- Happy Christmas!
- 85th Anniversary of the First Exhibition of Stained-Glass Photography
- New Light on Medieval Stained Glass
- Orb of Glass
- Places of Worship in the British Isles, 1350–1550
- Mayer Windows Found
- Christmas Gift Ideas
Vidimus would like to wish all its readers a happy Christmas and very best wishes for the new year. Do stay in touch and send us your news and details of any exhibitions or lectures you think should be brought to wider attention in 2013.
85th Anniversary of the First Exhibition of Stained-Glass Photography
This month marks the eighty-fifth anniversary of the first photographic exhibition in England devoted to stained glass [Fig. 1]. It was held between 3rd and 27th December 1927 at the then offices of the Royal Photographic Society, in Russell Square, London, and was a landmark in the historiography of stained glass in Great Britain.
The exhibition was the work of a single man, Sydney Alfred Pitcher (1884–1950), perhaps the most prodigious, knowledgeable and innovative photographer of stained glass in the twentieth century. The 1927 exhibition featured 72 works and was hailed by the important art critic Herbert Read as a ‘triumph of photographic art’.
Apart from recording stained glass, Pitcher was also the author of the pioneering survey Ancient Stained Glass of Gloucestershire Churches, which is now available online here. Published in 1925 in the Journal of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, the survey listed all the surviving medieval glass in the county, together with extensive references to lost glass, compiled after trawling through several antiquarian descriptions of Gloucestershire churches made in the eighteenth century. A review of the article by the stained glass historian John Alder Knowles called it ‘a model to all future cataloguers and writers how these things should be done’. Another mused: ‘If a similar work were carried out for all the English counties we should be in possession of an archaeological “corpus” of permanent value and wide interest’, anticipating the publication by the first British CVMA volume by over forty years. Based on personal visits made by Pitcher between 1915 and 1925 to every church in the county, the survey listed 115 sites with extant medieval glass, as well as a further 23 sites recorded before 1875 as having glass that had subsequently disappeared.
Apart from well-known places such as Gloucester Cathedral, Tewkesbury Abbey, and Fairford Church, the survey introduced readers to such lesser-known treasures as the parish churches of Arlingham, Bagendon, Bledington, Buckland, Cirencester, Deerhurst, Eastington, Edgeworth, Hailes, North Cerney, Stanton and Temple Guiting, to name but a few. Ninety years later it remains the most comprehensive survey of medieval glass in the county, and although some observations, such as the suggestion that the fifteenth-century glass at Bledington was painted by the king’s glazier, John Prudde (d.1460/61), have proved unfounded, the scale of Pitcher’s achievement cannot be overstated.
The 1927 exhibition included images from some of the most famous sites in England: Eaton Bishop, Herefordshire (4); Doddiscombsleigh, Devon (3); St Neot, Cornwall (9); Great Malvern, Worcestershire (11); King’s College, Cambridge (4); Fairford, Gloucestershire (7); and All Saints, North Street, York (3). Also featured were images from the Bodleian Library, Oxford (3); Little Malvern Priory, Worcestershire (1); the Beauchamp Chapel at St Mary’s, Warwick (2); St Mary’s Hall, Coventry, Warwickshire (1); Wells Cathedral, Somerset (1); Tewkesbury Abbey, Gloucestershire (1); Coventry Cathedral (1); the Old Mayor’s Parlour, Leicester (1); Leicester Museum (3); Exeter Cathedral, Devon (1); Bristol Cathedral (1); and Gloucester Cathedral (1). Lesser-known examples came from Cirencester, Gloucestershire; Credenhill, Herefordshire; Edgeworth, Gloucestershire; Westwood, Wiltshire (2, Fig. 2); Oddingley, Worcestershire; Crudwell, Wiltshire; Winscombe, Somerset (2); Holy Trinity, York; St John’s, North Street, York; Fladbury, Worcestershire; Buckland, Gloucestershire (Fig. 3); and Notgrove, Gloucestershire.
Vidimus is grateful to Roger Rosewell for the information about the 1927 exhibition. For the past two years he has been researching the life and work of Sydney Pitcher for a forthcoming study and possible exhibition.
New Light on Medieval Stained Glass
Vidimus readers are invited to the inaugural lecture by Professor Ian Freestone at University College London on 12 March 2013 [Fig. 1].
Together with colleagues based in York and Cardiff, Professor Freestone has recently completed a major programme of scientific analysis of medieval stained glass. The project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, brought together archaeological scientists, art historians and conservators in an attempt to ensure that the contexts of the glass analyzed were fully understood. The result is a body of information that is significantly more comprehensive than has previously been possible. It is yielding new insights into glazing practices, the sources of raw materials, and the technologies of glass production and colouration. This important lecture will be held on Tuesday 12 March 2013 at 6.30 p.m., in the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, Wilkins Building, University College London.
Admission is free but places must be booked on line here.
Ian Freestone worked for twenty-five years in the laboratories of the British Museum, researching the material science of artefacts from the Neolithic period through to early modern times. He moved to Cardiff University as a professorial research fellow in 2004, and on to UCL as Professor of Archaeological Materials and Technologies in 2011. His current research focuses on glass industries from the Roman period through to the Renaissance. He is a recipient of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Pomerance Medal.
Orb of Glass
A giant metallic orb displaying five newly-conserved glass panels from the East Window of York Minster has been unveiled to visitors [Fig. 1].
The orb, which is 33ft (10m) wide and 10ft (3m) tall, forms a new gallery reflecting the restoration of the minster’s Great East Window. Canon Glyn Webster, acting dean of York Minster, said people would be able to see the window’s ‘rich colour and artistry’ for the first time. At a height of 78ft (24m), the Great East Window is arguably Great Britain’s largest medieval stained-glass window. It has been removed as part of a five-year conservation project, which is supported by a £10m Heritage Lottery Fund grant. The 311 individual panels from the window reveal a Christian history of the world, as told in the Bible, from Creation to the Last Judgement.
Sarah Brown, director of the York Glaziers Trust, which carried out the restoration of the five panels displayed in the orb, reminds us that the minster is a ‘great treasure house of stained glass’, and that the aim of the orb was to introduce visitors to the masterpiece that is the Great East Window. ‘People will see this window and appreciate that all the windows in the minster have stories to tell and they deserve our attention and appreciation.’ The orb will remain at York Minster until 2015. The restoration of the Great East Window is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016.
Places of Worship in the British Isles, 1350–1550
An interesting weekend course on ‘Places of Worship in the British Isles, 1350-1550’ will be held in Oxford between Friday 4 and Sunday 6 January 2013.
The late middle ages saw the flowering of a distinctive religious culture expressed in architecture and the other arts, including stained glass. The weekend will explore the religious life of the period through the buildings – monasteries, cathedrals, parish churches – erected or modified to accommodate both traditional and new forms of liturgy and devotion, with a particular emphasis upon their functional requirements.
Speakers include CVMA (GB) committee members Professor Richard Marks and Sarah Brown. Professor Marks will speak on ‘The Imagery of the Late Medieval Parish Church: Continuity and Change’, while Sarah Brown, lecturer in the history of art at the University of York and director of the York Glaziers Trust, will speak about ‘“Walls like unto clear glass”: Stained Glass and Monumental Narrative in the Late Medieval English Church”. Further details are available here.
Mayer Windows Found
Three windows by Mayer & Co. of Munich, previously thought lost, have been found at Bolligen, near Berne in Switzerland.
The glass was made for the three choir windows of the protestant church at Bolligen. They are not dated, but were probably executed around 1900; they are however signed ‘Mayer’sche kgl. Hofkunstanstalt München’. The central window shows the Crucifixion, and the left-hand one Christ and the little children (Matthew XIX, 14: ‘But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’); the right-hand window shows a scene from after the Resurrection, where two apostles recognize that the man with them at Emmaus is in fact Christ (Luke XXIV, 13–32; Mark XVI, 12–13). In 1963, the church received three new choir windows (abstract compositions by the Bernese glass-painter Max von Mühlenen). The Mayer windows were removed at this time and deposited in the loft of the parsonage in Bolligen. During the recent renovation of the parsonage (dated 1581) the windows were rediscovered.
They are well preserved, and each had been stored in a wooden chest in five pieces. The parish is currently trying to raise the money to have the windows reinstalled in the parish house.
Christmas Gift Ideas
Short of ideas for Christmas presents? Two recently published books by Vidimus’s own news editor, Roger Rosewell, might fit the bill perfectly.
Stained Glass is a widely praised and beautifully illustrated eighty-eight page history of stained glass in England from before the Norman Conquest to 2000; it costs £7.99. The Medieval Monastery is a readable and equally well illustrated introduction to the different monastic orders, the architecture and art of monasteries, and the daily life of monks and nuns. It has 80 pages and around the same number of coloured photos; it costs £6.99.
Both books are published by Shire in a handy A5 format, and include further reading lists and gazetteers of where to see stained glass or monastic remains. Copies are available from Amazon. For signed copies, visit Roger Rosewell’s website, or email him here.