Please complete the form to email this item.

Annunciation to the Shepherds

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    England, Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1340-1345 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear and coloured glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mr Henry Vaughan

  • Museum number:

    2270-1900

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, room 84, case S3

  • Download image

The birth and childhood of Jesus Christ are recorded only in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Mark and John begin with the ministry of the adult Christ. Only Luke refers to the angel appearing to the shepherds to tell them of the miraculous birth. The shepherds then pay homage to the Christ Child. This latter scene is often contrasted with that of the 'Adoration of the Magi'. The two events were interpreted respectively as the announcement of the birth of the Messiah to the Jews (the shepherds) and to the Gentiles (the Magi).

The design for this roundel is very similar to that of a manuscript dating from about 1325-35 that is now in The Hague, in the Netherlands. The manuscript is by an unknown artist who was making illustrations for a Flemish history of the world entitled 'Spieghel historiael'.

It is likely that this roundel and the manuscript share a common image source. The Hague manuscript depicts the 'Annunciation of the Birth of Mary to Joachim'. The maker of the roundel adopted the same image elements - standing shepherd with fuller's staff, seated youth with chanter bagpipe ('chorus'), sheep with dog, angel emerging from clouds - and turned it into an 'Annunciation to the Shepherds'.

The bagpipe depicted in this roundel is a 'chorus'. This simpler form was suited for use by a shepherd, and was probably used in the countryside well into the modern period.

A herdsman had all the necessary materials at hand to make a bagpipe: a goat or sheep skin and a reed pipe. Its form has changed over the centuries, but it seems that the early medieval bagpipe consisted only of a bag and a chanter (the pipe on which the melody is played). Perhaps about 1300 a single drone (a pipe that produces a tone) was added; another was added about 1400 and a third came in after 1550. The droneless bagpipe is sometimes called a 'chorus' or a 'chanter bagpipe'.

Physical description

Roundel of clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain.
The roundel in its present form is not original. The central theme is the Annunciation to the Shepherds and there are four pieces of glass, executed entirely in brown/black pigment and silver stain on clear glass, in the roundel that are part of this. They depict a shepherd standing on the left, holding a staff which resembles a fulling club in his right hand, his left hand raised to shield his eyes. He wears a yellow shoulder cape with a hood which is pulled up over his head. There is a liripipe on the hood. Under the cape he wears a short white gown. He has short black boots over yellow tights. He wears a large pouch on his belt which has a fretty pattern in yellow. Part of the original black background can be seen which has been etched through in a barb design.

On the right of the panel another figure sits playing an early bagpipe (a 'chorus'). He is wearing a long white gown with attached hood and liripipe, the hood is down. He holds the bagpipe in his arms and is blowing through the reed with his left hand on the chanter.

Between these two figures is another piece of glass painted with two white horned sheep and a yellow dog which is in the act of leaping up.

Above them an angel appears from the clouds. He gestures towards the standing shepherd and with his right hand points to something no longer visible in the roundel - presumably to the star which appeared over Bethlehem.

There are two other pieces of clear glass painted with silver stain which are of a later date.

Interspersed between the above are four pieces of blue glass, over painted with brown/back pigment, scratched out to reveal a design of borders and foliage. The whole roundel is encased in a border of red flashed glass. The blue and red glass are not from the same roundel as the figurative pieces but they are of the same date or slightly later.

Place of Origin

England, Britain (made)

Date

ca. 1340-1345 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Clear and coloured glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain

Dimensions

Diameter: 29.4 cm sight, Height: 30.5 cm framed, Width: 30.6 cm framed, Weight: 2.18 kg framed

Historical context note

The bagpipe probably originated as a rustic instrument because a herdsman had the necessary materials at hand: a goat or sheep skin and a reed pipe. The form of the bagpipe has changed over the centuries but it seems that the early medieval bagpipe consisted of a bag and a chanter (the pipe on which the melody is played) only. Around 1300 a single drone (a pipe that produces a tone) was added, another was added about 1400 and a third comes in sometime after 1550. The droneless bagpipe is sometimes called a 'chorus' or a 'chanter bagpipe'.

The bagpipe depicted in this roundel is a 'chorus'. This less complicated form was ideally suited for use by a shepherd and undoubtedly was a form used well into the modern period.

Descriptive line

Roundel of clear, coloured and flashed glass, painted and with yellow (silver) stain depicting the Annunciation to the Shepherds, English, about 1340-45.

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

Williamson, Paul. Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2003. ISBN 1851774041
The Hague, Manuscript KB, KA 20
Unknown illustrator of Jacob van Maerlant's Spieghel historiale, c.1325-35.
The designs for this roundel and the above MS come from the same source.
Luke 2: 8-10
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
J. Baker, English Stained Glass of the Medieval Period, 1960
Bernard Rackham, A Guide to the Collections of Stained Glass, Victoria & Albert Museum, London. 1936
p.46 '...by the style of its drawing can be dated to the last years of the [14th] century'.

Exhibition History

European Art around 1400 (Kunsthistorisches Museum 01/01/1962-31/12/1962)
'Age of Chivalry' (Royal Academy of Arts)
'Age of Chivalry' (Royal Academy of Arts 01/01/1988-31/12/1988)

Labels and date

THE ANNUNCIATION TO THE SHEPHERDS

The figures, drawn on white glass with yellow stain, and the original seaweed background scratched on to blue glass indicate a date around the middle of the 14th century.

England, probably about 1340
Museum no. 2270-1900; Bequest of Henry Vaughan [(PW) 2004]

Production Note

The design of this roundel is very similar to a MS in the Hague, dated to 1325-35 (MS KB, KA 20).

Materials

Glass

Techniques

Painting; Silver staining; Pot metal; Flashing

Subjects depicted

Dog; Sheep; Angel; Leaf; Shepherd; Staff; Bethlehem; Bagpipe

Categories

British Galleries; Religion; Christianity; Stained Glass

Collection code

CER

Download image
Qr_O66647
Ajax-loader