- British CVMA Essex Update
- Jean Chastellain Window for Sale in New York
- Medieval Rood Screens in East Anglia
- British Museum Buys Medieval Silver Chalice
- News from the Stained Glass Museum, Ely
- Heritage Skills Bursaries
British CVMA Essex Update
Christopher Parkinson reports on his project to photograph all the stained glass of Essex for the British CVMA. The project was inspired by Kerry Ayre, author of Medieval English Figurative Roundels (CVMA (GB), Summary Catalogue 6, Oxford, 2002), who was working on the county survey of Essex when she sadly passed away. See Vidimus 31 for an appreciation.
During Christmas 1912, Frederick Sydney Eden – whose life and work featured in Vidimus 74 – wrote in the preface of his book Ancient Stained and Painted Glass: ‘Several of the illustrations are taken from the county of Essex, which is generally supposed to be below average in remains of old painted glass, and I may add that it would not be difficult to illustrate all the styles in painted glass by fine specimens from Essex alone.’ I am sure Kerry Ayre too would have echoed Eden’s observation as she undertook her survey of the extant medieval glass in Essex.
It was at the start of 2011 that I commenced the task of making a photographic record of stained glass in Essex, not restricting myself to pre-1550 glass, but recording all stained-glass windows made right up to the present. It was intended from the start that these images would be uploaded to the CVMA Picture Archive, which until recently was somewhat short of images relating to Essex.
Now approximately 1,500 images from 90 churches and other buildings in Essex have been uploaded to the website. Work to associate metadata with these images is proceeding apace, and as Vidimus went to press, about half of the newly uploaded images are available for public viewing. The rest will be available shortly, and Vidimus readers will be kept up to date with progress.
When Kerry Ayre was working on her survey, she took the four Essex volumes of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (RCHM) survey as her starting point. These volumes are based on surveys carried out in the early decades of the 20th century and identified approximately 200 locations, parish churches in the main, where old stained glass could be found. I have made visits to half of these buildings and hope to visit the remaining locations during 2014. At several of the churches visited, the glass mentioned in the relevant RCHM volume has been reset in different windows and in one case, a different church! Unfortunately, several churches appear to have lost their glass. Since I am endeavouring to record glass from all periods, after visiting the locations identified in the RCHM volumes, I am planning to visit all buildings in Essex that may contain stained glass; with luck, this will throw up any omissions from the RCHM volumes. With some 600 churches in the Anglican diocese of Chelmsford alone, without counting churches of other denominations, this could take some time! The current batch of images has CVMA inv. nos. in the range 025038–026661, and a browse by number or by site will give examples of some of the ‘fine specimens’ referred to by Eden.
• 12th-century French glass at St Mary and All Saints, Rivenhall (featured in Vidimus 70) and the almost complete Tree of Jesse of c.1450 at St Margaret, Margaretting
• substantial remains of 15th- and early 16th-century glass at Thaxted, St John the Baptist, and Clavering, St Mary and St Clement
• a fine set of roundels of 16th-century and later date at East Mersea, St Edmund King and Martyr
• a panel, probably 17th-century Flemish or Netherlandish, of St Peter with flies painted next to the saint’s face, at Belchamp Walter, St Mary
• the arms of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk, at the Siege House, Colchester. These arms were partly the cause of his being imprisoned in the Tower on charges of high treason. He had put a label argent in the first quarter instead of the second or subsequent quarter. The death of Henry VIII a few days before his execution probably saved his life.
• the east window at Messing, All Saints, attributed to Abraham Van Linge, of c.1640
• four panels of early Morris glass at Frinton, St Mary the Virgin, of c.1862
This is a small selection of what is currently available. More will become available in the next few weeks and months. While Essex may not be as rich in glass as its East Anglian neighbours, it certainly does not lack in quality.
Jean Chastellain Window for Sale in New York
Roger Rosewell reports.
A large three-section panel of 16th-century stained glass depicting the Adoration of the Magi by the famous French painter Jean Chastellain and his workshop is among the highlights of a selling exhibition of medieval art which opens in New York on 22 January. Wonders of the Medieval World will also feature sculpture, paintings, metalwork and illuminated manuscripts, and take place at the galleries of Richard L. Feigen & Co., 34 East 69th Street, New York, NY 10021. The exhibition will run until Monday 17 March [Fig. 1].
The glass belongs to the London dealer Sam Fogg, and shows the Virgin Mary sitting in three-quarter profile at the lower right of the scene with the Christ Child wriggling from her hands as he stands atop her lap. To their left, Melchior presents a casket of gold coins to Christ, who plays with them [Fig. 2]. Standing behind this foreground group are (from left to right) Caspar, Balthazar and Joseph, with Balthazar being the tallest. Caspar leans slightly in towards the foreground scene from the left-hand edge, extending a gold chalice in his right hand. To his right, Balthazar stands face-on in a bright white turban with gold thread detailing, a large red toga, and a green and gold sleeved purplish tunic. A large and ornately worked chalice is in his left hand, and with his right he gestures towards it. On the far right, Joseph stands in a simple brown cloak with a blue hood, a stick in his left hand, and his hat in his right [Fig. 3].
Recent research by Dr Bodo Brinkmann has linked the design of the panels to Noël Bellemare (documented 1512–46), a distinguished painter, illuminator and designer of stained glass, who in 1532 is documented as the designer of the rose window in the south transept of Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois, Paris. The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has a book of hours associated with him.
The panels echo a recently discovered painting by Bellemare in the collection of the Kunstmuseum, Basel, of the Adoration of the Magi before a ruinous building, with further scenes to left and right in the background, which features a grouping of the Virgin and Child with kneeling Melchior very similar to that seen in the Chastellain panels. The painting also shows Balthazar with his hand over a chalice in the same gesture adopted by Caspar in the glass, as well as the figure of Joseph wearing a two-tone coat, with his hat held at the level of his chest.
The stylistic characteristics of the scene, combined with its impressive technical features, offers a strong case for the attribution of the panels to the French master glazier Jean Chastellain (fl. c.1525–1541/2), the foremost Parisian glass-painter at work during the reign of King François I (1515–1547) and a known associate of Bellemare. Although Chastellain’s name does not appear until 1528 in the royal accounts, a great deal of glass produced before this date has been firmly attributed to him. A full summary of his œuvre is given in Michel Leproux’s La peinture à Paris sous le règne de François 1er (Presses universitaires de Paris-Sorbonne, 2001, pp. 172–73). The postures and gestures of the characters, together with their costumes with intricate ornaments, allow comparisons with several other extant windows by Chastellain in Paris, including the Judgment of Solomon at Saint-Gervais, and the Doubting Thomas at Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois.
Among the technical features mentioned is the technique employed for burnishing the eyes of Balthazar’s face. The figure’s head and neck are painted on a single piece of brown-tinted flashed glass, the flash removed to reveal the whites of the magus’s eyes [Fig. 4].
The distinguished stained-glass historian Dr Françoise Perrot has studied the glass and written the exhibition notes. The glass was almost certainly made for the church of the Grand Priory of the Temple in Paris, which was destroyed in 1796. For English readers unable to visit New York, a visit to Southwell Minster (Nottinghamshire) is strongly recommended, as four windows by Chastellain and from Grand Priory can be seen in the choir. According to the church guide, the windows were presented to the minster in 1818 by Henry Gally Knight (1786–1846), a former sheriff of Nottinghamshire (1814–15), who had found them in a pawn shop in Paris. They show scenes from the life of Christ: the Baptism of Christ, the Raising of Lazarus, the Entry into Jerusalem, and the Mockery of Jesus. The pioneering stained-glass author Charles Winston thought the first of these windows was weak but judged the other three ‘as effective and good, particularly the second, in which, by a skilful management of the background, a striking effect of distance and aerial perspective is produced. The third, as a composition of colour, is perhaps the best. These windows, though less powerful, are more brilliant than Flemish glass-paintings of the same period. As pictures, they go far to establish the claim of glass-painting to be considered one of the fine arts.’
Images of the Southwell panels are available in the CVMA (GB) Picture Archive, and parts of another window from the same series depicting the Ecce Homo scene can be seen in the Lord Mayor’s Chapel in Bristol.
Vidimus is grateful to Sam Fogg for his help with this article. The photographs are © Sam Fogg. We also acknowledge the work of Dr Françoise Perrot, who has prepared extensive notes on the glass, and the discoveries of Dr Bodo Brinkmann, who researched the relationship between the Chastellain panels and the Bellemare painting in the Kunstmuseum, Basel.
Medieval Rood Screens in East Anglia
A pilot project organized by the Church of England and the Hamilton Kerr Institute (University of Cambridge) to create a conservation plan for the 400 medieval painted rood screens in East Anglia has received £40,000 from the Headley Trust.
The screens were built between the 14th and 16th centuries, and one of their functions was to demarcate the chancel, the responsibility of the rector, from the nave, which was the responsibility of the parishioners. They were often painted with biblical and historical figures such as saints, apostles and kings. Researchers have grouped them into two different stylistic types: those painted by local craftsmen following long-established iconographic and stylistic traditions, and those painted under the influence of, or by, foreign painters, including those employing designs from German print sources.
British CVMA author David King has pointed to similarities between some of these paintings and stained-glass windows of the same period, suggesting either cross-media influences or even multi-craft workshops. One of the most important of the first stylistic type is the screen at the parish church of St Helen at Ranworth, which includes a splendid figure of St Michael and the dragon [Fig. 1]. Some of the facial details of this figure, such as curly hair, high eyebrows, dimpled chin and heavy eyelids, can also be found in the fragmentary figure of an angel now in the east window of the parish church of St Peter and St Paul at East Harling (I 3a) [Fig. 2].
D. King, ‘A Multi-Media Workshop in Late Medieval Norwich – a New Look at William Heyward’, in Claire de Ruyt, Isabelle Lecocq, Michel Lefftz and Mathieu Piavaux (eds), Lumières, formes et couleurs: Mélanges en hommage à Yvette Vanden Bemden, Namur, 2008, pp. 193–201.
Images of the glass at East Harling can be seen in the CVMA (GB) Picture Archive.
Article about a recent grant to Ranworth Church.
Article about research into East Anglian rood screens.
PhD thesis about medieval rood screens in Devon.
British Museum Buys Medieval Silver Chalice
The Lacock Cup, an exceptional medieval silver chalice, has been acquired by the British Museum for £1.3m. The cup is unmarked, but has been dated by its style to around 1429 and was probably produced in London. The cup began life as a status symbol for a nobleman’s table, but became a became a chalice when it was presented 400 years ago to St Cyriac’s church in the Wiltshire village of Lacock. It has survived the Reformation and the English Civil War and is of international importance on account of its rarity.
A similar cup is depicted the east window at the church of St Peter and St Paul in East Harling, Norfolk, in a scene depicting the wedding at Cana [Fig. 1]. Contemporary images show such precious objects among the gifts brought by the magi to the stable in Bethlehem. The Lacock Cup was beaten by hand from three sheets of silver, and three bands of ornate pierced decoration cover the welds that join the bowl and the two sections of the trumpet-shaped foot. The gilding on the ornamental bands and the lip and foot of the cup is original [Fig. 2].
Too valuable to insure, display or store in the grade I listed church of St Cyriac, the cup was loaned to the British Museum in 1963. For a time, it was regularly couriered back to Wiltshire for Christmas and Easter, but this was ultimately deemed too risky, and the cup is now on display at the museum. The church decided to sell the cup to raise funds for repair and restoration work to the building, but the decision was not unanimous; members of the congregation believed the cup was a vital part of the village’s heritage and opposed the sale. However, permission was sought from an ecclesiastical consistory court to sell the cup, and money to purchase it was raised with grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund charity, and friends and patrons. The British Museum is sharing the acquisition with the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. Identical copies of the cup will be produced for the Wiltshire Museum and St Cyriac’s Church, which will once again have a magnificent silver goblet for communion services.
The Lacock Cup is on public display in the Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery of Medieval Europe 1050–1500, Room 40.
News from the Stained Glass Museum, Ely
The Geoffrey Clarke Appeal
After launching an appeal in May 2013, the Stained Glass Museum has successfully raised £15,000 to purchase four unique modern stained-glass panels from the studio of Geoffrey Clarke, RA (b.1924).
The four panels, acquired by the Stained Glass Museum in January 2014, were made in the 1940s and 1950s as exhibition or experimental pieces. They demonstrate how Clarke combined stained glass, mosaic and sculptural techniques to produce unique works. St Anthony, St Sebastian and Priest (all made in 1949) are all modern abstract compositions inspired by religious devotion and torment. The fourth piece, Fragment (1956–59), pictured here, is an innovative three-dimensional panel that reveals Clarke’s interest in abstract sculptural forms.
Dr Jasmine Allen, curator of the museum, announced: ‘This is a major and exciting acquisition for the Stained Glass Museum, which recognizes the role that stained glass played in the development of British modernism. But the fundraising continues! Please help us to raise an additional £5,000 to fund the specialist conservation and display of these incredible artworks.’
Help get these panels on display!
Now that these artworks have been purchased, the Stained Glass Museum needs to raise a further £5,000 to fund conservation work and place the panels on display in the main gallery at the museum. You can donate to the appeal, and find out more, via the website.
The Stained Glass Museum is grateful to many individual donors and charitable bodies who contributed towards the purchase of these panels. These included The V&A Purchase Grant Fund, The Art Fund, The Headley Trust, The Matthew Wrightson Charitable Trust, and The Decorative Arts Society.
For more information, please contact Dr Jasmine Allen on 01353 660347 or curator [at] stainedglassmuseum [dot] com
Hot Glass! London Day Trip
Wednesday 26 February 2014, 10.30 – 4pm
Visit to the London Glassblowing Studio and the Victoria & Albert Museum
Explore one of Europe’s leading glass-making studios and the stained-glass collection in the world’s first public museum devoted to the decorative arts. At the London Glassblowing Studio, established by Peter Layton in 1976, participants will gain a unique insight into the magical transformation of hot molten glass into unique free-blown artworks. The group will then travel by tube to the V&A Museum in South Kensington to meet Assistant Curator of Glass and Ceramics, Terry Bloxham, and be guided round the museum’s collection of stained glass, including the recently conserved and reinstalled William Bell Scott windows designed and made for the museum building in 1867–69.
There is a small cost for this day trip, but all proceeds will go to the following charities: Crisis, the V&A, and the Stained Glass Museum. Tickets are £15 per person (though this does not include the costs of lunch or travel). To book a place or find out more, email curator [at] stainedglassmuseum [dot] com, or phone 01353 660347.
SGM Study Weekend
Tickets are still available for the Stained Glass Museum’s 2014 Study Weekend, which will be held on Thursday 24 – Sunday 27 April 2014. The weekend will take place in the south-west, where the group will be based in Salisbury visiting glass in Wiltshire, and the neighbouring counties of Hampshire and Gloucestershire.
Visits will include a number of sites with stained glass from the early medieval period to the 20th century. Highlights include the magnificent 12th- and 13th-century French stained glass at Wilton; 14th-century glass at Edington Priory; the magnificent 17th-century glass by Abraham van Linge at Lydiard Tregoze; and 19th- and 20th-century glass at Salisbury Cathedral. The group will also visit the Salisbury Cathedral Stained Glass Studio and enjoy a three-course dinner in the cathedral’s enchanting chapter house. The main guide will be Dr David O’Connor, a member of the British CVMA committee, who has published widely on medieval and Victorian stained glass.
Costs: residential £400 per person (three nights half board); non-residential £200 per person (including three evening meals); non-residential £100 per person (visits only). All prices include travel, audio headset, and a conference pack with site notes.
Accommodation: the Grasmere House Hotel, Salisbury, a fine Victorian house surrounded by mature gardens. Situated on the banks of the Rivers Avon and Nadder, the hotel is only a few minutes’ walk from the city centre and offers superb cathedral views.
Reservations: to reserve a place on the study weekend, please email curator [at] stainedglassmuseum [dot] com, or telephone 01353 660347. A deposit of £150 per person is required by 1 February 2014, and full payment should be received by 1 April 2014. Please make cheques payable to ‘The Stained Glass Museum’.
Heritage Skills Bursaries
Lincolnshire County Council and Lincoln Cathedral have been granted extra funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and are able to offer six bursaries in heritage brickwork, glazing, stonemasonry, joinery, and leadwork (two bursaries). Training will be at Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln College. These are full-time placements lasting eighteen months.
Applicants need a degree of competency to level 2 in construction, art and design, or engineering, through achieving qualifications or practical experience. Examples of level 2 equivalence include 5 GCSEs A*-C, a level 2 new diploma in Construction and the Built Environment, Creative & Media or Engineering, or an NVQ Level 2. Applications from those seeking to change career - including those who have caring responsibilities – are welcomed.
Applicants must be over the age of 18 and eligible to work and study in the UK, successfully complete an occupational health assessment, and be confident of their ability to work outside and at height on scaffolded sites.
An application pack is available from: amanda [dot] davey [at] lincolnshire [dot] gov [dot] uk, 01522 550613, or Amanda Davey, Economy & Culture, Lincolnshire County Offices,13 The Avenue, Lincoln LN1 1PA.
The closing date for applications: 17 February 2014, and interviews will be held the week commencing 24 March 2014.