News

New Type of Glass Used in York Minster Restoration

Fig. 1. Nick Teed holds a trial panel of the Restauro UV©.

Fig. 1. Nick Teed holds a trial panel of the Restauro UV©.

A groundbreaking new ultraviolet-resistant glass will be fitted as part of the external protective glazing for the Great East Window of York Minister when it is reinstated in 2016.

This will have a huge visual improvement on the final scheme, as although traditional protective-glazing systems have been very successful in combatting the damaging effects of condensation and other threats, they have been unable to stop ultraviolet (UV) radiation discolouring the epoxy resin often used in the conservation of stained glass and turning it yellow after prolonged exposure.

Earlier forms of UV-resistant glass relied on laminations of glass and a UV-resistant foil, but in the new Restauro UV© glass being used at York Minster the UV resistance is an integral part of the glass itself. The product has been developed by Glasshuette Lamberts of Germany, a world-leading producer of mouth blown antique glass.

The Great East window of York Minster is one of the great masterpieces of fifteenth-century glazing in Europe. Painted between 1405 and 1408 it is the size of a tennis court and the largest single expanse of medieval glass in Britain. Work to conserve and restore the Great East Window is part of the York Minster Revealed project, which is due for completion in 2016. ‘It is reassuring to know,’ said Sarah Brown, Director of the York Glaziers Trust, ‘that we are now able to offer total environmental protection for all aspects of the conserved window.’

Visitors to York Minster can learn more about the work to conserve the Great East Window, including seeing up-close completed panels, in the Orb – a contemporary metallic dome located in the cathedral’s east end.


New Study on Nuremburg Glass Published

 

Fig. 1. Scene from the life of St Benedict designed by Dürer.

Fig. 1. Scene from the life of St Benedict designed by Dürer.

The German CVMA has just published a ravishing new volume (X, 2 in its series), Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalereien in Nürnberg, Sebalder Stadtseite (‘The Medieval Stained Glass of Nuremberg, St Sebald Side’). The historic city of Nuremberg is extremely rich in stained glass, and for the purposes of this study the survey has been divided into two sections identified by their principal churches – the churches of St Sebald (named after Sebaldus, an eighth-century hermit and missionary, later patron saint of Nuremberg) and St Lawrence. Work has been undertaken on both volumes simultaneously, but this is the first of the two to appear; the second volume will appear in 2016.

Fig. 2. Panel of the same scene made for the Benedictine monastery of St Egidien.

Fig. 2. Panel of the same scene made for the Benedictine monastery of St Egidien.

In addition to cataloguing the extraordinary windows of St Sebald and the Frauenkirche (church of Our Lady), the volume also covers the extant and lost glass of the city’s former Augustinian, Benedictine and Dominican monasteries, as well as of the Holy Ghost Hospital, the Holy Trinity Chapel (founded by a rich merchant, Matthias Landau), and some secular buildings – a total of 600 panels associated with 9 locations. Although the losses include a complete fourteenth-century scheme at the Dominican church, which lasted until the eighteenth century, important survivals still exist. Arguably the most important of these are panels from the Benedictine monastic church of St Egidien, where the Nuremberg artist Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) designed scenes for a forty-panel cycle of the life of St Benedict (installed in the cloister in 1501) and a smaller scheme of fifteen panels (installed in the monastic refectory around the same time) [Figs 1–2].

The glazing described in this book is of paramount importance for the history of stained glass in the late Middle Ages. Nuremberg, a free and imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire, was home to an unparalleled number of stained glass artists whose work is found not just in the Nuremberg’s sacred buildings, but also across Franconia and as far as Thuringia, Swabia and Old Bavaria.

A Highlight: the Church of St Sebald

Fig. 3. St Sebald, Crucifixion, before 1380.

Fig. 3. St Sebald, Crucifixion, before 1380.

The first glazing campaign of the choir at St Sebald’s was finished by 1380 and showed Christological narratives, Genesis scenes, typological themes, and images of saints. Parts of these windows can still be seen, and one of the many achievements of this book is that it documents the eastern glazing of the choir of the church for the first time. Towards the end of the fifteenth century, it seems that some of this glass was in poor condition. As a result, four of the principal windows of the east choir were removed by the descendants of the original donors, and new glass inserted. The donors were the Bishop of Bamberg; the emperor, Maximilian I (of Habsburg); and two wealthy nobles, the Margrave of Brandenberg-Ansbach, and Melchior Pfinzing, a prominent Nuremberg patrician, who was also the provost of St Sebald’s and an advisor to Emperor Maximilian. The new windows were almost certainly designed by the Albrecht Dürer and one of his pupils, Hans von Kulmbach (c.1480–1528), and painted by the Veit Hirsvogel family workshop between 1501 and 1515. They show standing figures of saints and large-scale portrait images of the donors. Unlike the scheme they replaced, there were no narrative sequences in the new windows. The paintings are of the highest quality. The so-called Pfinzing Window includes an exquisite painting of the Virgin and Child based on a Dürer cartoon, the upper part of which is now in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia, while others, such as the painting of the church’s benefactor, the Emperor, Henry II, have enormous authority and power [Fig. 4].

Fig. 4. St Sebald, Emperor Heinrich II (ruled AD 972–1024) in the Bamberg Window, c.1501.

Fig. 4. St Sebald, Emperor Heinrich II (ruled AD 972–1024) in the Bamberg Window, c.1501.

Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalereien in Nürnberg, Sebalder Stadtseite, by Hartmut Scholz, German language only, Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi Deutschland, Band X, 2, Reimer publishing, 2013, 712 pp., plus numerous illustrations, many in colour.

ISBN: 978-3-87157-236-4: 118 euros, 148 Swiss francs


Cambridge Exhibition of French Medieval Manuscripts

Fig. 1. Angel with chalice, parish church of St John, Glastonbury, Somerset.

Fig. 1. Angel with chalice, parish church of St John, Glastonbury, Somerset.

A thirteenth-century manuscript telling the legendary story of the quest for the Holy Grail by King Arthur’s knights is one of the star attractions of a new exhibition in Cambridge focusing on the enormous cultural and historic impact of the French language upon life in England, Europe, the Middle East and beyond.

The Holy Grail was said to be the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper – ‘Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei …’ (‘For this is the chalice of my blood’) – and which was traditionally thought to have been used to collect his blood during the Crucifixion. The vessel was supposedly subsequently brought to Britain by Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple who had donated his own tomb to Christ. A fifteenth-century window depicting an angel holding the chalice survives at the parish church of St John in Glastonbury.

‘The Moving Word: French Medieval Manuscripts in Cambridge’ runs from 22 January to 17 April 2014, in the Milstein Exhibition Centre, Monday to Friday 09.00–18.00, Saturday 09.00–16.30 (Sunday closed). Admission free. For further information, visit the exhibition website, or read about it on the Cambridge University website.


CVMA Essex Update

Fig. 1. 16th century panel from St Edmund King and Martyr, East Mersa sII panel 1b.

Fig. 1. 16th century panel from St Edmund King and Martyr, East Mersa sII panel 1b.

Following on from my article in the last issue of Vidimus, I am pleased to report that images of stained glass and their associated metadata from over 90 locations in Essex are now available to view on the CVMA (GB) website. At each location, the photographic record covers not just the medieval glass, but all the stained glass present.

Fig. 2. Tree of Jesse window from St Margaret, Margaretting, Chancel, east window.

Fig. 2. Tree of Jesse window from St Margaret, Margaretting, Chancel, east window.

The task of completing the photographic record of the glass remaining in Essex continues, and I will be reporting further in future issues of Vidimus.

Christopher Parkinson


New Book on Medieval Wall Paintings

Fig. 1. ‘Medieval Wall Paintings’ cover.

Fig. 1. ‘Medieval Wall Paintings’ cover.

Many of the subjects depicted in medieval windows were also painted on church walls. They include images of Christ, stories of saints, and Christian pieties. Many such paintings complemented images in stained glass. A new and well-illustrated book on these paintings written by our Features Editor, Roger Rosewell, has now been published by Shire Books.

There are chapters on ‘The Painted Church’; ‘The Purpose of Wall Paintings’; ‘The Subjects: The Bible and Saints’; ‘The Subjects: Death and Judgement’; ‘The Subjects: Pieties and Transgressions’; ‘Text and Other Subjects’; ‘Making Wall Paintings’; ‘Wall Paintings and the Other Arts’; ‘Reformation and Afterwards’; ‘Domestic Wall Paintings’; and ‘Survival and Conservation’. There are also suggestions of further reading and a gazetteer.

Medieval Wall Paintings, paperback; 96 pages; nearly 100 colour photographs, price £7.99 1ISBN: 9780747812937.


University of York Spring Master-Class ‘Dealing with Loss: Ethical and technical approaches to restorations and the creation of infills’

The University of York MA in Stained Glass Conservation and Heritage Management Spring Master-Class will be held on Saturday 1 March 2014.

The master-class will focus on ethical and technical approaches to restorations and the creation of infills. Lectures will be given by Sarah Brown, University of York and the York Glaziers Trust; Dr Alex Holton, Purcell Heritage Consultants; Markus Kleine, Peters, Paderborn; Fernando Cortés Pizano, Lincoln Cathedral; Dr Martin Myrone, Tate Britain; and Dr Ivo Rauch, Koblenz.

Tickets for the event, which will take place at The King’s Manor, York YO1 7EP, are £20 (including lunch and refreshments) and are available from Brittany Scowcroft (brittany [dot] scowcroft [at] york [dot] ac [dot] uk or 01904 323910).


Windows from Canterbury Cathedral in New York Exhibition

 

Fig. 1. Abraham. © Dean & Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral.

Fig. 1. Abraham. © Dean & Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral.

Six near-life-size figures from Canterbury Cathedral will be shown in the exhibition ‘Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral’, opening 25 February at The Cloisters, a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York devoted to the art and architecture of the Middle Ages. The exhibition completes the celebration of the 75th anniversary year of the founding of The Cloisters. The exhibition was made possible by the Ruddock Foundation for the Arts.

The windows were originally from the clerestory of the cathedral’s choir, east transepts, and Trinity Chapel. The six figures – Jared, Lamech, Thara, Abraham, Noah and Phalec – were part of an original cycle of eighty-six ancestors of Christ, the most comprehensive ancestor cycle known in art history. One complete window (Thara and Abraham), nearly 12 feet in height, will be shown with its associated rich foliate border.

These imposing figures are masterpieces of Romanesque art, and exude an aura of dignified power. The angular limbs, form-defining drapery, and encompassing folds of the mantles all add a sculptural quality to the majestic figures, which are remarkably legible, even at a distance. (At Canterbury Cathedral, the clerestory windows are some 60 feet above the floor. The display at The Cloisters will be arranged in a towerlike structure.) The glass painting of the Methuselah Master, to whom the figures of Jared and Lamech are attributed, is distinguished by a remarkable delineation of form, achieved by means of a fluid graduated line and bold shading.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication, The Ancestors of Christ Windows at Canterbury Cathedral, by Jeffrey Weaver (The J. Paul Getty Museum) and American CVMA author Madeline H. Caviness (Tufts University). Written for general audiences, the book provides information about the context, iconography and style of the windows, and how they were perceived by various communities during the Middle Ages. Published by The J. Paul Getty Museum, the book will be available in the museum’s book shops ($25).

An interactive panorama of the Canterbury Cathedral on a large touch-screen monitor will provide visitors with a 360-degree view of the building’s interior and will show the windows in their original locations. A short video, Recreating a Medieval Window, will be shown in gallery.

For more details, see the museum’s website.

 


Protective Glazing at Trent Church

Fig. 1. A panel from St Andrew, Dorset

Fig. 1. A panel from St Andrew, Dorset

Plans have been announced to install protective glazing in the internationally important east window of the parish church of St Andrew in Dorset.

The window includes examples of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century stained glass from Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere collected by the Revd William Henry Turner (rector 1835–1875), whose recumbent effigy can be seen in the north chapel. Some of the glass is said to have come from St. Gallen, Wettingen, Lucerne and Cologne.

Conservators from Holy Well Glass, based in Wells (Somerset), are currently trialling some of the glass for treatment testing.


St Mary’s Beauchamp Chapel Awarded £40,000 Grant for Repairs

The Beauchamp Chapel, St Mary’s, Warwick, has been awarded a grant from the National Churches Trust. The chapel, which boasts a glazing scheme understood to be the most expensive carried out in England in the fifteenth century, will receive a £40,000 Cornerstone Grant for urgent repairs and conservation.

The Beauchamp Chapel looking east.

Fig. 1. The Beauchamp Chapel looking east.

The award is the final sum in the fundraising project, which saw combined donations from English Heritage, National Lottery and private donors reach £1m. Work on the chapel will take place in three phases, with the restoration of the walls and stained-glass windows in the south and east sides being prioritized, before work begins on the roof.

The chapel contains the tomb of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and the windows are by John Prudde of Westminster (Henry VI’s glazier) and date from 1447–64. The windows are notable for the lavish use of leaded jewelling, and the accurate depictions of musical instruments of the mid-fifteenth century. See Vidimus 43 for more information on the windows.


Rowan LeCompte

We are saddened to report the passing of renowned stained-glass artist Rowan LeCompte.

Rowan LeCompte had over 70 years of stained-glass experience, and designed and installed more than 45 windows for the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, his first commission coming at the age of 16.  An important artist, he created stained-glass windows for over 50 churches and public buildings in America. He will be greatly missed.