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Spectacular displays of stained glass are now on show in the newly opened Medieval and Renaissance Galleries at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Occupying an entire wing of the museum and showing more than 1800 priceless objects, the galleries are simply unmissable for Vidimus readers.
Treasures on display include twelfth-century glass from Canterbury Cathedral, the royal abbey of Saint-Denis and Troyes; thirteenth-century glass from the Sainte-Chapelle and the Parisian abbey of Sainte-Germain-de-Prés; fourteenth-century glass from Winchester College and the Wallfahrtskirche (pilgrim’s church) at Strassengel, near Graz, Austria. Also on display is a spectacular series of early sixteenth-century panels from the Chapel of the Holy Blood in Bruges. Stained glass for domestic interiors, including English roundels, also features, as do panels from Steinfeld Abbey and Swiss glass attributed to Luke Zeiner. A new ground-floor gallery wows visitors with a magnificent display of large windows including the crucifixion of Christ from Altenberg Abbey, and a reconstructed window from Mariawald Abbey (Room 50b). [Figs. 1, 2 and 3]
Speaking to Vidimus, Paul Williamson, Keeper of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass at the museum, said: ‘The glass is paired with other wonderful objects including sculpture, ivories and tapestries, to give visitors a context for the art and design of each unfolding period. Elsewhere in the museum, in rooms 83 and 84, we are also showing another 250 pieces, essentially as a study exhibition where people can explore the materials and techniques used by glass-makers and painters during the middle ages and later. Nor are we resting on our laurels, by December 2010 we hope to show even more panels from Steinfeld Abbey in the museum.’
The result is simply stunning.
Admission to the museum is free. For details of opening hours etc., see the Victoria and Albert Museum website.
To see more glass from the museum see the CVMA picture archive.
•P. Williamson, Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, V&A Publications, 2004
•The Victoria and Albert museum has also published a book to accompany the opening of the new galleries: Medieval and Renaissance Art: People and Possessions by Glyn Davies and Kristin Kennedy.
Last month we reported the discovery, in the small church of St Cadoc at Glynneath, Glamorgan, of four lost panels of sixteenth-century stained glass from Steinfeld Abbey, Germany. We can now exclusively reveal that another panel, which we illustrated in the same issue, is also from Steinfeld.
It was found at the chapel of St Mary and St Michael, Llanarth (Gwent), and shows the Circumcision of Christ. CVMA author David King has confirmed that it was part of an Infancy of Christ sequence in the abbey cloister, where it appeared alongside a depiction of the Nativity, now displayed at Blickling Hall, a National Trust property in Norfolk.
For more information about these discoveries and a history of the Steinfeld Abbey glazing, see our special Steinfeld supplement in this month’s Feature section.
USA CVMA Committee member Mary Shepard reports
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has recently completed a reinstallation of late-medieval stained glass in the Museum’s main building on Fifth Avenue. Twenty-three panels and compositions, many of which have been in storage for some years, are now on view in the south end of the Medieval Treasury close to the late-medieval sculpture and tapestries shown in the adjoining Medieval Sculpture Hall. Among the notable works included are the Virgin of the Apocalypse from Cologne (1430–35), four panels from the German church of Boppard am Rhein (1445) showing scenes from the Life of Christ, and two mid-fifteenth century panels depicting the Annunciation and Nativity from Burgundy. The lancet depicting the Archangel Michael and a Donor (probably Paris, c. 1500) has not been on view since 1991, when the Museum’s Arms and Armor Galleries were reorganised. Purchased for the Museum by Bashford Dean, the first curator of Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan, this window light was initially intended to instruct the public in the appearance of medieval armor. Now exhibited within the context of other examples of late-medieval stained glass, its virtuosic painting and elegant design can be fully appreciated.
The composite window of late-medieval English glass, assembled by the dealer Grosvenor Thomas and glass-painter Wilfred Drake, was retained in its original configuration. As such, it remains a benchmark of marketing to American taste at the turn of the twentieth century. When it was purchased in 1912, this Decorated-style window was lauded as one of the most important works of European glass painting in America. What was then important to the Museum was that the window was large and that it was English. Of course, we now recognize that it is not an integral composition and can broadly point to the origin of the window’s individual parts, including standing figures of saints probably from Gloucestershire, angels with Passion shields conceivably from Cheshire, a figure of a king possibly painted in London, and lovely seaweed tracery lights also thought to be from Cheshire. Yet, the provenance for all these panels remains unknown. As Thomas and Drake’s likely intent in assembling the window was to market disparate panels which would be difficult to sell individually, the window certainly provides important testimony to American priorities in the early history of collecting stained glass in the United States. But perhaps surprisingly, after almost one hundred years in this configuration, the window provides a harmonious and unexpectedly effective reflection of a Decorated stained-glass window.
The installation was overseen by Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters. Daniel Kershaw was the designer.
J. Hayward, English and French Medieval Stained Glass in the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, revised and edited by Mary B. Shepard and Cynthia Clark, with an introduction by Mary B. Shepard. 2 Vols, Harvey Miller: London, Turnhout. New York, 2003.
A mid-fifteenth century commission by Archbishop John Stafford (d.1452) for stained glass windows, possibly for the great hall of his Canterbury archiepiscopal palace at Croydon, south London, is discussed by Dr Kate Heard in the latest issue of the Journal of Ecclesiastical History.
Documentary evidence for such commissions is extremely rare. The details were discovered among a miscellany of papers assembled by the fifteenth-century antiquary, William Worcester, now in the British Library. The document includes a list of selected former archbishops of Canterbury and bishops of Bath and Wells (from where Stafford had been promoted in 1443), together with a request for a choice of the figures to be depicted in seven three-light side windows (12 and 9 figures respectively). This was to be part of a wider scheme which featured the Archbishop’s ordination in the east wall of the hall and three panes (roundels?) showing ‘Busyness’, ‘Idleness’, and ‘Goodness’ at the foot of the stairs. [Fig. 1]
The author suggests that the principal theme of the windows falls within a tradition of episcopal artistic commissions, asserting the place of the patron within the sacred lineage of his see. She cites the inclusion of twelve archbishops of Canterbury in the glazing scheme at All Souls College, Oxford, commissioned by Stafford’s predecessor, Archbishop Henry Chichele (1364–1443) as an interesting comparison.
Dr Heard also makes another suggestion of great interest. Stafford was the illegitimate son of Sir Humphrey Stafford of Southwick (Wiltshire). Significantly, many of the bishops on his ‘selective’ list followed careers similar to his own, for example, serving as Chancellor to the King of England. More pertinently, she also detects an emphasis on bishops who were members of noble families; a concern close to Stafford’s heart, as witnessed by the words ‘archiepi cantuar’ formerly visible in the windows of the chantry chapel he created for his mother at the parish church of St Nicholas, North Bradley, Wiltshire.
The discovery of this commission provides evidence of the close involvement of patrons in the planning of glazing schemes, adds to our knowledge of how episcopal halls were decorated in the late middle ages and throws extra light on episcopal artistic patronage.
K. Heard. ‘A Glazing Scheme for Archbishop John Stafford, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, October 2009, 60/4, pp. 673–689.
The article is also available online.
Kate Heard is also the author of Light in the East, a guide to the stained glass windows of 33 churches in East Anglia, published by the Stained Glass Museum in Ely.
The excellent Norfolk Stained Glass website has been significantly upgraded. Improvements include: easier navigation, with churches in Norwich and the wider county being listed separately; useful maps and lists of where to see early stained glass in the county; and, perhaps most excitingly, the growing use of zoomify technology which enables viewers to explore stained glass windows in unprecedented detail.
The site is managed by heritage communication specialist Michael Holmes, responsible for the design and operation of the system, his wife Frances, who writes the informative text that accompanies each entry, and Mike Dixon, who provides the photographs which make the site so valuable.
At present the website contains entries for around forty churches in rural Norfolk and twenty in the regional capital of Norwich, but the team behind the site have plans to add many more locations in coming years – don’t miss it!
As readers of Vidimus 34 will recall, Andrew Renton recently identified evidence for the medieval glazing of a number of pre-Reformation Welsh monastic sites.
A new website on Welsh medieval monasteries and nunneries has been now been launched by the University of Wales, Lampeter. The Monastic Wales website, a work in progress, already contains detailed information on more than 50 monastic sites. For each site, the monastic order, dedications, affiliations, and important associated people are detailed, along with a bibliography, images, links to other websites of relevance and information about ownership and arrangements for public access.
The website has been developed as part of the Monastic Wales Project, a collaboration between Professor Janet Burton of the Research Institute of Archaeology, History and Anthropology at the University of Wales, Lampeter and Dr Karen Stöber of the Department of History and Welsh History at Aberystwyth University.
The Monastic Wales Project has been funded by the Research Infrastructure Fund at the University of Wales, Lampeter and the Marc Fitch Fund. The website was designed by Martin Crampin of the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, the database developed by Nigel Callaghan of Technoleg Taliesin Cyf. and research undertaken by Dr Julie Kerr, University of St Andrews.
There is still time to visit two excellent exhibitions in Germany featuring medieval stained glass before they close in January.
Zwischen Himmel und Erde – Klöster und Pflegehöfe in Esslingen (Between Heaven and Earth – Monasteries and Pfleghöfe in Esslingen) documents monastic life and art in this southern German city before and during the Reformation together with a fascinating exploration of surviving secular monastic properties. It is accompanied by a fine catalogue with 36 essays and well-chosen illustrations edited by Kirsten Fast and Joachim Halbekann with the assistance of Iris Holzwart-Schäfer and Martin Knauer. The German-text only catalogue is published by Michael Imhof, Petersberg 2009, hardback, 376 pages, about 180 illustrations, price 20 €, ISBN 978-3-86568-483-7. [Fig. 1]
For details of the exhibition see the Esslingen Museum website.
Zwischen Himmel und Hölle: Kunst des Mittelalters von der Gotik bis Baldung Grien is an exhibition of medieval treasures from Freiburg at the Bulcheris Art Club in Hamburg. It includes stunning stained glass and other objects. The exhibition is accompanied by a beautifully produced catalogue edited by Michael Philipp with additional contributions from Bodo Brinkmann, Wolfgang Christian Schneider and Tilmann von Stockhausen. Published by Hermer Verlag München, the German-text only hardback catalogue has 256 pages and numerous illustrations. Copies are available via Amazon at €39.90. [Fig. 2]
For details of the exhibition see the Bulcheris Art Club website.
This month’s puzzle comes from a private collection in Flanders. It shows a bearded man on the right with his hands clasped and eyes closed as if in prayer, athough he is not kneeling. He sits in a dilapidated building. A nearby column is broken. In the upper left of the painting a young women kneels in prayer. A richly-loaded buffet with a ewer and plate on the upper shelves can be seen behind her. Between the two figures, God appears in a cloud and appears to direct a flying angel who points to the man.
A shield with initials can also be seen. They seem to include a ‘w’,‘t’ and ‘b’. It has not been possible to identify the monogram.
The decorative frame of blue glass dates from the nineteenth century.
The Dutch stained glass historian, Dr Kees Berserik, has dated the roundel to c.1530, probably from the southern Low Countries. Roundels of this period depict 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. [Fig 1]
The solution to this month’s puzzle is contributed by Dr Paul Taylor of the Warburg Institute in London and Dr Erwin Pokomy of Vienna University. Their 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.
Last month we published a roundel with a highly unusual subject and asked readers for thoughts about its theology and sources. [Fig. 1]
It showed a man being pulled out of globe by an angel while a demon held his feet. Our experts called it ‘By the Grace of God, a Guardian Angel wrests the soul of a man from the world and the devil’.
Vidimus readers rose to the challenge, many connecting the image to the work of the Dutch artist, Hieronymous Bosch (c.1460–1516). Thank you to all those who emailed us with comments; a selection is included here.
Jim Bugslag (CVMA Canada)
What seems surprising to me about your mystery roundel is its early date. During the 17th century, the crossed orb became fairly well established as a visual symbol of ‘the world’ in the negative sense in which it is being used here. Images of St Francis, for example, often show him with a crossed orb at his feet, in order to show his victory over, or distain for, the world. There is also an unidentified image illustrated in P. Hildebrand, Les Capucins en Belgique et au Nord de la France , Antwerp, 1957, p. 91, depicting Philippe d’Arenberg between the World and the Cloister, which shows him standing between two figures, each with a string attached to him and each attempting to pull him in their direction: to the left a well dressed woman holding up a crossed orb (Lady World?); to the right, a Capucin monk, with his foot firmly planted on a crossed orb. Given these later connections with Franciscan and Capucin saints, I wonder whether this earlier iconography might not be Franciscan, as well. So early in the sixteenth century, however, the crossed globe was still most commonly used in a highly positive sense, as in images of Christ as the Salvator Mundi, and it also had a positive political symbolism, as well (cf. Meryl Bailey, ‘Salvatrix Mundi: Representing Queen Elizabeth as a Christ Type’, Studies in Iconography, 29, 2008, 176ff). There is, however, a parodic misericord, I believe, from the early sixteenth century in the Church of Sainte-Anne de Gassicourt at Mantes la Jolie in the Ile-de-France which shows mice eating through a crossed orb, as if it were a piece of cheese. This last recalls the hollowness of the crossed orb in this roundel, although it is also slightly reminiscent, in this respect, of Hieronymus Bosch, who also created other parodies of the Ars Moriendi theme, which this might be counted as.
Upon seeing this roundel the first thing I thought of was Bosch, and upon investigating this idea I found it was the persistent use of spheres in his Garden of Earthly Delights that made me think that way. They similarly convey the same meaning of a sinful world enclosing a human being, and some have similar circular holes in their surface (although here the holes seem to let sin in rather than souls out). Now of course this is by no means a match to your design of a man being tugged by an angel and a devil but I thought it was an interesting demonstration of the symbolism of the orb (albeit not with a crucifix here) as a sinful, imprisoning world in late medieval northern Europe. I look forward to see if there is a conclusive match found by next month rather than my rather speculative one! [Fig. 2]
I have seen nothing like this before. However, looking at it theologically and semiologically the first thing that came to mind was ‘Redemption through the Cross‘. This was a particularly Reformist phrase. In 1517 Martin Luther had posted his ‘Theses’ on the church at Wittenburg and the reformation was underway. One of the many arguments against established Catholicism was that access to heaven could be purchased via indulgences, or even good works. A date of, say 1530, for this roundel, fits the timing perfectly. It was the Reformation which refocused the concept of redemption onto faith in Jesus. Consequently, the way to redemption was no longer mooted to be via good works or indulgences, but through the Cross of Christ. This is how the ‘globus cruciger‘ could come into it. Christ has dominance over the world of evil, and through that power an individual can be redeemed through faith. That my interpretation may seem somewhat literal, merely reflects the fact, perhaps? It was around this time that the use of the rebus really came into its own, normally a literal representation of a name. This is a literal representation of a theological belief.
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 the Ashgate 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 – time is running out!
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 thirteenth-century stained glass from Goslar. For more information see the Kulturhistorisches Museum website. For more information see the 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 31 December : 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 and 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 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 the 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 see the exhibition website.
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.
Until 26 February 2010: Sleutel tot licht (Key to Light), an exhibition of twenty-five Dutch, late medieval Books of Hours at the J.R.Ritman Library, Amsterdam. For more information see the Ritman Library website. The exhibition is accompanied by a Dutch text only catalogue, Helen C. Wüstefeld and Anne S. Korteweg, Sleutel tot licht. Getijdenboeken in de Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica
Until 3 July 2010: Albrecht Durer: Virtuoso Printmaker, an exhibition of 45 prints from the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
From 2 March – 13 June: The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is a once-in-a-lifetime display of the 172 sumptuous illuminations from the medieval prayer book, one of the Museum’s great treasures, while it is temporarily unbound for conservation (and the preparation of a facsimile edition).
From 2 March – May 23: The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, features 40 alabaster mourning figures from the tomb of John the Fearless (1371–1419), on loan from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon while the museum undergoes renovation. The exhibition, organised by the Dallas Museum of Art and the Dijon museum, travels to seven other US museums.
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