a chequer board for accounting purposes) in a window otherwise showing the Nativity and the Flight into Egypt. The window is signed by Colinus. In turn these windows led me to Stuart Whatling’s brilliant website – and two further windows. In Tours Cathedral is the St Eustace window, which shows Eustace’s two ‘lost’ sons playing a game that is probably meant to be chess. A second window in Bourges Cathedral shows two men gambling with dice, one of whom has lost his shirt, again part of a Prodigal Son window.
I would be delighted to hear from any readers of Vidimus if they know of any other examples of stained glass depictions of board or gambling games, in whatever context, narrative or otherwise. I can be contacted via email at mahall [at] pkc [dot] gov [dot] uk
Britain’s oldest stained glass conservation studio has launched a new website.
The site includes updates of current projects being undertaken by the studio, including the conservation of York Minster’s famous east window, details of the team, a useful bibliography about stained glass conservation and an expanding image gallery.
For more information about the York Glaziers Trust, a four-part history of the firm appeared in Vidimus, 12, 13, 14 and 16.
There is still time to buy copies of The Four Modes of Seeing; Approaches to Medieval Imagery in Honor of Madeline Harrison Caviness at an exclusive 20% discount to readers of Vidimus. To claim this discount order online readers should visit theAshgate Publishing website and enter the code H9CCB20 in the ‘Promotional Code’ field when prompted at the checkout stage. The direct link to the book is http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9780754660101.
This offer ends 31 December 2009 …just in time for Christmas!
A review of this important book appeared in our October issue.
Talks and Conferences
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.
24–25 November: ‘Raising our Game: Documenting Stained Glass Restoration in the 21st century’. Two day conference at the University of York. For details contact: pab11 [at] york [dot] ac [dot] uk.
20 November – 7 February 2010: Sordid and Sacred: The Beggars in Rembrandt’s Etchings from the John Villarino Collection exhibition at the Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoake, Virginia, USA. Features 35 rare etchings by Rembrandt van Rijn executed between 1629 and 1654. For more information, visit: www.taubmanmuseum.org
Until 6 December: The Dawn of the Gothic Age: Magdeburg Cathedral and the Late Staufer Period, at the Kulturhistorisches Museum, Magdeburg. The exhibition includes important 13th-century stained glass from Goslar. For more information see the Kulturhistorisches Museum website.For a review of the catalogue see the September 2009 issue of Vidimus.
Until 6 December: Rogier 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.
Until December 31: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts: Witnesses From Our Written Past, University of Vermont, Bailey/Howe Library, admission free. For other details see http://library.uvm.edu/news/?p=1191 see http://library.uvm.edu/hours/ .
Until 3 January 2010: Bruegel, Rembrandt & co.: Netherlandish drawings 1500–1800 is at the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Hamburg. For more information about the exhibition, see the Hamburger Kunsthalle website.
Until January 3, 2010: Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill, Yale Center for British Art, (USA). For more information see the Yale Center for British Art website.
Until 10 January 2010: Zwischen Himmel und Hölle: Kunst des Mittelalters von der Gotik bis Baldung Grien (Between Heaven and Hell: Medieval Art from the Gothic to Baldung Grien) exhibition at the Bucerius Art Club, Hamburg. For more information see the Bucerius Art Club 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 see the Kunsthistorisches Museum website.
Until 17 January 2010: Louis Comfort Tiffany:Couleurs et Lumière exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris. Window glass by this famous American designer (1848–1933) is included. For more information visit: www.museeduluxembourg.fr
Until 24 January 2010: Scripture for the Eyes, an exhibition of sixteenth century Netherlandish prints at the Michael C Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta, USA. For more information, see the Michael C Carlos Museum website. For a review of the catalogue see Vidimus32.
Until 24 January 2010: The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600–1700: The National Gallery, London. For more information see the National Gallery website.
Until 31 January 2010: Jan van Eyck: Grisailles at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. For more information visit Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Until 31 January 2010: Zwischen Himmel und Erde – Klöster und Pflegehöfe at the state museum in Essinglen.The exhibition includes stained glass. For more information see the Essinglen museum website.
Until 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:
10 February – 24 May 2010: Paris, Ville rayonnante, Le XIIIe siècle, âge d’or de l’architecture et de la sculpture exhibition at the National Museum of the Middle Ages (The Cluny) in Paris. Although not about stained glass, the exhibition will explore the architecture of buildings well known to Vidimus readers such as the Saint-Chapelle and the Chapel of the Virgin at Saint-Germain-des-Pres. For more information visit: www.musee-moyenage.fr/esp/index.html
6 March – 4 July 2010: Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. For more information see the Victoria & Albert Museum website.
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URL to article: http://vidimus.org/issues/issue-34/news/
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