‘Ancestors of Christ’ Windows at Canterbury Cathedral Removed for Safekeeping

Fig. 1. Conservator, Joy Bunclark, removes Methuselah. © Dean & Chapter of Canterbury cathedral.

Fig. 1. Conservator, Joy Bunclark, removes Methuselah. © Dean & Chapter of Canterbury cathedral.

Over one hundred medieval stained glass panels have been removed from the south window of the south-west transept in Canterbury Cathedral for safekeeping, prior to the restoration of the stonework. Among them are 24 late 12th- and early 13th-century Old Testament figures, originally from the cathedral clerestory. [Figs. 1 and 2]

Fig. 2. The Studio conservation team in action. © Dean & Chapter of Canterbury cathedral.

Fig. 2. The Studio conservation team in action. © Dean & Chapter of Canterbury cathedral.

As we go online it is impossible to predict when the glass might be reinstated. ‘The Dean and Chapter is determined to understand and resolve the underlying problems which recently have caused cracks in some of the mullions’, a cathedral spokesman told Vidimus. ‘The cathedral architect, together with structural engineers, historians, stone masons and archaeologists, is undertaking a major study of the area around the south-west transept to discover the cause of the problem. The team will be examining the state of the foundations and taking an in-depth look at the history of the stonework and the impact of previous repairs. Until these preliminary investigations are completed, it is impossible to say what kind of repairs will be needed or how long they will take. We will reinstate the windows as soon as it is safe to do so’.

The panels depict, amongst others, Methuselah, Lamech, Enoch, and Thare, survivals from a scheme of 86 figures depicting the ancestors of Christ, installed in the clerestory of the eastern part of the cathedral after the fire of 1174. [Fig. 3]

Fig. 3. Methuselah. © Dean & Chapter of Canterbury cathedral.

Fig. 3. Methuselah. © Dean & Chapter of Canterbury cathedral.

The stained glass panels, most of which were moved to the south-west transept during the 18th century, were set behind protective glazing as part of a conservation campaign in the 1970s, thereby enabling their swift and safe removal. The glass is currently in safe storage and will be examined and lightly cleaned over the next year.

The remaining 20 ancestors from the scheme, including ‘Adam Delving’ (c.1176–8), are still on view to the public in the clerestory of the eastern transepts and in the west window, as are the typological windows in the presbytery and Becket’s miracle windows in the Trinity Chapel ambulatory.

The full list of ancestors in the south-west transept window is as follows:

Abraham, Achim (?), Boaz, David (twice), Enoch, Er, Ezekias, Jared, Joanna, Jose, Joseph, Josias, Juda (?), Lamech, Methuselah, Nathan, Noah, Phalec, Ragau, Salmon, Thara, Zorobabel.

To see these and other images from the cathedral see the CVMA archive.

Further Reading
•M. H. Caviness. The Early Glass of Canterbury Cathedral, circa 1175–1220, Princeton, 1977
•M. H. Caviness. The Windows of Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury, Corpus Vitrearum Great Britain, II, London, 1981
•M. A. Michael. Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral, London, 2004.

Eglinton Tournament Paintings to Stay in the UK


Fig. 1. Detail from ‘The Melee’ (No.2). © Abbott & Holder Ltd.

Fig. 1. Detail from ‘The Melee’ (No.2). © Abbott & Holder Ltd.

Following our News item in Vidimus 34, we are delighted to report that an important folio of watercolours by the 19th-century artist, James Henry Nixon, has been acquired by East Ayrshire Council following a temporary ban on their export by the former Government Culture Minister, Barbara Follett. [Fig. 1]

The paintings depicted the Eglinton ‘medieval tournament’ of 1839 and will shortly go on display alongside a recently-acquired set of shields made for the tournament at Dean Castle, Kilmarnock.

Announcing the purchase, the Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, Colin McLean, said: ‘The Eglinton Tournament is a flamboyant piece of Ayrshire’s heritage which impacted upon the whole of Scotland. We are delighted to have helped secure these significant watercolours and shields so that they can be kept in the country and enjoyed by the public.’

A new exhibition is planned for 2011 featuring collections from throughout the country relating to the tournament as well as the Gothic Revival of the period.

For more information and to view the watercolours and shields, visit the Future Museum website.

The paintings were purchased with funds provided by the National Fund for Acquisitions, The Art Fund, The Heritage Lottery Fund and East Ayrshire Council.

Medieval Stained Glass Online from the Cathedral of Brandenburg an der Havel

Geoffrey Lane reports:

Fig. 1. The great east window, Brandenburg cathedral. © CVMA (Potsdam).

Fig. 1. The great east window, Brandenburg cathedral. © CVMA (Potsdam).

The German CVMA (Potsdam) has created a stunning website about the great east window of Brandenburg Cathedral. [Fig. 1]
The foundations of the Romanesque cathedral at Brandenburg were laid in 1165 by Bishop Wilmar (1161–1173). The eastern section was built without vaulting in several phases (choir with apse, transept with no opening to the west). Next, foundations were laid for the nave, arranged in three aisles – perhaps completed in the late 12th century. A late Gothic reshaping of the choir followed in the mid-15th century. Consolidation of diocesan finances under Bishop Stephan Bodecker (1421–1459) created conditions for the start of extensive rebuilding. The choir polygon was rebuilt on the existing foundations, the choir, transept and nave were all vaulted, and the great choir window – a tripartite structure between stepped buttresses – was created. The foundations were probed in the years 1801 and 1827 because of structural concerns, and in 1827 the Cathedral Chapter commissioned Karl Friedrich Schinkel to take control of repair work. The building, of great regional significance, was thoroughly restored between 1834 and 1836. Following Schinkel’s restoration, what remained of the cathedral’s medieval stained glass was placed in the middle rows of the central light of the choir window.

Fig. 2. Anna Selbdritt, panel 8b. © CVMA (Potsdam).

Fig. 2. Anna Selbdritt, panel 8b. © CVMA (Potsdam).

The website includes a ground plan (Grundriss) and a watercolour painted by Johan Heinrich Hintze in 1837, showing the interior as it then appeared. Links from either of these take the viewer to an image of the ancient glass itself, which occupies the central light of the main east window. From this point further links provide access to the individual panels. As the accompanying commentary explains, the huge lancet contains 45 stained glass panels, of which 33 are of medieval origin – the four lowest rows containing ornamental glass of the first half of the 19th century. The bottom tier (1a–1c) contains purely geometric glass by Thom of Berlin, to a design by Schinkel (1835), while gothic architectural designs from the Royal Institute of Glass-painting in Berlin (1853) fill the next three rows (2–4).

The medieval glass divides into three categories (Werkgruppen), of which only the first two originated in the cathedral:

– a sequence of seven panels dating from around 1460/65 (6b, 7a–7c, 8a–8c)
– a further grouping of five panels from around 1490 (6a, 6c, 9a–9c)
– 19 panels from the last years of the 13th century which came to Brandenburg from the Dominican church at Colmar, in Alsace, early in the 19th century, and which have been in the east window since 1851 (5a–5c and more or less everything from row 10 upwards).

The highlight of the first group is a charming panel of St Anne holding the Virgin and Child (8b), a good example of an image widely popular in Germany, where it came to be known as ‘Anna Selbdritt’ – it translates roughly as ‘St Anne making three’ (cf. Panel of the Month, in Vidimus26). David with his harp sharing a niche with a warrior saint (6b), several saints (Apollonia, Sebastian and Andrew) and a pair of angels holding coats of arms complete this cluster of panels. The second group is more fragmentary; it features a half-figure of God the Father with large beard, crown and sceptre (9b), probably from a Coronation of the Virgin, part of a Conversion of St Paul (6a) and some mournful heads probably from a Death of the Virgin (9c). [Fig. 2]

The most striking element in the third group is a Virgin and Child (10b), markedly earlier in style and character than others in this group. The sinuous crowned Virgin is of a type that spread from Paris around 1300, especially to the Upper Rhine. The Child cradled in her arms holds a rose in one hand and tenderly tugs at his mother’s veil with the other. On the website we see this precious panel in its proper place, although the original has in fact been confined to the cathedral museum since 1976 for conservation reasons – replaced in the window by a copy. [Fig. 3]

Fig. 3. Virgin and Child, panel 10b. © CVMA (Potsdam)

Fig. 3. Virgin and Child, panel 10b. © CVMA (Potsdam)

The remaining Colmar panels are all decorative, a profusion of foliate and architectural fragments – mainly the pinnacled tops of lost canopies. One of the most delightful (5a) features pairs of storks and dogs (?) perched on the flanking pinnacles.

Each panel can be viewed in close-up, and comes complete with a restoration diagram (Erhaltungszustand). Many of the panels can also be selected to reveal enlarged areas of detail. The website also features the cathedral’s fine altarpiece, acquired in 1552 from the Cistercian abbey church of Lehnin. An inscription on its base states that it was created in 1518, probably at a workshop in Leipzig.

Another website by the same team on the glass in St Paul’s Church, Brandenburg and der Havel featured in Vidimus 28.

Special Offer to Vidimus Readers on Katerina’s Windows

Fig. 1. Katerina’s Windows

Fig. 1. Katerina’s Windows

This book uses the letters of a medieval nun to chart her life and chronicle her efforts to commission a cycle of stained glass windows for the cloister of her nunnery. It is reviewed at length in our Books pages where it is praised as ‘a magnificent, utterly engrossing, splendidly illustrated, five-star achievement which brings a lost world to life and represents a major contribution to medieval stained glass studies and much more’.

We are delighted to report that Vidimus readers can receive a 20% discount on the list price of this highly praised book (reduced from $110 to $88) by downloading an order form from the website that accompanies the publication.

Stained Glass Conservation Conference in Switzerland

A major international conference to examine the results of a three-year research project about the conservation of stained glass will be held at the Glass Museum (Vitromusée) at Romont (Switzerland) over 27–28 May 2010

The CONSTGLASS project – ‘Conservation Materials for Stained Glass Windows – Assessment of Treatments, Studies on Reversibility, and Performance of Innovative Restoration Strategies and Products’ – began in 2007, with the participation of 11 partners from seven countries. Since then the project has:
– Evaluated the conservation treatments performed in the last five decades on outstanding European stained glass windows from the cathedrals of Cologne, Canterbury, Chartres, Le Mans and Bourges, complemented by studies of glass in museum and other locations
– Documented the degradation behaviour of conservation materials (particularly coatings, consolidants and adhesives) as well as their impact on the works of art
– Explored how advanced analytical and imaging techniques are being integrated into newly-developed documentation schemes
– Investigated deterioration effects by using nano-computed tomography (CT), phase-contrast CT, Raman spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy and other methods
– Examined the threat of microbial impact to glass and conservation materials
– Assessed the risks, reversibility and re-treatability of conservation materials
– Evaluated the use of new inorganic consolidants for the stabilisation of internally fractured glass or fragile glass paint

For more information, including details of the conference programme and booking details see the Vitromusée website.

The participating partners in CONSTGLASS are: the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research (Germany); LBW–Bioconsult (Germany); the Laboratoire de Recherche des Monuments Historiques (France); the Academy of Fine Arts Krakow (Poland); the Metropolitankapitel der Hohen Domkirche Köln (Germany); the Artesis University College Antwerp (Belgium); Sincrotrone Trieste (Italy); Fyne Conservation Services (Great Britain); The Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral (Great Britain); Gent University (Belgium); Vitrocentre Romont (Switzerland)(CH).

Exhibition of Marc Chagall Drawings for Stained Glass at Tudeley

Designs by Marc Chagall (1887–1985) for the 12 windows that he created for the parish church of All Saints at Tudeley in Kent will be exhibited at two venues later this year. According to the exhibition curator, Nathaniel Hepburn, the drawings will show the evolution of Chagall’s design and how the windows of Tudeley Church could have looked very different from how they appear today. The drawings have never been previously exhibited in the UK. [Fig. 1]

Fig. 1. Marc Chagall east window at Tudeley

Fig. 1. Marc Chagall east window at Tudeley

The drawings will form part of Cross Purposes, an exhibition of images of the crucifixion by 22 of the most important artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Apart from the drawings by Chagall, the exhibition will also include works by Stanley Spencer, Tracey Emin, Duncan Grant, Eric Gill, Maggi Hambling, Lee Miller, Graham Sutherland and Emmanuel Levy.

The exhibition will take place at:

– Mascalls Gallery, Paddock Wood, West Kent: 5 March– 29 May 2010
– Ben Uri, The London Jewish Museum of Art: 15 June– 19 September 2010

For more information see the Mascalls Gallery website.

Advance Offer on Forthcoming German CVMA Freiburg Volumes

Fig. 1. Special Offer.

Fig. 1. Special Offer.

We are pleased to be able to offer readers a 20% discount on two eagerly awaited volumes from the German CVMA (Freiburg), Written by Dr Rüdiger Becksmann, the books focus on the stained glass in the historic city of Freiburg, especially the Münster, the church of the Dominicans and the Charterhouse. Together the two German-text volumes comprise 800 pages with about 1200 illustrations, 320 of them in colour. The books will be published in June. [Figs. 1 and 2]

Fig. 2. Special Offer.

Fig. 2. Special Offer.

Readers of Vidimus will receive a discount of more than 25% of the book price, that is €98 instead of €138 (plus postage of €10 within Germany and €15 abroad) if orders are placed before March 31, 2010.

For further information contact:

Stained Glass Books for Sale

The latest copy of Morris and Juliet Venables’ catalogue of antiquarian and second-hand books about stained glass has been published. Nearly seven hundred items are listed. Titles range from medieval and modern, history and techniques.

For more information contact:

Name that Roundel!

This month’s puzzle is dominated by the foreground scene of a woman raising a cudgel as if to strike a young man. The couple are watched by a group of five women, some of whom sit in an open window. The building they occupy could be a tavern, as a decorated sign hangs outside. The scene takes place in a walled town with a cobbled street. It comes from a collection of 16th-century roundels and other early panels donated by a local resident to the parish church of St Bartholomew, at Yarnton in Oxfordshire. [Fig. 1]

Fig. 1 Name that Roundel!

Fig. 1 Name that Roundel!

The Dutch stained glass historian, Dr Kees Berserik, has dated the roundel to c.1530, and attributed it to painters working in the southern Low Countries. Roundels of this period depict a range of subjects, including stories from the Old and New Testaments, the lives of saints, and tales from ancient history and classical literature, such as Homer’s Odyssey.

The solution to this month’s puzzle is contributed by Dr Paul Taylor of the Warburg Institute in London. His explanation can be found at the foot of the Books section.

If any reader has any comments or queries about this, and other panels in the series, please write to:



Until 17 January : Louis Comfort Tiffany:Couleurs et Lumière exhibition at the Musée du Luxembourg, Paris. Window glass by this famous American designer (1848–1933) is included. For more information see the Musée du Luxembourg website.

Until 24 January : Scripture for the Eyes, an exhibition of 16th-century Netherlandish prints at the Michael C Carlos Museum, Emory University, Atlanta, USA. For more information, see the Michael C Carlos Museum website. For a review of the catalogue see Vidimus 32.

Until 24 January : The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600–1700: The National Gallery, London. For more information see the National Gallery website.

Until 30 January: Entwined across the Ages: Illuminated Manuscripts and Tapestries at The Stark Museum, Orange, Texas, USA. For more information visit the Stark Museum website.

Until 31 January : Jan van Eyck: Grisailles at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. For more information see the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza website.

Until 31 January : Zwischen Himmel und Erde – Klöster und Pflegehöfe at the state museum in Essinglen.The exhibition includes stained glass. For more information see the Essinglen Museum website.

Until 7 February : Sordid and Sacred: The Beggars in Rembrandt’s Etchings from the John Villarino Collection exhibition at the Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoake, Virginia, USA. Features 35 rare etchings by Rembrandt van Rijn executed between 1629 and 1654. For more information, see the Taubman Museum website.

Until 14 February: A Book of Prayers: The Medieval Bestseller at the Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, USA. For more details see the Speed Art Museum website.

Until 26 February : Botticelli, an exhibition of 80 works by the Italian renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli and his circle at the Städel museum, Frankfurt. For more information see the Städel museum website.

Until 26 February: Sleutel tot licht (Key to Light), an exhibition of twenty-five Dutch late medieval Books of Hours at the J. R. Ritman Library, Amsterdam. For more information see the Ritman Library website. The exhibition is accompanied by a Dutch text catalogue, Helen C. Wüstefeld and Anne S. Korteweg, Sleutel tot licht. Getijdenboeken in de Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica

From 2 March – 23 May : The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, features 40 alabaster mourning figures from the tomb of John the Fearless (1371–1419), on loan from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon while the museum undergoes renovation. The exhibition is accompanied by a 128 page catalogue by Sophie Jugie. After closing in New York the exhibition will travel to six other museums in the USA before opening in Paris in 2012. For information about the New York exhibition see the Metropolitan Museum of Art website.

10 February – 24 May : Paris, Ville rayonnante, Le XIIIe siècle, âge d’or de l’architecture et de la sculpture exhibition at the National Museum of the Middle Ages (The Cluny) in Paris. Although not about stained glass, the exhibition will explore the architecture of buildings well known to Vidimus readers such as the Saint-Chapelle and the Chapel of the Virgin at Saint-Germain-des-Pres. For more information see the exhibition website.

From 2 March – 13 June: The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, is a once-in-a-lifetime display of the 172 sumptuous illuminations from the medieval prayer book, one of the Museum’s great treasures, while it is temporarily unbound for conservation (and the preparation of a facsimile edition). For further information see the Metropolitan Museum of Art website.

Until 3 July : Albrecht Durer: Virtuoso Printmaker, an exhibition of 45 prints from the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

6 March – 4 July : Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. For more information see the Victoria & Albert Museum website.

From 1 June – 8 August: Old Testament Imagery in Medieval Christian Manuscripts at the Getty Centre, California, USA. For more information see the Getty Centre website.

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