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Fragment

Fragment

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1420-1450 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

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

  • Museum number:

    C.66-1926

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This fragment shows the head of a young man wearing a crown. Behind his head are the remains of a circle with a border of yellow (silver) stain. This might be a halo, which would indicate that the young man was of saintly status, but we cannot be sure of this as the piece is too fragmentary. It is likely that this image formed part of the tracery lights in a window in a church.

The loose, free style of drawing is similar to that found in other fragments which have been identified in Oxfordshire, Coventry and in the East Midlands. In contrast to traditional decorated 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.

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.

This pane of glass was given to the Museum by a collector based in Stamford in Lincolnshire. The style of painting is similar to those identified as the workshop of John Thornton, stained glass maker based in Coventry. Thornton's workshop was undoubtedly large, with many former apprentices taking up work in the Midlands and neighbouring counties. This pane of glass may have been painted by someone trained in Coventry. Although we do not know where this pane originated, it is quite possible it comes from one of the churches in Stamford. The leading family in Stamford in the 15th century were the Brownes. John Browne and his son William were aldermen and Merchants of the Staple of Calais. Both father and son are known to have commissioned stained glass for All Saints Church and for their Hospital foundation. Additionally, some 15th century glass survives in the churches of St John the Baptist and in St Martin’s.

Physical description

Silver stain and brown painted fragment. Head of a young, crowned and nimbed King.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1420-1450 (made)

Materials and Techniques

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

Dimensions

Height: 4.75 in, Width: 3.875 in

Object history note

Given by George Oates, draper, Stamford, Lincolnshire.

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 allowed greater freedom of composition.

This fragment shows the head of a young man wearing a crown. Behind his head are the remains of a circle with a border of yellow (silver) stain. This might be a halo which would indicate that the young man was of saintly status but we cannot be sure of this. The loose, free style of drawing is similar to that found in other fragments which are believed to have been painted in or around Oxfordshire. It is likely that this image formed part of a larger panel in a church.

Descriptive line

Fragment of clear glass with painted details in brown and in yellow (silver) stain. Depicting the head and upper torso of a crowned saintly youth. English, Midlands, about 1420 to 1450

Materials

Glass

Techniques

Painting; Silver staining

Subjects depicted

Halo; Crown; Youth; King

Categories

Stained Glass; Religion

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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