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Panel - St John the Baptist and donor

St John the Baptist and donor

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Lower Rhine (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1516-1522 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rensig, Everhard (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and silver stain.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by E.E. Cook Esquire.

  • Museum number:

    C.291-1928

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture 1300-1600, Room 26, case WE

This panel is one of many in the V&A that comes from the cloisters at the Cistercian abbey of Mariawald, in Germany. Founded in 1480, the abbey was closed down in 1802. The stained glass windows had been removed and are believed to have been bought by John Christopher Hampp of Norwich. Many were subsequently purchased by Lord Brownlow and installed in his new chapel at Ashridge Park, Hertfordshire, between 1811 and 1831. In 1928 the contents of Ashridge Park were sold at auction. A private collector purchased the stained glass and gave it to the V&A.

Each cloister window was composed of two openings (‘lights’). Each light was composed of three large panels, plus one small tracery panel. So each window had eight panels. Two panels depicted scenes from the Old Testament and two panels scenes from the New Testament. Above the biblical story panels were two smaller prophet (or ‘messenger’) panels with half-images of Old Testament prophets holding scrolls. At the base of each window were donor and patron saint panels. The donors helped finance the cloister glazing.

The donor in this panel is Heinrich Kretzgen of nearby Morsbach. We can identify him from the inscription on the banderole which runs along the top of the red damask curtain behind him and his patron saint, John the Baptist. A panel in the same window shows his wife and daughter (Museum no. C.318-1928).

Physical description

Panel of stained and painted glass depicting Heinrich Kretzgen von Morsbach and his patron St John the Baptist. The donor kneels in a praying position on a small wood kneeler. He faces John the Baptist who holds a book in his left hand and on which sits the Agnus Dei bearing a banner. There is an inscription on top of the red brocaded curtain behind the figures.
The curtain is of red glass. The landscape in the background is painted on pale blue glass. The rest of the panel in grisaille, brown pigment and yellow stain on clear glass.

Place of Origin

Lower Rhine (made)

Date

ca. 1516-1522 (made)

Artist/maker

Rensig, Everhard (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and silver stain.

Marks and inscriptions

Bidt voer Cretzius Heyn(rich)en und
Pray for Heinrich Kretzgen [von Morsbach] and

Dimensions

Height: 71.1 cm sight, Width: 66.0 cm sight, Weight: 7.6 kg in display frame, Height: 74.1 cm in display frame, Width: 68.8 cm in display frame, Depth: 3.2 cm in display frame

Object history note

In the cloister of Mariawald until about 1802.
From about 1811 until 1928 it was installed in the Chapel at Ashridge Park, Hertfordshire.
(12 July 1928) Sold at Sotheby's.
The glazing of the Mariawald cloister, confined to ten windows on the west and north sides and one at the north end of the east walk, and made up entirely of two-light windows, seems to have started at the beginning of the second decade of the 16th century and probably continued until the early 1530s. From the surviving panels and the existing windows it can be seen that the programme was made up of paired Old and New Testament scenes arranged typologically one above the other (New Testament at the second level, Old Testament in the third), as in the Biblia Pauperum, with donor panels placed on the lowest level. A prophet with a scroll occupied the cusped head of each light.

Believed to be from the first window in the cloisters at Mariawald.

Historical context note

Mariawald was a Cistercian abbey founded in 1480. The Cistercians were a monastic order established in 1098 in Burgundy at Citeaux. The founder of the Cistercians had broken away from the Benedictines which had been the first monastic order to be established in Europe, in the 6th century.

During the Revolutionary struggles in France and the subsequent religious upheavals under Napoleon, many monastic institutions on the continent were 'secularised' and their buildings destroyed. The abbey of Mariawald was closed down in 1802 but fortunately its buildings, including the cloisters, remain largely intact. However, the stained glass windows had been removed and it is believed that they were purchased by John Christopher Hampp of Norwich. Hampp sold the Mariawald panels to various churches and to private collectors. Many of these were purchased by the collector, Lord Brownlow who had them installed in his new chapel at Ashridge Park in Hertfordshire between 1811 and 1831.

In 1928 the contents of Ashridge Park were sold at auction and a private collector purchased the stained glass and gave it to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

This panel is one of many in the V&A that comes from the cloisters at Mariawald. These panels come from ten windows on the west and north sides of the cloister, plus one from the north end of the eastern part. The glazing of these cloisters began about 1510 and seem to have been completed in the 1530s.

As the cloisters were never dismantled we can reconstruct how the panels were placed in the architectural structure. The window openings in the cloisters were each composed of two openings ('lights'). Each light was composed of three large panels, plus one small tracery panel. So there would have been eight panels to each window.

From the surviving stained glass panels we can determine the theme of the cloister glazing. Each window had two panels depicting scenes from the Old Testament and two panels with scenes from the New Testament. Above the biblical story panels, were two smaller prophet (or 'messenger') panels. These contained half-images of Old Testament prophets holding scrolls with text relating to biblical passages connected with the scenes below. At the base of each window were donor and patron saint panels. These donors were the ones who contributed to the financing of the cloister glazing.

This type of narrative arrangement is known as 'typological'. Each Old Testament story was a 'type' or a prefigurement of a New Testament story ('antitype'). For example, the Old Testament story of Elisha greeted by the Sons of the Prophet was a prefigurement of the New Testament 'Entry of Christ into Jerusalem' which occurred on what we now call 'Palm Sunday'.

The typological arrangement was popular in the Middle Ages. The stories were reproduced in manuscripts and in engravings from woodcuts and collectively became known as 'Biblia Pauperum' ('Bibles of the Poor'). At the end of the 15th century the Biblia Pauperum were printed in book form and sold in their thousands. These books were used as design sources for artworks including stained glass panels.

Descriptive line

Clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain. Depicting the donor Heinrich Kretzgens and his patron saint, John the Baptist. From the cloisters of the abbey of Mariawal. Possibly made in the workshop of Everhard Rensig. German (Lower Rhine), about 1516 to 1522.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Rackham, Bernard, 'The Ashridge stained glass', Old Furniture, vol.5 (1928), pp.33-7
Wyatt, James, Description of the Stained Glass Panels at Ashridge Chapel, privately printed, 1906
Goerke, C., Das Zisterzienserkloster Mariawald, Mariawald, 1932
Rackham, Bernard, 'The Mariawald-Ashridge Glass', Burlington Magazine, Nov. 1944, pp.266-73
Rackham, Bernard, 'The Mariawald-Ashridge Glass II', Burlington Magazine, April 1945, pp.90-4
Rackham, Bernard, 'The Ashridge Stained Glass', Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 3rd series, vol. X (1945-7), pp.1-22
Neuss, Wilhelm, ed., Die Glasmalereien aus dem Steinfelder Kreuzgang, Moenchengladbach, 1955
Wolff-Wintrich, Brigitte, 'Kolner Glasmaleriei sammlungen des 19. Jahrhunderts', in Lust und Verlust Kolner Sammler zwischen Trikolore und Preussenadler, Exhibition Catalogue (Kunsthalle Koln), Koln, 1995, pp.341-54
Kurthen, J., 'Die alten Kunstfenster', in Mariawald: Geschichte eines Klosters, Heimbach/Eifel, 1962
Conrad, M., 'Zur Geschichte der alten Glasgemalde aus dem Kreuzgang von Kloster Mariawald', Heimatkalender des Landkreises Schleiden, 1969, pp.95-102
Zakin, H., 'Mariawald:Cistercian Narrative', in Stained Glass as Monumental Painting (XIXth International Colloquium, CVMA, Krakow, 1998), Cracow, 2000, pp.273-80
Jakob Polius, 'Analecta sive collectanea antiquitatem', Duren, Stadtarchiv, A30, Hs. 2
Raguin and Zakin, Stained Glass before 1700, part 2, pp.127-9, 170-6
Avril Henry, ed., Biblia Pauperum, Scolar Press, 1987
William Cole, 'A Hitherto Unrecorded Panel of Stained Glass from the Abbey of Mariawald', Journal of the British Society of Master Glass Painters, XVII (1981-2). pp.21-4
E. Wackenroder, Die Kunstdenkmaker des Kreoses Schleiden, Dusseldorf, 1932
Paul Clemen, Die Kunstdenkmaler der Rheinprovinz, Kreis Schleiden, XI, 2, Dusseldorf, 1932
Hermann Schmitz, Die Glasgemalde des Koniglichen Kunstgewerbemuseums in Berlin, Berlin, 1913
MR James, Notes of Glass in Ashridge Chapel, Grantham, 1906
Jakob Polius, 'Analecta sive collectanea antiquitatem', Duren, Stadtarchiv, A30, Hs. 2

Labels and date

Heinrich Kretgens of Morsbach and his Patron Saint John the Baptist
The inscription on the wall hangings identifies this man as Henrich Kretzgens. He was one of the donors who helped to pay for the glazing of the Mariawald Abbey cloisters. It is believed that his wife and daughter are depicted in the adjacent panel.

Cologne, Germany, about 1516 to 1522
Clear and coloured glass, with paint and silver stain
From the cloisters of Mariawald Abbey, near Cologne
Museum no. C.291-1928 [(TAB) 13.12.07]

Materials

Glass

Techniques

Painting; Silver staining; Pot metal

Subjects depicted

Devotion; Architecture; Landscapes (representations); Agnus Dei; Halo; Donor; Men

Categories

Stained Glass

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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