- Stained Glass from Syon Abbey
- Important Stained Glass Sold at London Auction
- The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS): 9th Forum for the Conservation and Technology of Historic Stained Glass
- Arts and Crafts Stained Glass – A Short Film
- Icon Stained Glass Group AGM and Conference Working with the Evidence: Researching, Recording, Retaining, Removing Evidence of Earlier Intervention
- New Sam Fogg Website
- Jewels of Light: Creation, Preservation, Appreciation of Stained Glass
Stained Glass from Syon Abbey
An important new book has been published to coincide with the 600th anniversary of the founding of Syon Abbey, the only monastery of the Brigittine Order to be established in England before the Reformation and, by the time of its dissolution in 1539, the tenth wealthiest monastery in Henry VIII’s kingdom. It was also home to a famous library, which contained nearly 1,500 books.
Called England’s Last Medieval Monastery: Syon Abbey 1415–2015 and written by Dr Eddie Jones, Associate Professor of Medieval English Literature and Culture at the University of Exeter, the book provides a helpful backdrop to the discovery of more than a 1,000 fragments of medieval stained glass excavated in recent years by students from the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birbeck, University of London [fig. 1]. Some of the fragments retain painted decoration, including lettering, heads of angels or saints, and part of a Crucifixion scene. It is hoped that a report on these finds will be published in the near future [fig. 2].
The Brigittine Order was founded by St Bridget of Sweden in 1346, although it did not receive papal recognition until 1370. St Bridget claimed to have had conversations with Christ, known as her ‘Revelations’. Brigittine foundations were unusual in that they housed both women and men, who lived in separate cloisters. There was a shared church, but the nuns worshipped separately in a raised gallery. The Order at Syon was known as the ‘Order of St Saviour and St Bridget at Syon’, alluding to the ‘City of David which is Zion’ mentioned in the Bible (1 Kings VIII, 1), built on the eponymous Mount Zion. The abbey was founded in 1415 by Henry V, as part of an ambitious plan known as the ‘King’s Great Work’ to make his palace at Sheene, about nine miles south-west of Westminster on the River Thames, a major centre of Lancastrian influence, adjacent to three monastic foundations: the Carthusian monastery at Sheene itself, a Celestine monastery (a branch of the Benedictines, founded in 1244 and so named after the election of their founder to the papacy as Pope Celestine V (d.1296)), and the Brigittine abbey, on the opposite bank of the river [fig. 3].
Although most of the foundations of the abbey are now underground and below later buildings, archaeologists have estimated that its church would have been about the same size as Salisbury Cathedral, suggesting that only a tiny fraction of what might once have been some spectacular glazing schemes has survived the iconoclasm and subsequent demolition of the abbey buildings.
After the Dissolution, the abbey buildings were dismantled completely and the land given to the duke of Somerset, who built Syon House and gardens in the Italian Renaissance style. Syon later fell into the possession of Henry Percy, duke of Northumberland, and has stayed in his family since 1594. Today, the duke and duchess of Northumberland live in Syon House and it is open to visitors and events. The website for Syon Park includes photographs and a description of the house and a brief historical synopsis of the abbey after its dissolution.
Important Stained Glass Sold at London Auction
Stained glass from an important private collection of Gothic art in Switzerland attracted competitive bidding at Christie’s London saleroom on 8 July.
Three lots of stained glass were offered. The most important was an early fourteenth-century Austrian panel depicting St Christina measuring 80.5 x 37.7cm, which soared past its estimate of £10–15,000 to fetch £35,000. Some years ago, the stained-glass historian and Eva Frodl-Kraft (1916–2011), one of the founders of the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi, attributed the panel to a workshop in the Steiermark area of south-eastern Austria and dated it to c.1400–20 (Eva Frodl-Kraft, ‘Die Bildfenster der Waasenkirche in Leoben, Zur Restaurierung und Sicherung’, in: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Kunst und Denkmalpflege, 25, 1971, pp. 70–73). The same workshop provided similar windows for the Waasenkirche in Leoben, Austria (fig. 1). The panel had been acquired by the grandfather of the vendor in around 1960 from Sybille Kummer, an art dealer based in Zurich who specialized in stained glass.
The second lot consisted of two Austrian roundels showing seated Apostles, dated to 1420–50, again bought by the vendor’s grandfather from Sybille Kummer. The larger measured 30.8cm in diameter [fig. 2]. Once again there was fierce bidding, and the lot was sold for £27,500 (estimate £3,000–5,000). Although by a different hand to the St Christina panel and marginally later, the roundels showed many of the same stylistic characteristics as the earlier panel.
The third lot was a large framed panel (88 x 82cm overall) depicting Christ before Pontius Pilate and was described as French, probably from a Rouen workshop, c.1520–40. It sold for £10,000 (pre-sale estimate of £4,000–6,000) (fig. 3). Christie’s cited P. Williamson, Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2003, nos. 95 and 99 for comparative examples.
Vidimus is grateful to Christie’s for providing the images for this article.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS): 9th Forum for the Conservation and Technology of Historic Stained Glass
Review by Katie Harrison
The International Council on Monuments and Sites’ (ICOMOS) 9th Forum for the Conservation and Technology of Historic Stained Glass was held in Paris 8–10 July. The forum, Stained-glass: How to Take Care of a Fragile Heritage?, drew speakers and delegates from across the world, with a stimulating combination of two days of lectures followed by visits to the Chagall, Soulages, Benzaken … Le vitrail contemporain exhibition at Cité de l’architecture et du Patrimoine, the Sainte Chapelle, and a selection of Parisian churches with notable stained glass.
The first day was dedicated to papers focusing upon the maintenance of stained glass as part of its long-term conservation. In the keynote lecture, Michel Hérold, Director of the French Corpus Vitrearum, stressed the interdisciplinary nature of the study and conservation of stained glass and drew attention to the need to engage with other professionals across disciplines. Hérold highlighted recent work by the French Ministry of Culture to investigate ways of engaging and educating the general public and called for greater efforts to provide information on stained glass and its conservation in simple and easily understandable formats.
The speakers who followed Hérold discussed the role of maintenance as part of long-term programmes for the conservation of stained glass within architectural contexts. Silvia Cañellas (Professor, Torrelles del Llobregat), having presented research into medieval maintenance in Catalonia, observed that many buildings would benefit from comparable approaches to regular maintenance. Many speakers raised questions regarding the distinction between maintenance and conservation, as well as the types of treatments that can be applied in situ. Several, including Raphaëlle Chossenot (Ingénieure d’études en sources anciennes, CNRS Université, Paris), Jessica Degain (Conservatrice du Patrimoine, Direction des Affaires Culturelles de la Ville de Paris), Nancy Georgi (Stained Glass Conservator, York Glaziers Trust), Drew Anderson (Conservator, Metropolitan Museum of Art), and Jean Parker Phifer (Consulting Restoration Architect), demonstrated the importance of careful preliminary research and condition assessment prior to the development of maintenance and conservation treatments. Similarly, Annick Textier (Researcher at the Laboratoire de recherche des monuments historiques (LRMH)), presented valuable insights into the importance of selecting the most appropriate maintenance programme and conservation treatment for ferramenta.
The round-table session on maintenance, which followed the first day’s lectures, encouraged a lively discussion of the issues raised by the speakers. These debates continued in the question sessions of the lectures presented on the second day, which was divided into two sessions on new developments and case studies. Two case studies of the conservation of relocated Flemish glass, presented by Keith Barley MBE (Director of Barley Studios), and Aletta Rambaut (independent conservator and art historian) and Marc Vanderauwera (engineer architect, Studio Roma), were of particular interest in demonstrating the range of challenges presented by relocated glass, as well as the benefits of minimally interventive approaches to conservation.
Alongside the significant technical developments presented by Reiner Meindl (President of Glashütte Lamberts) and Christa Heidrich (Conservator, Glasmalerei Peters), several speakers demonstrated the benefits of employing digital technologies in stained-glass conservation. Nick Teed (Senior Conservator, York Glaziers Trust) stressed the importance of employing a standardized procedure for photographic documentation and highlighted the benefits to documentation and future conservation, as well as the potential of future technological developments. Similarly, Léonie Seliger (Director of Stained Glass Conservation at Canterbury Cathedral) and Virginia Raguin (Distinguished Professor of Humanities, College of the Holy Cross) demonstrated the value of digital reconstructions of lost painted details, both as records and as alternatives to physical reconstructions.
A further session of work by recent students presented insights into the issues faced when conserving nineteenth- and twentieth-century glass, as well as how best to approach the relocation of stained glass in a sustainable manner. The focus on more recent glass was particularly pertinent given Hérold’s announcement of the intention to include more recent glass within the remit of the Corpus Vitrearum, and provided another dimension to the discussions at the visit to the Chagall, Soulages, Benzaken … Le vitrail contemporain exhibition, which presented a rare opportunity to see test panels and developmental material from ground-breaking twentieth-century stained-glass installations. Thanks and congratulations are due to the many members of ICOMOS France who ensured the success of this stimulating and thought-provoking conference. Many delegates are already looking forward to the next meeting at the 10th Forum.
Arts and Crafts Stained Glass – A Short Film
To celebrate the publication of Peter Cormack’s Arts and Crafts Stained Glass (see Vidimus 92), a short film has been produced by Yale University Press. The film follows Cormack as he explores the art of stained glass, from the treasures hidden inside a London church to the work of contemporary stained glass artists in their workshops. The film can be viewed on the Yale University Press website, or on their Youtube channel.
Icon Stained Glass Group AGM and Conference Working with the Evidence: Researching, Recording, Retaining, Removing Evidence of Earlier Intervention
17–18 September 2015, The Burrell Collection, Glasgow
Almost all stained-glass panels bear evidence of alteration, restoration and earlier intervention. The careful observation, recording and interpretation through research of these layers of history is integral to the work of the conservator. The implications of these observations for future treatment and preventive conservation can often, however, be far from straightforward. Understanding the composition and nature of potentially damaging additions is essential to the evaluation of a conservation methodology, while explaining the historical context of alteration and repair can be the key to public enjoyment of a much-restored window. The keynote speaker Marie Stumpff ACR will present the Boppard project, and other confirmed speakers include Oliver Fearon, Megan Stacey, and Rachel Thomas ACR.
Registration for the Icon Stained Glass group conference is now open (and includes spaces for non-members). To register, please go to the Eventbrite page. Registration price covers tea/coffee (x3) lunches (x2), conference dinner, tour of the Burrell Collection (Thursday), and coach tour (Friday PM). Further enquiries should be directed to Conference Secretaries Katie Harrison and Megan Stacey.
New Sam Fogg Website
The London-based medieval art dealer Sam Fogg has a new website. It features images of a variety of stained-glass panels from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, including roundels and single figures. Particularly notable are three panels of c.1530 from the Temple Church in Paris attributed to Jean Chastelain.
Jewels of Light: Creation, Preservation, Appreciation of Stained Glass
Elizabeth Dent, who holds an MA in Stained Glass Conservation & Heritage Management from the University of York, where she was a Samuel H. Kress Fellow, and now works within the Office of the Director at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, reviews the International Symposium on Technical Aspects of Stained Glass, held at Washington National Cathedral, Washington DC, 19–20 June 2015.
On 19–20 June, Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC hosted an international symposium on the technical aspects of stained glass, organized by the Association for Preservation Technology. Featuring speakers from Canada, the UK, and the USA, the symposium covered a wide range of issues related to the conservation and understanding of stained glass. A round-table discussion on stained glass standards led to important initial decisions regarding guidelines and accreditations for American conservators, and marked a shift towards raising the profile of the medium in the USA and reconsidering its conservation within the broader context of historic preservation.
The symposium opened with an introduction to Washington National Cathedral by James Shepherd, Director of Preservation and Facilities. Shepherd provided a history of the cathedral, and focused on the ongoing campaign to repair extensive damage caused by the 2011 Washington earthquake, including stained-glass projects. He emphasized the importance of educating repair and maintenance workers, citing the positive effects visible among staff that underwent an educational course on the history and significance of the cathedral and its fabric. This focus on education and collaboration amongst the various groups responsible for the care and treatment of stained glass was a recurring theme throughout the symposium.
Sarah Brown (Director of the York Glaziers Trust and course director of the MA in Stained Glass Conservation & Heritage Management at the University of York) was a keynote speaker. Brown provided a European perspective on stained-glass repair and conservation practices from the twelfth century to the present. This extensive overview was of particular interest to the audience, as the management of North America’s stained glass heritage is a comparatively recent discipline. In tracing stained-glass repair through the centuries, Brown discussed the development of conservation theory and ethics, which led to the need for a code of practice. She detailed the post-Second World War period, with the creation of the Corpus Vitrearum, and the important milestones in CVMA research, including the development of its guidelines, knowledge of the impact of environmental factors on stained glass, and effective isothermal glazing, a practice that was an important focus of the symposium.
A detailed overview of isothermal glazing was provided by Arthur Femenella Jr (of Femenella & Associates), with special reference to his stained-glass conservation project at the nineteenth-century Old South Church in Boston. The implementation of isothermal glazing at the church allowed historic lead networks to be retained and the glass to be protected for the future. With the concept of isothermal glazing remaining less known in the USA, Femenella’s presentation left the audience with a clear understanding of the advantages of protective isothermal-glazing systems, underscoring the need to further raise awareness.
Isothermal glazing is a cause for which the second keynote speaker, Keith Barley MBE (of Barley Studios) is a leader in the British conservation community. Barley spoke of his decades of research on isothermal glazing, and stressed that it is a practical system that can be implemented by all glaziers – an important consideration for the symposium audience. Barley addressed the importance of isothermal glazing, which allows conservators to retain historic lead, and protect glass from damaging external factors, condensation, and moisture. He discussed the implementation of isothermal glazing in his recently completed conservation of the sixteenth-century Herkenrode glazing at Lichfield Cathedral, and shared innovative techniques employed in the project, including cold painting on the reverse side of original glass and the reduction of mending leads without their removal. These new techniques were explored with success in the project, while maintaining minimum intervention in the treatment of this important sixteenth-century glass.
New technologies employed in the conservation of stained glass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City were presented by Jean Parker Phifer (Consulting Restoration Architect to Murphy Burnham & Buttrick) and Drew Anderson (Conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). An innovative approach to the surveying and documentation of this nineteenth-century glazing scheme was undertaken for the project, with the use of the BIM360 Field program on iPads. Photographs of the windows were uploaded onto iPads in advance, allowing for the glass to be surveyed with the image on the screen, and digital annotations and markings of condition made on site, directly on the image. After surveying the glass, necessary in situ and studio conservation work was carried out by Botti Studios, and the BIM 360 database updated to reflect completed work. Because the cathedral featured an early example of unvented protective glazing, a process of isothermal venting, in which targeted pieces of glass were removed and reinserted as baffles, was undertaken, allowing for the circulation of air in the interspace. The presentation demonstrated the important role technology can play in stained-glass conservation, and the positive results of strong collaboration between architects and conservators.
The round-table discussion, moderated by Arthur Femenella Sr (of Femenella & Associates), Stephen Hartley (of Savannah Technical College), Keith Barley, Sarah Brown, and James Shepherd, resulted in a lively and productive debate over standards, guidelines, and accreditation processes for stained-glass conservation in the USA. The outcomes of the discussion were that the CVMA guidelines were sufficient, that they lack marketing and distribution within the USA stained-glass community, and that awareness must be raised in the future. It was also accepted that an accreditation process for stained-glass conservators in the USA should be developed, and that initial steps towards this must be taken.
Ultimately, it is clear that more progress remains to be made in the development of stained-glass conservation in the USA. Initial steps towards standardization and accreditation have begun, thanks to developments at the round-table discussion. The well-attended symposium audience was composed of conservators, architects, historic preservationists, artists, and custodians. The presence of this multitude of disciplines demonstrated an encouraging level of interest that will hopefully lead to collaboration, and continued appreciation and understanding of stained glass and the unique conservation challenges it presents.
Additional topics included the conservation challenges of dalle de verre windows (Mark Rabinowitz of Conservation Solutions, Inc., and Wes Haynes of Fish Church Conservancy); lighting design and architectural stained glass (Conor Sampson of CSDesign); the conservation of lay lights at the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Library (Katie Irwin of Quinn Evan Architects and Nathan Hicks of Silman); the restoration of a medieval French stained-glass panel from the Baltimore Museum of Art (Mary Clerkin Higgins of Clerkin Higgins Stained Glass); and stained-glass conservation projects at the Library of Congress (James Zeeck of the Architect of the Capitol) and the House of Commons in Ottawa (James Maddigan of Robertson Martin Architects). The symposium concluded with site visits to the Library of Congress, the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the National Presbyterian Church.
The symposium was sponsored by the Association for Preservation Technology International; the American Glass Guild; Washington National Cathedral; the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training; the Association for Preservation Technology, Washington DC Chapter; and the Association for Preservation Technology, New England Chapter.
Thanks are due to Catherine Williams, MA, for her assistance in the preparation of this review