Original Stained Glass
Renaissance, Reformation and Classical windows
Probably the earliest scheme of stained glass windows that was created during the Renaissance was that for Florence Cathedral, devised by Lorenzo Ghiberti. The scheme includes three ocular windows for the dome and three for the facade which were designed from 1405-1445 by several of the most renowned artists of this period: Ghiberti, Donatello, Uccello and Andrea del Castagno. Each major ocular window contains a single picture drawn from the Life of Christ or the Life of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by a wide floral border, with two smaller facade windows by Ghiberti showing the martyred deacons, St Stephen and St Lawrence. One of the cupola windows has since been lost, and that by Donatello has lost nearly all of its painted details.
In Europe, stained glass continued to be produced with the style evolving from the Gothic to the Classical, which is well represented in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, despite the rise of Protestantism. In France, much glass of this period was produced at the Limoges factory, and in Italy at Murano, where stained glass and faceted lead crystal are often coupled together in the same window. Ultimately, the French Revolution brought about the neglect or destruction of many windows in France. At the Reformation, in England large numbers of Medieval and Renaissance windows were smashed and replaced with plain glass. The Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII and the injunctions of Oliver Cromwell against "abused images" (the object of veneration) resulted in the loss of thousands of windows. Few remain undamaged; of them the windows in the private chapel at Hengrave Hall in Suffolk are among the finest. With the latter wave of destruction the traditional methods of working with stained glass died and were not to be rediscovered in England until the early 19th century.
In the Netherlands a rare scheme of glass has remained intact at Grote Sint-Jan Church, Gouda. The windows, some of which are 60 feet high date from 1555 to the early 1600s, with the earliest being the work of Dirck Crabeth and his brother Wouter. Many of the original cartoons (drawings) still exist.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to experience blowing glass in the Murano factory in Venice, Italy.
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