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Panel

  • Place of origin:

    France (probably, made)
    France (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1250 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glass with painted details

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support

  • Museum number:

    C.125-1929

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 84, The Whiteley Galleries, case S2

Originally, the prophet in this panel would probably have formed part of a large Jesse Tree window. Jesse was the father of King David, and the Old Testament prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come from the House of David. He wrote: ‘A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots’ (Isaiah 11: 1–3).

Jesse Trees were common in medieval art during the 12th and 13th centuries. They are intended to show the genealogy (ancestry) of Jesus Christ which is described in the Gospel of St Matthew.

Most Jesse Trees have a reclining figure of Jesse at the bottom with a vine or tree growing up from him. In the centre the branches hold kings from the line of David. Flanking them are figures of the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ and proclaimed his ancestry.

Recent research has suggested that this panel and another in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Museum number: C.3-1983) came from a Jesse Tree window in Soissons Cathedral in France. Many of the windows in the cathedral were badly damaged during the 16th and 19th centuries. Many of them have been restored, and some of the damaged glass has been replaced with glass from another church. This has confused the original iconography (subject matter depicted in the windows).

Place of Origin

France (probably, made)
France (possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1250 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Glass with painted details

Dimensions

Height: 67.5 cm framed, Width: 23.0 cm framed, Depth: 3.2 cm framed, Weight: 3.9 kg framed, Height: 66.8 cm sight, Width: 22.0 cm sight

Object history note

According to Caviness, this panel , C.3-1983 and one in Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts, USA are all that survive from a Jesse Tree window. Their style is similar to those at the Sainte-Chapelle.

She believes they came from Soissons because the figures are similar in style to figures from some Soissons panels which no longer survive and are only known from photographs. We don't know if Soissons even had a Jesse window but it is likely that they did.

Louis Grodecki believed that artists from Sainte-Chapelle worked at Soissons because there are similarities in the painting style of the faces and hair.

This panel and the Worcester panel were made from the same cartoon. The cutlines are almost identical. The Worcester figure has a purple robe and a yellow cloak. This V&A one has a red robe and a green cloak.

Soissons Cathedral was heavily damaged in a Huguenot attack in 1567.
In 1815 two powder magazines exploded near the cathedral and destroyed nearly all the windows in the nave and damaged some in the ambulatory.
This glass was replaced with some from the abbey church of St. Yved in Braine.
In the 1860s major restoration work was undertaken.
In the 1880s the glass was removed and much glass was dispersed before WWI.

The surviving windows suffered extensivc restorations that have altered original settings and compositions. Whole windows were transferred from their original locations.

Historical context note

This panel most likely depicts a prophet which would originally have formed part of a large Jesse Tree window.

Jesse was the father of King David. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would come from the House of David and wrote (11:1-3):
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

Jesse Trees were common in 12th and 13th century medieval art. They are intended to show the geneology of Jesus Christ which is described in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Most Jesse Trees have a reclining figure of Jesse at the bottom with a vine or tree growing up from him. The branches of the tree hold, in the centre, kings from the line of David. Flanking these kings are figures of prophets who foretold the coming of Christ and proclaimed his ancestry.

Recent research has suggested that this panel and another one in the V&A (C.3-1983) came from a Jesse Tree window in Soissons Cathedral in France.

Soissons Cathedral and many of its windows were greatly damaged in the 16th and 19th centuries. Some of the damaged glass had been replaced with glass from another church and extensive restoration work has confused the original iconography.

Descriptive line

Panel of clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details depicting a prophet. French, about 1250.

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

Madeline H. Caviness, 'Another Dispersed Window from Soissons: A Tree of Jesse in the Sainte-Chapelle Style', Gesta, XX, I (1981)

Labels and date

TWO PROPHETS

These two prophets must have come from a window dedicated to the Tree of Jesse, a symbolic representation of the genealogy of Christ. They would have been on the left and right sides respectively, flanking seated figures of kings. This window, executed in a style very similar to that found in the glass of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, was probably in Soissons Cathedral, and another prophet figure from it is now in the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts (U.S.A.).

France, about 1250
Museum nos. C.125-1929, C.3-1983 [(PW) 2003]

Production Note

Probably from the same workshop as earlier panels in the Sainte-Chapelle, Paris.

Materials

Glass

Techniques

Pot metal; Painting

Subjects depicted

Prophet

Categories

Stained Glass; Religion; Christianity

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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