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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1st half 15th century (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear glass painted with black/brown pigment and silver (yellow) stain.

  • Museum number:


  • 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 an angel playing what is most likely a rebec rather than a viol. The bow is very arched which is the type associated with playing rebecs. Angels are often depicted playing musical instruments. They form part of the heavenly choir and often accompany scenes related to the Passion of Jesus Christ, such as His crucifixion. The depiction of the angel playing the rebec here is somewhat odd. The angel is playing the instrument as a left-handed person would but his right fingers are positioned as a right-handed person's would be. We do not know where this fragment was originally positioned but it is likely that it formed part of a larger panel in a church.

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

A rectangular panel. The angel is seen half-length; he wears a full-sleeved garment with amice and holds the rebec (note: at acquisition was described as a viol) to his shoulder. The rectangular panel is completed by fragments with foliage and scrolls, with another of segmental shape above all in brownish-black and silver stain.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1st half 15th century (made)

Materials and Techniques

Clear glass painted with black/brown pigment and silver (yellow) stain.

Object history note

Purchased from George Oakes, Stamford, Lincolnshire. No provenance given.
Seems to have come into the collection on its own and subsequently arranged in a composite panel by the Museum.

Descriptive line

Fragment of clear glass painted with brown/black pigment and silver (yellow) stain. Depicting an angel playing a rebec. English, first half 15th century.

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

RF 25/8833 Purchase from George Oakes.




Painting; Staining


British Galleries; Stained Glass


Ceramics Collection

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