Relief at Notre Dame

Fig. 1. Notre Dame south rose window (Image by Gerhard Bögner from Pixabay).

Fig. 1. Notre Dame south rose window (Image by Gerhard Bögner from Pixabay).

Despite the loss of its great medieval roof, preliminary surveys suggest that none of the thirteenth-century glass in the three great rose windows of Notre Dame Cathedral has suffered irreparable damage following the terrible fire in Paris on April 15th.

The first of these windows was made c. 1220. It is the west facade and shows the Virgin in Glory surrounded by twelve Prophets, the Signs of the Zodiac, the Labours of the Month and the Vices and Virtues. Although only a few of the original thirteenth-century panels have survived, it is regarded as an important expression of the emerging Gothic style in Paris.

The second rose window is in the north transept. It was built 1250-55 and shares the same iconographical programme as the north rose window at Chartres Cathedral. A central figure of the Virgin is surrounded by ninety-six Old Testament figures: prophets in the inner circle, judges and kings in the second, other kings and high priests in the outer trefoils.

The third window is in the south transept and dates to c. 1260. The splendid glazing scheme, although somewhat rearranged and with additions from other windows, centres on the triumphant Christ in Heaven, surrounded by those who were his witnesses on earth: the twelve apostles, saints and martyrs beloved to France, as well as scenes from the Old and New Testaments. [Fig. 1]

Up to eight glazing workshops have been removing glass from the Cathedral since the fire. This is being done under the supervision of the French Ministry of Culture and includes the nineteenth-century nave and choir windows. Thereafter the LRMH (Laboratoire des Monuments historiques) will be responsible for assessing the condition of the glass and any repair/conservation treatment it requires. Scholars from the French Committee of the CVMA are already assisting the project.

As readers will know, in the immediate aftermath of the fire Emmanuel Macron, the President of the French Republic, set a deadline of five years for the rebuilding of the Cathedral and, by implication, the removal, conservation and reinstallation of its famous glass.

At the beginning of May, however, the French newspaper, Le Figaro, published an open letter to the President Macron signed by over 1,100 architecture, art and heritage experts urging caution rather than haste. Signatories included the president of the association of heritage architects Rémi Desalbres, the general administrator of the Louvre museum Wanda Diebolt and Philippe de Montebello, a former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
“Let us take the time to find the right path and then, yes, set an ambitious deadline for an exemplary restoration,” said the letter. “But let us not erase the complexity of the thought that must surround this site behind a display of efficiency.”

Some experts have argued that the project could take up to ten years.

Roger Rosewell


New Director at the Vitrocentre and Vitromusée, Romont

On June 1st, Francine Giese will take up the post of director of the Vitrocentre and Vitromusée Romont, due to the retirement of current director, Stefan Trümpler. With a background in Art History, Classical Archaeology and Ancient Near East Philogy, she is currently a Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Zurich, specialising in the medieval architecture of the Iberian Peninsula, and the exchanges between the Islamic world and the West in the Middle Ages and the nineteenth century. An interest in architectural decorative arts led to her involvement in the glass-making arts and with the Vitrocentre Romont. Widely published and involved with the development of several exhibitions, Prof. Giese is very interested in the conservation and enhancement of artistic heritage broadly.

Stefan Trümpler steps down from his position, before retiring fully at the end of this year, following more than thirty years of successful involvement with the Vitrocentre and Vitromusée, for which he is warmly thanked.

Stained Glass Museum Autumn Lecture Series

The Stained Glass Museum, Ely, has announced details of its lecture series for Autumn 2019. The series will focus on the concept of the ‘new’ in relation to stained glass: new commissions, new discoveries of medieval glass, and new ways of looking at the medium.

Fig. 1. East window of Christ Church, Hillsborough & Wadsley Bridge, Sheffield, by Harry Stammers.

Fig. 1. East window of Christ Church, Hillsborough & Wadsley Bridge, Sheffield, by Harry Stammers.

Wednesday, 2nd October
Mid-Century Modernity: New Ways of Looking at Postwar Stained Glass, by Jane Brocket.
This talk looks at the post-war period from a new angle, and considers the evolution of the pictorial tradition in windows made from 1945 to the late 1960s. It reveals a multitude of fascinating windows inspired by and reflecting the modern world, ordinary people, and everyday life. The work of a number of little-known but highly skilled, prolific designers and makers such as Harry Stammers, Harry Harvey, GER Smith, MC Farrar-Bell and John Hayward, who are now too often overlooked and underrated, they show that the period has much more to offer than Coventry Cathedral and John Piper alone.

Jane is the author of the recently-published How to Look at Stained Glass, an unstuffy guide to glass of all periods aimed at making looking at stained glass entertaining and rewarding.


Fig. 2 One of the new windows created from the discovered Westminster Abbey fragments by Canterbury Cathedral Studios © Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Fig. 2 One of the new windows created from the discovered Westminster Abbey fragments by Canterbury Cathedral Studios © Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Wednesday, 9th October
Redisplaying Fragments of the Newly Discovered Medieval Glazing of Westminster Abbey by Laura Atkinson.
In June 2018, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries opened at Westminster Abbey, displaying to the public previously unseen treasures from the Abbey’s collections. Preparation work for the Galleries led to the discover of almost 30,000 fragments of stained glass, hidden beneath the triforium floor, mostly dating back to the Middle Ages. Some of the fragments are now on display within the Galleries, whilst others were used to create two new windows installed in the bridge leading to the gallery. This talk discusses the creation of these window by the Canterbury Cathedral Studios, the challenges they presented, and the opportunity that arose to create an innovative new fragment display system.

Laura is a conservator at the Canterbury Studio, and led the Westminster Abbey glass finds project.


Fig. 3 Baptistry Window at Coventry Cathedral, by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens, c.1959-62

Fig. 3 Baptistry Window at Coventry Cathedral, by John Piper and Patrick Reyntiens, c.1959-62

Wednesday, 16th October
New Glass Commissions and their Significance in the Life and Worship of a Church or Cathedral, by Becky Clark.
Commissioning new stained glass is a major moment in the life of churches and cathedrals, and one of those which the Church of England’s permission-giving authorities see as potentially controversial and divisive. Whilst the opportunities of new art to bring in new audiences and engage with people through creativity and beauty are inherent, the potential to get things wrong is always present. This talk explores the reasons new stained glass might be commissioned, draws on projects and approaches that have been successful (and not) and will aim to inspire those who might be considering new stained glass in their own church to make the most of an often once-in-a-generation chance to add something significant to the history of the building.

Becky is Director of Churches and Cathedrals for the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England; Secretary of the Church Buildings Council and Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England.


Fig. 4. Windows by John McLean in the north aisle of Norwich Cathedral.

Fig. 4. Windows by John McLean in the north aisle of Norwich Cathedral.

Wednesday, 23rd October
John McLean’s three windows for Norwich Cathedral, by Rev. Canon Jeremy Haselock.
In 2014 three new colourful stained glass windows were installed in the north aisle of the nave of Norwich Cathedral. The windows were designed by British abstract painter John Maclean. Rev. Canon Jeremy Haselock, currently Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen, and former Vice-Dean of Norwich Cathedral will tell us more about this commission and Maclean’s creative process.

All talks begin at 2pm, and will take place in in Ely Cathedral Education & Conference Centre, Palace Green, Ely, CB7 4EW. Tickets cost £9 for an individual lecture and £35 for the series, discounts are available to Friends of the Stained Glass Museum. For further information, and to book tickets, see the Stained Glass Museum website

CVMA Joins the Medieval Academy of America

The website of the CVMA (GB), part of the international research project dedicated to the recording and publishing of all medieval stained glass, has been approved for inclusion in the Medieval Academy of America’s database of Medieval Digital Resources
Founded in 1925, the Academy is the largest organisation in the United States aiming to promote excellence in the field of medieval studies. It publishes the quarterly journal Speculum, awards prizes, grants and fellowships, and supports research, publication and teaching in all branches of medieval art and history.

REMINDER: BSMGP Discussion Day 2019: ‘Splendid yet Intimate - Stained Glass for House and Home’

Friday, 31st May, 2019 from 10.00am to 4.30pm

Each year the BSMGP holds a discussion day aimed at students and stained glass artists in the early stages of their career, although established artists and interested amateurs are also welcome. This May, the day will take as its theme, ‘Splendid yet Intimate – Stained Glass for House and Home’, acknowledging the historical and on-going significance of stained glass in a domestic context. Guest speakers Neil Ireson, Flora Jamieson, Rachel Mulligan AMGP and John Reyntiens, all of whom have worked extensively in producing stained glass for homes, will address the problems and joys of working to commission in a client’s home. Caroline Swash FMGP will chair the day, and there will be plenty of opportunity for discussion and questions.

The Discussion Day will be held in the Court Room, Glaziers’ Hall, 9 Montague Close, London SE1 9DD. Tickets cost £30 and include tea and coffee, but not lunch. For further details and to purchase tickets, see the Society’s website.

REMINDER: BSMGP Summer Lecture 2019

Friday, 14th June 2019 at 6.15pm

The British Society of Master Glass Painters’ (BSMGP) Summer lecture will be given this year by the award-winning architectural glass art specialist, Martin Donlin, who will share his Reflections on 30 years of Glass. These three decades have seen Martin take on projects large and small, sacred and secular, intended for busy public spaces as well as intimate, private settings. His works are characterised by the combination of bold images for impact as well as smaller, more intricate detailing, always aiming to enhance the spaces they inhabit.

The lecture will be held at The Art Workers’ Guild, 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 3AR, and a buffet supper is available for those who wish to stay on after the lecture. Tickets for the lecture cost £17 and the buffet is £16. For further information and to book tickets, please visit the Society’s website.