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Fragment - St Catherine

St Catherine

  • Object:

    Fragment

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    second half 15th century (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear glass with painted details in brown and in yellow (silver) stain

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr. Grosvenor Thomas

  • Museum number:

    C.398-1915

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

In contrast to traditional stained glass, which was coloured with metallic oxides when molten, this fragment was decorated using a technique introduced to England in the early part of the 14th century. This consisted of painting a compound of silver on the back of the glass. After firing in the kiln, the silver compound would turn yellow. Many panels from the 14th and 15th centuries are decorated simply in yellow (silver) stain and highlighted with a brown-black pigment. Since the technique reduced the amount of leading required, it allowed greater freedom of composition.

This fragment shows the head of a woman. Behind her head are the remains of a wheel painted on to the back of the glass with yellow (silver) stain. This indicates that the woman is St Catherine whose emblem was the wheel. It is likely that this image formed part of a larger panel in a church that depicted St Catherine or a scene from her life.

The religious conflicts that affected the British Isles in the 16th and 17th centuries had a devastating effect upon the decorative arts and furnishings of the Christian church. Much of the medieval stained glass in churches and cathedrals was damaged and only survives in a fragmentary state.

Physical description

Stained glass fragment depicting part of a head with a halo, black with yellow stain

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

second half 15th century (made)

Materials and Techniques

Clear glass with painted details in brown and in yellow (silver) stain

Dimensions

Height: 6.50 in maximum, Width: 4.50 in maximum

Object history note

This fragment has been placed in a panel with the following other fragments:
C.328-1915, C.342-1915, C.393-1915, C.392-1915, C.391-1915, C.399-1915, C.66-1926, C.398-1915, C.64-19126, C.406-1915.
C.399-1915 has been assigned the overall museum number for this panel. It was previously recorded as 19FR6.

Historical context note

In spite of England's rich tradition of stained glass in the Middle Ages, a great deal was destroyed in the religious conflicts of the 16th and 17th centuries. As a result, much of the glass from this time survives only in a fragmentary state.

In contrast to traditional stained glass, which was coloured with metallic oxides when molten, this fragment was decorated using a technique introduced to England in the early part of the 14th century. This consisted of painting a compound of silver on the back of the glass. After firing in the kiln, the silver compound turns yellow. Many panels from the 14th and 15th centuries are decorated simply in yellow (silver) stain and highlighted with a brown-black pigment. Since the technique reduced the amount of leading required, it allowecd greater freedom of composition.

This fragment shows the head of a woman. Behind her head are the remains of a wheel painted on to the back of the glass with yellow (silver) stain. This indicates that the woman is St Catherine whose emblem was the wheel. It is likely that this image formed part of a larger panel in a church that depicted St Catherine or a scene from her life.

Descriptive line

Fragment of clear glass with painted details in brown and in yellow (silver) stain. Possibly depicting the head of Saint Catherine. English, second half 15th century

Materials

Glass

Techniques

Painting; Silver staining

Subjects depicted

Wheel

Categories

Stained Glass; Religion; British Galleries

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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