Emma Woolfrey reports.
The 28th Colloquium of the Corpus Vitreaum International was hosted by the French CVMA in Troyes on 4–8 July 2016. Troyes, often referred to as the ‘sacred city of stained glass’ (‘ville sainte du vitrail’), provided an ideal location for colleagues and friends within the Corpus to come together to present and discuss recent research. Held in an outstanding venue, Le Centre de Congrès de l’Aube, the colloquium offered a programme of lectures that provided an excellent overview of stained glass found in the residence, encompassing an extensive period spanning the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. A number of scholarships presented by Michel Hérold at the start of the colloquium enabled several students, including myself, to attend the event.
The subject of this year’s colloquium, ‘Stained Glass in the Residence, from its Origins to the Present: Glazing and Decorating the Window’, highlighted a vast and overlooked wealth of material. Both well-established and younger scholars presented on topics that served to underline the burgeoning nature of research within this field of stained-glass studies. Many thought-provoking questions were raised throughout the colloquium; in particular, the nature of the residence in which the glass was located – permanent and non-permanent, public and private, middle- and upper-class – became a recurring issue, throwing into relief the complex and multifaceted contexts of domestic glass. Furthermore, the imagery found within the domestic sphere compared with that seen in ecclesiastical settings was considered, with representations of the divine in profane spaces suggesting a relationship between the glazing of these contrasting contexts that deserves further attention. The craftsmanship and materials of domestic stained glass were also explored. The growing demand for glass-painting in civic contexts in the nineteenth century was seen to have led to the development and widespread use of new glasses and techniques, such as semi-opaque muslin glass, and the emergence of standardized designs provided on an industrial scale.
The lectures were accompanied by a carefully conceived programme of site visits that encompassed not only stained glass located in the city of Troyes, but also that found in the Aube départment. The visits were led by experts who provided introductions to each building and its glazing; these served as a useful basis for further discussion on the significance of the glass. The talk by Laurence Riviale on the 1502 window depicting the Triumphs of Petrarch from the church of Ervy-le-Châtel, which formed part of an exhibition curated by Riviale, was particularly engaging. The opportunity to visit stunning buildings such as Saint-Urbain, Troyes, was also a wonderful opportunity for those who had never viewed these sites before. A visit to the cellars of Gremillet champagne was also much appreciated by the attendees.
The event culminated in a day trip to the city of Châlons-en-Champagne and three of its churches: the cathedral Saint-Etienne, the church of Notre-Dame-en-Vaux, and the church of Saint-Alpin. This was a stimulating day and a wonderful end to a thoroughly enjoyable week. We were all most grateful to the French CVMA for hosting such a well-organized and thought-provoking colloquium.