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Stained Glass on Paper at the V&A

A group of cataloguers, photographers, curators and volunteers at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, have published two interesting blog posts on cartoons for stained glass. The group, nicknamed ‘the Factory’, are in the process of working through the stored collections of the Prints, Designs, Photographs, Paintings and Digital Art sections of the Word and Image department at the V&A, and aim to ensure that images and existing data about the items held at the museum are available to the public.

The group focused this month on the museum’s collection of designs, cartoons and drawings of stained glass – ‘Stained Glass on Paper.’ The first post explores medieval and Renaissance designs, highlighting how cartoons were used as a guide to indicate the glass colours to be used, as well as the lead-lines and details to be painted. As we know from evidence of the Girona table (Vidimus 83 and pioneering research by Anna Santolaria, Vidimus 84), the earliest cartoons were drawn onto boards or tables, which could be wiped down and reused for different designs. The oldest designs in the collection of paper cartoons at the Victoria & Albert Museum date from the 15th and 16th centuries, and the blog discusses the light these drawings shed on the process of stained-glass production, noting how glass-painters were often tasked with translating an intricate drawing into a different medium, glass.

19th-century cartoons are also addressed in the second blog post, as the museum holds designs for stained glass by artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Edward Burne-Jones. The posts are illustrated with photographs of designs and windows from the Victoria & Albert Museum collection, and include a video showing a cartoon in use. The ‘Factory’ promises a third article on drawings of existing stained glass, so be sure to check the website.