Charles Winston.

An inquiry into the difference of style observable in ancient glass paintings, especially in England : with hints on glass painting online

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Online LibraryCharles WinstonAn inquiry into the difference of style observable in ancient glass paintings, especially in England : with hints on glass painting → online text (page 7 of 35)
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originals of which no longer exist, are are there (p. 44) conjectured to be ves-

given in Mont&ucon, ** Les Monumens sels of the crusaders drawn upon the

de la Monarchic Fran9aise," torn. i. shore, amounted, I suspect, in the ori-

plates L, LI, LII, LIII, and LIV, but ginal glass, to nothing more than a con-

they are unfortunately so incorrectly ventional representation of the turf or

drawn, aa to be of no further use to the ground beneath the combatants' feet. A


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It is the smallness of the figures and ornaments in
medallion windows, and the consequent minuteness of the
various pieces of glass, that, coupled with the strength of
the outlines, gives to these works that highly mosaic appear-
ance, which, as before remarked, has often occasioned them
to be likened to a rich Turkey carpet.

The figures in the panels are, however, always rendered
the most conspicuous objects in the design, partly by their
colouring, but principally by their being drawn much larger
than any of the surrounding ornaments. The main divisions
of the composition, the panels, and border of the window,
are distinctly marked by their respective edgings, even when
their ground colours are alike : and the coloured grounds
have the effect of giving breadth and harmony to the
design, and are useful in counteracting the spotty appear-
ance which would otherwise be occasioned by the variegated
tints of the ornaments and figures.

I should here add, that though the ground'^ colour of
the panels, border, and interstices between the panels is
often alike, red, or deep blue, it not unfrequently happens
that deep blue is the ground colour of the panels, and light
blue, or red, that of the rest of the window ; or that red is
the ground colour of the panels and border, and deep blue
that of the rest of the window.

8. Canopies.

These are simple in design, and small, compared with
the figures they cover. In form they closely resemble those
met with on the tombs and seals of this period. A represen-
tation of a mutilated specimen is given in the third plate
of this work, and others are to be found in the " Mono-

variety of other medallions of later date tevrie's ** Histoire de la Peinture sor
are engraved in the " Monographie de verre." See also the second plate of the
la Cath^diale de Bourges/' and in Las- present work.

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graphic de la Cathedrale de Bourges," and M. Lasteyrie's
" ffistory of Glass Painting."

The crown of the canopy is low, and usually consists of
a pointed gable, either plain, or crocketed, surmounting a
semicircular or trefoiled arch, which just clears the head of
the figure, and springs from the capital of a slender shaft
on either side of the canopy. The sides of the roofs of
two other gables placed at right angles to that in front, are
also very commonly represented, and the whole is often sur-
mounted with a number of little domes or turrets, having
apparently but little connection with the rest of the design.
Sometimes however the arch is dispensed with, the opening
being terminated simply by the lines of the gable. Some-
times the gable is omitted, small roofs, turrets, andjdomes,
being heaped together above the arch. The canopy appears
like a flat surface ; no attempt being made to represent the
hoUowness of a niche, either by the drawing or shading.
The diifferent parts of the canopy are variously coloured, and
are frequently shaded with smear shading.

The intervening space between the inside of the arch
and side shafts, and the figure, is filled with a plain ground,
ahnost always of colour, and of a difierent tint to the
ground which surrounds the head of the canopy. The
canopy generally terminates abruptly at bottom in- a
horizontal line; upon which the feet of the figure often
appear to rest, though the toes sometimes project a little
below it. The figure however not unfrequently stands
upon a piece of turf or grass. The name of the personage
represented is generally written in large characters in a
straight line, beneath its feet, or within the arch, level with
the shoulders ; but sometimes on a flowing scroll held in
the hand.

Plate 6. of this work represents what may be considered
an early instance of the introduction of a small canopy into

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the middle of a pattern window, (a practice which so gene^
rally obtained in the succeeding style,) though the ornament
which surrounds the figure is perhaps more strictly a tre-
foil-headed panel than a canopy*'.

The figures in large figure and canopy windows, occupy-
ing positions at a considerable distance above the eye,
as the windows of a clearstory, are often exaggerated in
height, in order to coimteract the shortening effect of

9. Heraldry.

Heraldic achievements at this period were confined to the
shield of arms alone, without any other addition. The
shield is invariably of the heater form, and the more elon-
gated in proportion to its antiquity. The charges on it
are always very simple. Its field is not diapered, but the
glass composing it is left quite plain.

10. Mechanical construction.

Coloured Early English windows, owing to the mosaic
and broken nature of their colouring, and the employment
of a separate piece of glass for each individud colour,
al:ways contain a vast quantity of lead-work. In pictures, and
coloured ornaments, the leads are scarcely perceptible, being
in general thrown into the outlines. In white pattern
windows, the leads, when incapable of being brought into
the design, are made to take such curves amongst the

c The subject of plate 6 was copied in the windows of the first triplet on the
about three years ago from the glass in north side, and also of the triplet on the
the westernmost light of the second trip- south side, opposite Uie window contain-
let of lancets, counting from the east, ing the canopy. The eastern triplet con-
on the north side of the chancel of Stan- tained no painted glass. I have but
ton Harcourt church, Oxon. Below the little doubt that all the glass in this
canopy was one panel more of the same chancel was originally of the same cha-
white pattern as is represented in the racter, but I cannot say whether there
plate, in a nearly perfect state. Frag- was a double, or only a single tier of
ments of similar patterns were to be seen canopies crossing the light

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foliaged scroll-work, as to cause their presence frequently
to pass unnoticed**.

In all except medallion windows, the glass is formed
into rectangular glazing panels, of convenient length and
size, which are attached in the usual way to the saddle bars
passing horizontally across the hght.

In medallion windows, an iron framework, taking the
form of the principal medallions, is firmly fixed in the
sides of the window, and is in some cases strengthened
by a second frame-work, of a similar shape, in like manner
inserted in the stone-work, and placed at the distance of
a foot or two from the first, with which it is connected
by a number of short bars, perpendicular to the plane
of each frame-work«. The glazing panels of the window,
which coincide in form with the panels themselves, or their
principal divisions, are each often surrounded with a flat
iron rim. Straight iron bars attached to this rim afford
a support to the glass, which is fastened to them by
leaden bands, and the whole panel is secured in its place
by bolts passing through the rim to the iron frame-work.
Sometimes however the iron rim is dispensed with, in
which case the straight iron bars are attached to the frame-
work itself, and the glass is bound to them with leaden
bands, as before mentioned. The iron of which the fixed
framework is made, is often two inches wide, and one inch
thick, and sometimes of greater substance. Its broadest
surface being in the same, plane with the glass, serves
by its opacity to render the pictorial divisions of the window
more distinct.

The existence of a fixed iron frame-work in an Early
English window, is unfortunately too often the only evi-
dence of its having once been a medallion window : but

* The lead- work in plate 6 deserves * Some of these douhle frame- works

attention. still exist at Canterbury cathedral.

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the particulax arrangement of the design should not be
too hastily inferred from the form of the iron-work,
which, in general, can be said to indicate only the main
divisions of the glass painting'.

In the wheel windows at the south end of the transept
of Strasburg cathedral, and in the west end of the nave
of St. Thomas's church in that city, stone tracery, of the
Flamboyant period, has been substituted for the original
iron frame- work; the ancient medallion glass paintings
still being retained in these windows.

11. Letters.

The letters used in Early English inscriptions are those
known by the name of "Lombardic capitals." Instances
are given in plates 2 and 6. An inscription was
generally formed by covering a piece of glass with a coat
of enamel brown, out of which the letters were afterwards
scraped. In inscriptions of large size, the letters are some-
times cut out of white or yellow glass, and leaded into a
coloured ground.



This style appears to have prevailed about one hundred
years, viz., from 1280 to 1380.

One of its most distinctive features is the natural form
of its foliaged ornaments : in these the leaves of the ivy,
maple, oak, and other trees and plants may be easily

These more exact imitations of nature were rather spa-

^ The form of the iron-work in some cathedral is g^ren in the engravings to
of the principal windows of Canterbury Britton's history of that edifice.

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ringly used at the commencement of the style, and did not,
at least in white patterns, wholly supersede the older and
more conventional forms until the end of the reign of
Edward I., or a little after.

It is principally in works executed between 1280, and
the end of the reign of Edward I., that the test of style
afforded by the presence of the naturally formed leaf is
most valuable ; for they bear in general so close a resem-
blance in other respects to the later Early English glass
paintings, that without this mark it would be difficult in
many cases satisfactorily to distinguish them from each
other «.

This resemblance principally arises from the early Deco-
rated glass paintings being composed of glass of the same
texture as the later Early English glass paintings. Hence
the general appearance of early Decorated coloured windows
though extremely rich, is by no means gay; and that of
white windows is grey and cold. The grandeur of each
sort is enhanced by the great width sometimes given to
the lower lights of early Decorated windows ^.

Towards the end of the reign of Edward I., and after-
wards, many other points of difference between the two
styles are observable; amongst which should be particu-
larly noticed the employment of the yellow stain, which
seems to have been introduced soon after the commence-
ment of the fourteenth century. The colour thus produced
is in general easily distinguishable by its lemon-like tint,

t The glass represented in plate 8, ^ The lower lights of the side windows
must be classed as early Decorated, — of the chancel of Norbury church, Derby-
though taken by itself it presents none shire, are each thirty inches wide ; the
but Early English features, — for the central light of the east window is forty-
Decorated foHage occurs in other parts of four inches wide, the two adjacent lights
the same window. The arms are those of being each thirty-four, and the two outer
Margaret of France, the second queen of lights thirty-one inches wide.
Edward I. In plate 10, it will be observed For tbese measurements I am indebted
that the Decorated foliage is introduced to my friend the Rev. H. T. Ellacombe.
in the outennost border of the light.

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from the more intense and golden pot-metal yellows, Jxj
which it affords an agreeable contrast. In many instances,
however, especially during the latter part of the reign of
Edward III., the stained yellow is almost as deep as the
pot-metal yellow. Its facility of application soon brought
it into general use *. By its means the former coldness of
white pattern windows was speedily corrected, and artists
soon discovered in the richness and power of the stain an
efficient substitute for many of the pot-metal coloiu^. Thus
a broader and less mosaic style of colouring was gradually
introduced, white and yellow glass entering more largely
into the composition of coloured designs. The presence of
so much yellow had also the eflFect of imparting to the later
Decorated glass paintings a gay and lively appearance.

The arrangements of this period are very various, in
regard both to individual windows, and their general dis-
position in a building.

The most common windows are those which are either
wholly composed of white patterns, or of an intermixture of
white patterns and coloured pictures.

A white pattern window generally has a coloured border to
each of its lower lights, which sometimes returns along the
bottom of the window. The patterns until the end of the
reign of Edward I., are in general hardly distinguishable from
the Early English ; like them they are principally composed
of white glass, and consist of scroll-works of foliage confined
within panels, or of ornamented quarries, resembling the
Early English in form and character. The drawing, how-
ever, is generally slighter than the Early English, and the
ground of the pattern is rarely cross-hatched ^. After this
time, and even a little before it, the patterns consist either

^ The yellow stain is represented in amongst the Perpendicular examples,
plates 14, 47, and 65, which last plate, ^ See plates 8 and 10. See also

by a mistake of mine, has been placed cut 10.

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of flowing tendril-like scroUages, bearing natural leaves,
and overlaid by a geometrical network of bands and fillets,
which however does not confine the ramifications of the
foliage ' : or else of ornamented quarries. The earlier pat-
terns are often enriched by the introduction of some colour
into the bands and fillets, and by a few little coloured orna-
ments inserted in them at distant intervals ; the later, prin-
cipally by staining certain portions of the white glass yellow.

When the lower lights are much enriched with colour,
the tracery lights are sometimes filled with coloured pic-
tures, or ornaments : but they more commonly contain a
white pattern, enriched with colour to a similar extent as
that in the lower lights. In the earlier windows it is not
unusual to find the pattern in the tracery lights Early
English in character, while that in the lower hghts is of
pure Decorated character °*.

A single shield of arms, near the top of each of the
lower lights, is often the only extraneous subject intro-
duced into pattern windows. The most ordinary mode of
introducing pictures into them, is by inserting, in the middle
of each of the lower lights, a low-crowned canopy, covering
a figure, or a group of figures ; which produces the general
effect of a belt of colour running across the window. Some-
times, when the length of the lights admits of it, two such
belts of canopies are introduced, leaving considerable por-
tions of the white patterns displayed between, above, and
below theuL A shield of arms enclosed in a panel, or
small coloured ornament, usually occupies the centre of

* See plate 11. See also Lysons* LXXXVIII, L, XCII. A pattern from

** Derbyshire," p. 221, where an engrav- the same place is 'engraved in Shaw's

u^ is given of three Decorated patterns *' £ncyc]op»dia of Ornament"
from the chancel of Norbury church, "* See for instance, a plate (rather in-

Derbyshire. See also engravings of some correct in its details) of part of the south

of the patterns from the chapter-house, window of the chancel of Trumpington

York, in Browne's ** Hist of the Metro- church, in Ly sons' " Cambridgeshire,"

politan Church of St Peter, York." pt 38.

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each of these intervals. The head of the window, wlien
two or more belts of canopies cross the lower lights, is in
general filled with coloured subjects, in order to preserve
the balance of colour ; but it is oftener filled with a white
pattern, when only one belt of canopies traverses the lower

Another, but by no means so common a mode of intro-
ducing pictures, — ^the practice being mostly confined to
early examples, — consists in the insertion at regular inter-
vals in each of the lower lights, of panels containing
coloured pictures ; the ground of the lights being a white

There are numerous modifications and varieties of each
of the above-mentioned arrangements.

Some earlv Decorated windows have the whole of their
lower lights entirely filled with simple panels containing
pictures «> ; others, at aU periods of the style, with a series
of small canopies with single figures, or groups of figures
beneath them, piled up closely one above the other:
coloured subjects in either case being placed in the tracery
lights. The specimens of the first arrangement, and the
earlier examples of the last, closely resemble the Early
English medallion windows, in depth of colour and general
effect : but in the later instances of the last arrangement, the
masses of deep colour are separated by the heads of the
canopies, which being principally composed of white and
yellow glass, impart a general lightness to the whole design.

Figure and canopy mndows'' are not in general met with
in this country before the middle of the style. In small
windows, the whole of each of the lower lights is some-
times filled up with the subject; but the canopy usually

■ See an example, *' Monographie de canopy window, Lysons' " Gloucester*
la Cathfidrale de Bourges," Etude XIV. shire," plate LXVI.
^ See an engraving of a figure and

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does not reach quite down to the bottom of the light, leav-
ing a space beneath, which is filled either by a small pic-
ture, or a pattern''. This is especially the case with votive
windows, the portraits of the donor and his family occupy-
ing the space below the principal figure"*. In some in-
stances, several panels containing coloured pictures are
placed one above the other and inserted beneath the base of
the large canopy. Other vnndows have each of their lower
lights quite filled up with alternate tiers of canopies con-
taining large figures, and panels containing small subjects,
placed one above the other. The tracery lights of the
above-mentioned windows are generally filled with coloured

The effect of a Decorated figure and canopy window,
though very rich, is on the whole lighter than that of an
Early EngUsh one. The canopy resembles in form those
in the architecture and sculpture of the time'. It is tall
in proportion to the figure it covers. In general many of
its members are variously coloured, but white and yellow
glass, both stained and pot-metal, are chiefly employed,
especially in the spires and crockets.

The principle of extending the same design (not being
a Jesse) into all or several of the lower lights of a window,
'which was so commonly done in the succeeding style, was
introduced on the continent very early in this style.

The usual mode of carrying it into execution, is by placing
at the bottom of the lower hghts a grand architectural
composition, consisting of a large canopy in the centre,

9 Some of the patterns at the bottom ' See plate 12. See also Lysons'
of the lower lighu of the east window, " Gloucestershire," plate LXVI. A re-
York minster, are engraved in Weale's presentation of one of these figures, and
*• Quarterly Papers," vol. L plates 7, 8, part of one of the canopies, is given in
and 9. Shaw's ** Dresses and Decorations of the

^ See a plate of some glass in the east middle agefs" vol. L See also Lasteyrie,

window of Beer Ferrers church, Devon, " Hist de la Peinture sur verre," plates

in Lysons' ** Devonshire." XXXVIII, XL, and XLIIL

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(often extending into two or three lights,) flanked by
smaller ones, in the manner of a iriptic. The principal
subject is represented under the central canopy, and other
subjects, in general accessory to it, under the side canopies.
The spires of the canopies, backed with a coloured ground,
reach some way up the lower lights : a white pattern is
usually shewn above them, and the head of the window
is filled with coloured ornaments to balance the mass of
colour below.

In some cases two tiers of canopies are thus introduced,
the upper ones only terminating in spires.

In this manner' designs are represented on a superior
scale to that permitted by the usual method. In England
the same design is often spread over the whole of the
tracery lights of a window; and it is probable that ex-
amples may be found of a similar arrangement in respect
of the lower lights.

Jesse windows. In these windows are displayed some
of the most beautiftd designs of this period. The lower
lights are usually surrounded with a border, and filled
with a series of oval panels, formed by the branches of a
vine. Each panel contains a figure on a coloured ground,
usually of a difierent colour to the ground outside the panel,
upon which outer ground the side leaves and branches of
the vine are spread. The same principle of decoration
usually extends to the tracery lights : the most important
of which contain figures, or heads, within detached oval
or circular panels, formed by a vine-branch, the leaves of
which are turned outwards*.

• A more decided instance of the picture, wbich is cut most completely

adoption of a design not conforming to by the mullioni of the window. Ex-

the architectural divisions of the window, amples of this arrangement may be seen

is furnished by those foreign windows at St. Thomas's church, Stiasburg, and

in whose lower lighU are placed large in the south aisle of the naTe of Munich

circular panels, extending into more cathedral &c
than one light, and containmg one large t See a general represenUtion of a

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TFIieel windows. The great defect of the wheel windows
in this style is a spottiness and want of breadth of
colour, arising from the practice of ornamenting each
tracery light with a separate pattern, in general sur-
rounded with a border, which insulates it from the other
patterns. This defect is less observable in those foreign
windows in which the colour is chiefly disposed in and
about the centre and circumference of the circle, the inter-
mediate space being left nearly white. A small picture
sometimes occupies the centre or eye of the window, some-
times even this is filled with a pattern, or heraldry^.
The eye of the wheel in the tracery of the east vraidow
of Merton chapel, Oxford, is filled with coats of arms, and
other ornaments, on a coloured ground ; and the radiating
lights principally with diverging scrolls of foliage, also on
a coloured ground. This circle has somewhat the appear-
ance of a star.

In the works of this period may be perceived, though
perhaps not so distinctly as in those of the last, a certain
selection of particular kinds of windows for particular
situations. Thus figure and canopy windows are more
frequently to be met with at the extremities of a building,
and in lofty situations, than in other positions : while pattern
windows, with belts of canopies or panels in them, are
generally reserved for the side windows of aisles &c. But
there is no positive rule on the subject ; the former descrip-
tion of windows being often found in the sides of a building,
and the latter in the clearstory.

There appears also to be no positive rule for the relative
disposition of coloured and white windows.

In some buildings, the whole of the windows are com-

nther late Decorated Jesse, Lysons* " See a smallDecorated wheel window,

" Oloucestenhire,'' plate XCIII. De- Lasteyrie, " Uistoire de la Peinture sur

tails on a larger scale arc given in plate verre," plate XLV.

Online LibraryCharles WinstonAn inquiry into the difference of style observable in ancient glass paintings, especially in England : with hints on glass painting → online text (page 7 of 35)