François Gatouillat and Michel Hérold, with the collaboration of Karine Boulanger and Jean-François Luneau, Les Vitraux d’Auvergne et du Limousin, Corpus Vitrearum, France, Série complémentaire, Recensement des vitraux anciens de la France, Volume IX (Rennes, 2011), 45 euros

Fig.1. Book cover

Fig.1. Book cover

The ‘Recensement des vitraux anciens de la France’ series of the French Corpus Vitrearum has reached its ninth volume, and it should not be too long before the whole project has been completed. This will represent a massive achievement. With the present volume, covering the regions of the Auvergne and the Limousin, we are in the southern half of the country, where the distribution of surviving glass is much sparser. In the four départements of the Auvergne thirty-six buildings retain remains of their original glazing, and four house glass moved from elsewhere; lost glass is recorded at eleven further locations. The three départements of the Limousin have only eighteen buildings with glass in situ, and two with displaced glass; lost glass is documented for a further eighteen. Despite these low numbers, significant amounts of glass are still to be found in some of the sites, often of a high quality and great interest.

The French Corpus Vitrearum has a policy of going beyond the temporal confines of the medieval period in its regional surveys, to include discussion not only of late sixteenth-century and seventeenth-century glass, but also some of the best modern work from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The volume is certainly made more visually attractive by the inclusion of several excellent illustrations of these modern windows. The illustrations are in full colour and of very high quality. Only the glass of the two regions is illustrated, plus a few drawings of lost glass, apart from one comparative image of the glass at Bourges. The volume is an exemplary publication in many ways and the French Corpus Vitrearum team are to be congratulated. Let us hope that their description of the deteriorating condition of some of the glass will lead to a more rapid and extensive programme of conservation.

 The Auvergne: from Early Glass to the Fourteenth Century

The chronologically structured introduction to the stained glass of the Auvergne begins with a brief setting of the historical context and a survey of the relatively sparse literature. The story of stained glass in the region begins with an early reference by Gregory of Tours in the sixth century to the destruction of a glazed window in the basilica of St Julian in Clermont earlier in the century. Fragments of Merovingian glass have been found at Brioude. Despite the large number of Romanesque churches, the only pre-Gothic glass extant is that in the cathedral of Clermont-Ferrand. This high-quality glass dating from the years around 1200 cannot have come from the present building, and its provenance remains unknown. It includes part of an Infancy of Christ cycle and bears some resemblance to glass at Lyon.

There is a large amount of important thirteenth-century glass at Clermont Cathedral that poses great problems of interpretation because it has been much restored and rearranged, notably by Félix Gaudin in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A special note in the catalogue warns that for the present volume it has not been possible to examine the glass in workshop conditions or from a scaffold, so that all conclusions of authenticity remain provisional. Photos taken before Gaudin’s restoration allow two important cycles of c.1220–30 to be identified in the Chapel of St Anne: a typological Passion, and a series of scenes connected with the Ascension and Pentecost. Other scenes are from windows depicting the Glorification of the Virgin and the lives of several saints, and there are two panels containing four bishops. The closest comparisons are again with Lyon.

The construction of the Gothic choir at Clermont began in 1248. The first windows were made in the 1260s for the radiating chapels, where three workshops worked at the same time. The windows of the quadrilateral followed in the 1280s. Three of these survive, made by two workshops, and they are more refined, comparable to the Parisian illuminations of Maître Honoré. These lower windows had full-colour saints’ lives relating to the dedication of the chapels. Later in the 1280s, the upper windows of the choir were made following a radically different iconographic scheme, with the Virgin of the Assumption crowned by Christ and a series of Apostles and prophets set on grisaille. The windows of one north choir bay were made or remade later, about 1300. In the transepts a few remains of the mainly decorative rose windows survive.

Elsewhere in the thirteenth century only some small windows at Coulandon, probably from the 1220s, survive; they do not relate to the Clermont glass.

The almost unknown glass at Ravel dating to the fourteenth century is important. The church was probably built by a royal protégé and its early fourteenth-century glass reflected the king’s political interests. Yellow stain is absent, but many features reflect the decorative language then current in Paris and Normandy. Only a few fragments survive of an important mid-fourteenth-century pontifical scheme at the abbey of La Chaise-Dieu, although surviving accounts reveal much about the working methods of this otherwise unknown workshop, and parallels are found in Provence. The work was started in 1344 and finished by 1350, in time for the burial of the pope, who died in 1352. The glass was specifically designed to allow it to be produced rapidly. Glass at Montferrand of c.1380 is decorated with scallop shells, recalling the position of the church on a pilgrimage route to Santiago da Compostela.

 The Auvergne in the Fifteenth Century

After the relatively meagre survivals of the earlier period, we reach what the authors describe as a golden age in the fifteenth century. The early part of the century is poorly represented and documented however, though the accounts for Montferrand provide the names of several glass-painters, one of which may be the Jean Château who painted the high choir windows in the former priory of Souvigny. This is in the Bourbonnais, where much of the glass of the fifteenth century, the product of Bourbon patronage, is found. The main part of the Souvigny glazing dates from the end of the 1430s, linked to the rebuilding of the choir. The programme of the high windows, painted by Jean Château, is still discernable and the figures are in a powerful style unparalleled elsewhere.

Jean Château is also documented as working at Moulins in relation to the visit of Queen Marie d’Anjou, the wife of Charles VII; here the collegiate church has glass of probably the same date as the Souvigny windows. Château’s commission to help with the ceremonial attendant on the royal entry may be compared with John Mundeford, a Norwich glazier, who in 1469 was one of a group of citizens who organized pageants for the arrival in the city of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV. Also at Souvigny is a window with a Crucifixion and Last Judgement, which may have been given c.1440–50.

Charles I, Duke of Bourbon, and his wife Agnès de Bourgogne were leading patrons of glass in the Bourbonnais, and their most important stained-glass commission was the renewing of the glazing of the Sainte-Chapelle at Riom c.1450–60. Riom was one of several Saintes-Chapelles to be built in the area, all of which were to some extent modelled on the founding example established by St Louis in Paris. The authors devote a separate section to these high-status buildings, going beyond the glazing to explain their purpose, common characteristics, and the precise political context for their construction. Most of the glazing in these buildings has been lost, but the glass at Riom is largely extant and is particularly fine; it was the subject together with the related work at Bourges of a comprehensive monograph by Brigitte Kurmann Schwarz. Other glass by the same workshop is in the church of Notre-Dame-du-Marthuret at Riom.

A number of other surviving works of the fifteenth century in the Auvergne are distinguished by their differences rather than their similarities. These include a window in the cathedral at Clermont, and the glass at Mozac and Saint-Pallais.

Some of the most remarkable windows made in France in the late fifteenth century are at Moulins and in the Bourbonnais, where the Bourbon dukes remained important patrons. The construction and decoration of Bourbon Saintes-Chapelles played a determining part in this golden age. Their study is made difficult by the almost total loss of the windows of Bourbon-l’Archambault and Aigueperse. The priory of Souvigny and the collegiate church at Moulins have the best glass, though little remains at Souvigny. It was glazed c.1458, and then reglazed by Pierre II and Anne of France with glass including dukes and duchesses, suggesting a genealogical scheme as at Riom, Bourbon-l’Archambault and Aigueperse.

It is at Moulins that the artistic activity of the Bourbons was concentrated and where the most glass survives. The foundation stone of the former collegiate chapel of Notre Dame was laid in 1469. By 1486, the lower parts of the apse were completed, as were possibly the whole corona of chapels by the start of the 1480s. The upper parts were finished by 1503–1504. The ducal windows are here shown to have been in the privileged positions at the east end, including the Crucifixion window of c.1485 in the axis given by Cardinal Charles de Bourbon. The next window was a gift of Nicolas Petidé, financial director for Duke Jean II 1481–1486. The most obvious signs of ducal patronage were seen in the high choir windows, where the Dormition survives in the axis window. Members of the local elite also added to the patronage of the ducal family. Almost all of the chapel windows were given by government officials, newly promoted nobles or members of the college chapter. The glass-painters employed have not been identified for certain, but an from the locality most likely to be a glass-painter for the windows at Moulins is Étienne Saulnier, who died in 1503. Several designers were used on these windows: they share cartoons, but are in different styles, and sometimes marked differences are seen within one window. An inscription on one window has been interpreted as the signature of Jacquelin de Montluçon (1463–1505), but a comparison of this artist’s known works with the Moulins window contradicts this.

The so-called Maître de Moulins has been identified and generally accepted as Jean Hey. He was of Flemish origin and one of the greatest artists of the late fifteenth century. He is known for his work for Cardinal Rolin and then for Cardinal Charles de Bourbon at Lyon from at least 1482. After his patron’s death in 1488, he worked for Pierre II de Bourbon. His most famous work is the celebrated Moulins diptych, usually dated to c.1498–99. After the death of Pierre II in 1503, his activity seems to have ceased. He was probably one of a number of artists working in several media and also providing cartoons for others, including glass-painters. At Moulins several windows have been attributed to him wrongly. His manner can be seen in the window in bay 12 given by the Popillon family c.1500. The best-preserved glass is in the tracery, including an Annunciation and the Virgin of the Asssumption, and it accords perfectly with the style of this artist. A detail of the Assumption on the front cover of the book reveals the technical virtuosity of the painting, including the use of some hitherto unknown painting techniques including browny-pink, yellow and plum-coloured paint. The Dormition in the axis window may have been made after a drawing by Jean Hey, or a lost retable. The Moulins windows require further study, and a monograph is badly needed.

Most of the Bourbon building projects had been completed by the early sixteenth century, and unlike many regions in France there is relatively little glass of this period surviving or recorded in the Auvergne. What does survive is very varied, with few points of comparison. The vast rebuilding programmes of c.1480–1540 that occurred in other regions did not happen here. The longevity of Romanesque buildings made it unnecessary and the churches did not suffer in the Hundred Years War.

 The Auvergne in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

At Montluçon the church of Notre-Dame has three windows of c.1510–20, one of which has been attributed to artists from Lyon. At Moulins the glazing of several of the chapels was renewed, including the Duke’s window and a life of St Barbara of c.1510–20. The windows of the Sainte-Chapelle of Vic-le-Comte of c.1524 are of exceptional quality, including a typological programme with genealogical and dynastic features. The glass is of brilliant and virtuosic execution, and the scene of the manna collection has an unsurpassed number of insertions. Unfortunately there are no comparisons for this glass. Lyon and Bourges are suggested as possible sources.

The links between Bourges and the Auvergne are illustrated again at Riom in a window dated 1538 in the south chapel of the church of Notre-Dame du Marthuret, dedicated to St James. This chapel was probably home to the guild of the pilgrims of St James, in view of the scallops and pilgrim staffs on the architecture and in the glass. The glass can be compared to some in Bourges, but is of lower quality.

With fewer windows and glass of lower quality, the activities of glass-painters in the Auvergne are difficult to follow at this time. Some names are known, but these are not attached to any works, and reveal that craftsmen were dispersed, with no real centre of activity, responding to local needs (mainly maintenance and repair, but also the provision of domestic glazing); only Clermont had activity of any importantance.

Another example of enamel painting can be seen at Courpière in the chapel of the castle of La Barge from the end of the sixteenth century. The patrons of the glass, François and Étienne de La Barge, had played an active part on the side of the Catholics in the wars of religion. The lower part of the five windows has depictions of members of the La Barge family, with the life of the Virgin and the Immaculate Conception above, and a Crucifixion in the axis window.

Few works from the first half of the seventeenth century are extant in the Auvergne. At Moulins a small medallion dated 1617 is now among the fragments at the church of Saint-Pierre des Carmes. Other pieces are at the chapel of Aurinques d’Aurillac and in the church of Saint-Barthélemy at Crandelles. At the former, there is a small Virgin and Child dated 1622 and in the axis window at the latter a Crucifixion, with St Bartholomew instead of St John the Evangelist. Both use coloured and enamelled glass skilfully.

 The Auvergne in the Eighteenth and Nineteeth Centuries

Little is known of the work of glaziers working on the repair of windows in churches and civil buildings in the eighteenth century in the Auvergne. A few names are known at Clermont and Riom. In the seventeenth century, glaziers had been given the title maître, but this disappeared in the eighteenth. There is some indication that dynasties of glaziers were present, sometimes continuing beyond the French Revolution into the nineteenth century. Their practice of using stopgaps or white glass to replace any defective glazing led to the loss of much medieval glass. As elsewhere, the Auvergne suffered from vandalism in the Revolution, especially at Clermont, where only the cathedral and three old churches survived, with glass only in the former.

The nineteenth century was above all one of restoration, which in turn stimulated new windows. The Auvergne was one of the earliest centres for the revival of stained glass in the provinces. In the early 1830s, windows were made by the Manufacture de Sèvres in Paris for the castle chapel at Randan and the church of Notre-Dame du Port, but in 1825 Émile Thibaud and Étienne-Hormidas Thevenot founded the first local workshop, after the cathedral had been damaged by a hailstorm. Thereafter they were awarded contracts for new windows all over the département and beyond, and also monopolized restoration work. After 1879, workshops began to increase in number in the area and gradually took over business. Commissions were also given to workshops outside the region, and Parisian studios made windows for several buildings.

The end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the next saw further restorations, some entrusted to local workshops, such as Félix Gaudin at Clermont. Work for most of the classified buildings was given to workshops in Paris, where they could be more easily supervised by the officials of the Monuments historiques. Félix Gaudin moved to Paris in 1890 and was given the work at Vic-le-Comte, Aigueperse and the church of Le Marthuret at Riom, and also at Clermont, where the present arrangement is his work.

The Auvergne in the Twentieth Century

During the two world wars, many windows were put into storage. Reinstallation caused further restoration, as at Moulins Cathedral. Glass from the chapel of St Nicolas in Priziac (Morbihan) was mistakenly installed at Triziak (Cantal) as a result of a misread label!

At present, many windows are threatened with corrosion and external protective glazing has been installed for only two windows in the Auvergne. It is badly needed in the collegiate church at Moulins. At Souvigny, the high choir windows are suffering from attack by micro-organisms, as are those in the Sainte-Chapelle at Riom.

Not much was made in the Auvergne in the time of art nouveau and art déco, but a few local workshops were active between the wars. The best windows of the 1930s are by workshops from outside of the region. In 1930, Francis Chigot from Limoges made the great triptych on the staircase of the Petit Casino at Vichy, depicting comedy, music and tragedy. In the church of the Sacré Cœur at Aurillac the frescoes and mosaics were accompanied by windows of Marguerite Huré. François Décorchement, most of whose work was done in the Eure département, did work at Albepierre and Fressanges. He made windows in which each piece of glass was made separately and then mounted in a cement armature.

The Auvergne was spared large-scale destruction during the two World Wars, so no windows are linked to rebuilding after bombing. Some new building and glazing was undertaken however. Two windows at Sainte-Marie in the Cantal were made to designs by Jean Cocteau. The dalles de verre technique, a new method developed by Jean Gaudin in 1929, was used for a number of windows, including those at Sainte-Anne at Châtel-Guyon, which were made of slabs of Baccarat crystal.

Fewer windows, however, were made in the twentieth century compared with the previous one, although two artists with contrasting temperaments, Alain Makaraviez and Jean Mauret, are well represented. The church of Saint-Julien at Brioude has just received a vast ensemble of new windows entrusted after a competition to the Korean priest Kim En Joong, who works in an abstract style.

The Catalogue of the Auvergne

The catalogue of the windows follows the introduction in the usual rather dense layout without sub-headings, but full of fascinating information for those prepared to delve, particularly on the history of the glazing and bibliography. At the end of the catalogue for each département are sections on fragmentary windows, and lost or excavated glass as appropriate, and there is an appendix giving numbered diagrams of the large lower windows at Clermont-Ferrand Cathedral.

Early Glass in the Limousin

There then follows the introduction to the glass of the Limousin. In addition to the collections that are already known in the region, such as the twelfth-century glass at Aubazine and the fifteenth-century glass in the choir of the collegiate church at Eymoutiers, the survey shows that the area has a great variety of old windows spread over the three départements and almost unpublished. After a brief historical introduction and a discussion of the again meagre literature, the pre-Romanesque and Romanesque glass is presented. When the basilica of Saint-Sauveur in Limoges was consecrated in 830, there was a great window behind the altar. Excavations on the site have found fragments of glass that may be of sixth-century date or earlier.

Two Cistercian abbeys, Aubazine and Bonlieu, provide the earliest extant windows and also important evidence for the development of grisaille glazing in France. From the latter only a single panel of colourless grisaille glass is extant, now at Champs-sur-Marne. It is dated to after 1163. Four panels of similar glass at Aubazine of c.1175 also follow the Cistercian statutes ordering that windows should be made of white glass with no imagery.

Nothing remains in the Limousin of coloured and figured thirteenth-century windows, although lost glass is recorded in some important buildings. The huge monastic church at Grandmont, consecrated in 1166, had twenty-two coloured windows, of which five were devoted to characters from the Old and New Testaments. Some of them at least were made after 1200. The gigantic abbey of Saint-Martial at Limoges had at least one window before 1215. Lost glass of this date is also known in some lesser buildings.

The craft of glass-painting was already established in Limoges in the thirteenth century. In Limoges Cathedral there are traces of their work of c.1300 in a few windows at the east end and in the north transept. The authors suggest that the axis window probably had full-colour narrative glazing, with perhaps grisaille glass in the side windows. Of the upper choir windows four figures of Apostles (now moved) survive set in architectural niches with counterchanged coloured backgrounds. In situ glass in the axis window has an Annunciation surmounted by a Crucifixion and to the left St Valérie presenting her severed head to St Martial. This is sufficient to allow a reconstruction of the design of the high choir windows, with full-colour figures under canopies and grisaille above and below; in the four-light windows, there was just grisaille in the outer lights. This arrangement is an important development in the history of stained glass. Several other heavily restored windows in the cathedral have a little glass of this period, but from the second half of the century only records of a few lost windows survive, apart from the fine but damaged Adoration of the Magi at Aulne of c.1400.

Fifteenth-century Glass in the Limousin

The story of Limousin glazing becomes more substantial from the middle of the fifteenth century, when the end of war with England allowed reconstruction to take place. The church of Saint-Michel-des-Lions in Limoges has large important windows with in situ lives of the Virgin, to the south of the axis window, and of St John the Baptist, to the north, both dating from c.1455. The densely peopled scenes here remind one of medieval drama, but also of some contemporary manuscripts.

The former collegiate church of Eymoutiers was already an important religious centre in the thirteenth century. The eastern end was rebuilt from 1451 and has fourteen windows dating to the second half of the fifteenth century, still almost complete and the most important collection in the region. The series of windows, predominantly in white glass with silver stain, is at first sight homogenous, but has nevertheless many anomalies. A dozen of the windows have large figures at the base in niches with large canopies. The master mason, Jacques Michel, was brought in from Limoges, and it may be supposed that the glaziers also came from outside.

The majority of the windows at Eymoutiers were made before those of the apsidal ending, perhaps before 1470 on the north side. Part of the funding was from Louis XI, who took a personal interest in Eymoutiers. The window founded by the guild of Saint-Psalmet above the altar to that saint is clearly before 1475 and shows Louis XI and the Comte de la Marche as members of the guild. The five windows of the apse, more than ten metres high, are more densely coloured and of higher quality, based on excellent cartoons. That to the left of the axis window has the portrait of one of the two bishops, Bathon de Montbas, who were appointed to Limoges in 1485. All five windows are by the same workshop and may all have been given by the bishop c.1470–80.

The Romanesque abbey church at Solignac to the south of Limoges has parts of several windows from this period. Abbot Martial de Bony of Lavergne (d.1484), elected in 1451, undertook a major restoration campaign, including new windows in the church, with one having his donor portrait. Royal heraldry in the glass recalled previous royal favours, as does a surviving figure of St Louis praying before the Virgin. Abbot Archambault de Comborn continued the work in 1485 with figures of a bishop saint and St Catherine and somewhat later windows, including six small scenes in niches comparable to the choir windows at Saint-Michel-des-Lion in Limoges. These are the remains of an important campaign, some of which was recorded in the seventeenth century. The glass included the founder presenting his monks to King Dagobert and several saints whose relics the abbey owned. At the end of the century at least four more windows were made, all in very disparate styles. One is of high quality, painted from cartoons by a good painter from Bourges or the Loire Valley. The north rose has an elegant Crucifixion, and fragments of an Annunciation are again different. The centres of production in the Limousin at this time are hard to pin down; if all these windows were made in Limoges, there were clearly many different workshops there.

Sixteenth-century Glass in the Limousin

The variety of execution and style seen in the fifteenth century continues into the next. In the small castle chapel, now the parish church, at Magnac-Bourg, the choir windows were probably the gift of Jean de Salagnac (d.1514) and date from c.1510–20. The three windows at the east end have martyrs and confessors with the twelve Apostles painted in a strongly characterized style, with sharp faces, energetic poses, and rich draperies. They stand in niches with the scalloped vaults particularly common in early sixteenth-century Limousin glass. The same glass-painter also executed two windows in the church of Saint-Pierre at Panazol. Four scenes survive, two from a life of St John the Baptist, perhaps from the axis window, and the others, a Nativity and angels with heraldry, from an Infancy of Christ cycle. The two windows are in the same style of painting, but with very different models.

The window of the Dormition and Coronation of the Virgin in the south aisle of the church of Saint-Pierre-du-Queyrois at Limoges is exceptional and one of the major works of the region. It has been wrongly linked with the Pénicauds, the famous Limoges enamellers; guild rules at this time did not allow for the mixing of crafts. Nothing is known of the genesis of the window and its date is not certain, possibly c.1500–1510. It employs many technical devices, and the artist had complete mastery of chemical and mechanical engraving of glass, drilled insertions, yellow stain, and very elaborate damask patterns. The style however finds no comparisons in France. The Italianate aspects suggest that the cartoons used drawings from that country, but it may still be local work.

The church of Saint-Michel-des-Lions in Limoges received several stained-glass windows at the beginning of the sixteenth century. A work of great delicacy but with badly worn paint survives in part in the north choir chapel, depicting St Leonard and St Michael. A much-admired Crucifixion formerly in the main window of the façade has disappeared.

The Crucifixion still at Saint-Pierre-de-Fursac is clearly also from Limoges. The now fragmentary window, perhaps before 1510, is still in the chapel of the lords of Chabannes.

The small square early sixteenth-century panels from Saint-Symphorien-sur-Couze are in the format and technique of domestic glass and are now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Limoges.

In the parish of Saint-Michel-de-Veisse the east end window of the little pilgrimage chapel of Notre-Dame de la Borne has a splendid Jesse dated 1522. The donor, the monk François de Viersac, is shown with St Francis. This is a dated example of an established workshop that would otherwise be difficult to locate.

Heraldry of before 1530 is still in one of the high choir windows at Limoges Cathedral, including the arms of Bishop Charles de Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, who took possession of the see in 1522. He completed the fourteenth-century windows of the apse, which had probably become defective, and placed six large figures there: Moses and Christ with the cross of the Resurrection, and four prophets. These figures were removed in 1865.

The same bishop provided a window in one of the four nave chapels built c.1500 and decorated rather later. A few fragments survive in three traceries, but the windows were described in the eighteenth century. The bishop’s window had St Charlemagne and St Adrian. Another window had Emperor Charles V presenting him to the Virgin and Child. The large window in the north gable of Limoges Cathedral was doubtless glazed during his bishopric. This rose still retains most of its glass of c.1525, more than two hundred tiny seraphs around Christ, in many colours and made by many hands.

The east windows of two churches in Corrèze were blocked under the ancien régime to make way for large altarpieces. The glass of Saint-Cyr-la-Roche went to a side choir window and that of Notre-Dame de la Tourette at Ussel is kept on display on a wall, part of a large Crucifixion of just after 1500. The Crucifixion with many people and much detail dates from c.1530 and represents the last surviving evidence for the production of monumental stained glass in the sixteenth century in Limoges.

Of the glass in the Limousin made between the Wars of Religion and the Revolution almost nothing survives, except for a few fragments out of context in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Limoges and a panel of c.1600 of the Man of Sorrows rising from the tomb, which has been used to fill a gap at the top of a choir window at Eymoutiers. Other glass is recorded and the work of local glaziers at this time is seen in some restorations, but the craft skills for making windows were lost sooner in the Limousin than in provinces with more conservative traditions such as Brittany. From c.1600 onwards, the skills of glass-painting were all but forgotten.

Secular Glass

There is a brief section on what in England is termed domestic glass, but in France is described as civic glass, perhaps a better term, as it covers glass in secular public buildings, which can hardly be described as domestic. There are records including illustrations of some fascinating lost glass, but no original panels of this kind are extant. One misogynistic roundel depicted a woman preaching and was designed to mock the intellectual claims of the female sex.

Prosper Mérimée admired in Limoges in 1838 some beautiful glass-paintings in private collections and described what he had seen. Such collections are hard to reconstruct and provenances were not recorded. Some panels may have come to private collectors after being removed from churches during restorations, as there is evidence that in some cases much less glass was replaced than was initially removed. Other glass came to collections from outside the region. The church of Saint-Blaise at Nouailles received in 1937 two beautiful angels from one of the best workshops in Normandy of c.1530. At Limoges the Porcelain Museum has some fragments reputedly from Beauvais Cathedral. The castle of Nieul has twenty-seven panels of mainly Swiss Kabinettscheiben and Flemish roundels of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as two German or Austrian saints, one of the thirteenth and the other of the fifteenth century.

Stained Glass in the Limousin from the Nineteenth Century Onwards

The modern rebirth of interest in stained glass has left a considerable heritage in the three départements of this region. The taste for glass became evident just before 1850, at which time there was no regional enterprise capable of responding, a situation that lasted until Francis Chigot establish a workshop in Limoges just before the First World War. The immense demand for new windows was answered mainly by the great workshops at Clermont-Ferrand, but also by those in Bordeaux, Toulouse and Tours. Smaller workshops from other places occasionally executed windows. The two main workshops from Clermont were those of Étienne Thevenot and Émile Thibaud. Antoine Champrobert and Charles Henri Lagaye also provided windows.

The main campaign in this period was the restoration of Limoges Cathedral from 1858 until 1891. As Parisian restorers were well known to the inspectors of the Monuments historiques, they were the ones asked to restore the most precious old glass in the region. In 1849, Alphonse-Napoléon Didron, editor of the Annales archéologiques from 1843, opened an enterprise aiming at providing religious furnishings of all kinds, including windows, working with Thibaud. Félix Gaudin made several new windows in Haute-Vienne before the transfer of his workshop from Clermont-Ferrand to Paris, and the story of Limousin stained glass in the twentieth century opens with the work he did after moving to Paris. In 1903, he made thirteen windows for the new seminary chapel at Limoges and he restored the old glass at Saint-Cyr-al-Roche in 1915.

Francis Chigot was destined to play a major role for half a century. Born in Limoges and trained in Paris, he worked in glass from 1907 and opened a new studio near the cathedral in 1914, which remained immensely productive until his death in 1960. His work included many windows in the art nouveau and art déco styles. He also restored glass in the region and soon obtained commissions in other parts of the country and abroad.

Famous artists have been connected with more recent works. Chagall did his last work in this medium at the Chapelle du Saillant in Voutezac. The church of Nonards has had windows by Jean-Dominique Fleury since 1986. Two windows have been made for the twelfth-century church of Vieux Saint Hilaire in Saint-Hilaire-les-Places near Limoges by Léa Sham’s, one of the most original contemporary enamellers. Philippe Favier has made five windows for the small church of Saint-Martial de Jabreilles-les-Bordes. They are made of lithophanes, plaques of porcelain.

The Limousin catalogue follows the same lines as that for the Auvergne. The book concludes with an index of personal and place names and iconography; other topics are not covered.

David King


Comments are closed.