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Panel - Saint James the Less

Saint James the Less

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    15th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Stained glass

  • Museum number:

    C.334-1937

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This panel was originally located in the upper lights (openings) of a larger window. These are known as tracery lights.

St James was one of the Twelve Apostles, whom Christ appointed to be his special disciples. After his Resurrection, Christ charged them with spreading his teachings. James became known as ‘the Less’ to distinguish him from another Apostle called James (‘the Greater’). The Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, sentenced him to death in AD 62. He was martyred by stoning and clubbing.

The saints of the Christian church can often be identified by a device, which is known as their ‘attribute’. In this panel St James holds a fuller’s club, which is used in the textile dying industry. The Golden Legend, an influential compilation of saints’ lives written about 1260, describes his martyrdom. The elders of the Sanhedrin threw James from the top of the temple and killed him by splitting his head open with such a club.

St James bears a scroll on which are written in Latin the words ‘He ascended to Heaven and sits on the right hand of God’. This is a line from the ‘Apostles’ Creed’, a statement of faith in the Christian church. It begins: ‘I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth’. A tradition dating back at least to the end of the 4th century states that the Twelve Apostles gathered together after the Ascension of Christ. The Holy Spirit inspired them to write the Apostles’ Creed, each contributing a line.

The Twelve Apostles often formed part of large decorative schemes in the Middle Ages. They are the backbone upon which the Christian faith spread throughout the world.

Physical description

Panel (a tracery light with trefoil top). St. James the Less, standing and holding a fuller's club. Above, a scroll inscribed A S CENDIT AD CELOS SEDET AD DEXTER DEI. Blue, ruby, white and gold.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

15th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Stained glass

Marks and inscriptions

A[s]cendit ad celos sedet ad dexter dei
He ascended to Heaven and is seated on the right hand of God

Dimensions

Height: 20 in, Width: 7.75 in

Object history note

The panel was bought from the collection of Mr. F.E. Sidney in 1937. Sidney had collected stained glass panels and had them inserted into the windows of his house in Hampstead, London.

Historical context note

This panel was originally located in the upper lights (openings) of a larger window. These are known as tracery lights.

St James is one of the Twelve Apostles, appointed by Christ himself as his special disciples and given charge of the spreading of Christ's teachings after his death. He became known as 'the Less' to distinguish him from another apostle, also called James ('the Greater'). He was martyred in Jerusalem in 62 AD after being sentenced by the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, to stoning.

The saints of the Christian church can often be identified by a device which is known as their 'attribute'. In this panel St James holds a fuller's club. According to the Golden Legend, an influential manuscript of saints' lives compiled in the middle of the 13th century, the elders of the Sanhedrin threw James from the top of the temple and then killed him by splitting his head open with a fuller's club. A fuller's club is used in the textile dying industry.

St James bears a scroll on which are written the words, translated from Latin, 'He ascended to Heaven and sits on the right hand of God'. This is a line from the 'Apostles' Creed'. This was and still is a statement of faith in the Christian Church. It begins 'I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth…'. A tradition dating back at least to the end of the 4th century, states that the 12 Apostles, gathered together after the death of Christ, were inspired by the Holy Spirit and wrote the Apostles Creed, each contributing a line.

The twelve apostles often formed part of a large decorative schemes in the Middle Ages. They are the backbone upon which the Christian faith was spread throughout the world.

Descriptive line

Panel of clear and coloured glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain. Depicting the apostle St James the Less. English, c.1400-50

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

Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend, trans WG Ryan, Princeton University Press, 1993
Bernard Rackham, 'Stained Glass in the Collection of Mr. F.E. Sidney', Old Furniture, vols. VII-VIII (1929)
C.R. Councer, 'The Medieval Painted Glass of Mersham', Archaeologia Cantiana, vol.XLVIII (1938), pp.81-90
Curt f. Buhler, 'The Apostles and the Creed', Speculum, XVIII (1953), pp.335-339

Labels and date

SAINT JAMES THE LESS AND SAINT PETER

From tracery lights at the top of a window (together with Museum nos. C.336 and C.337-1937 alongside). Above both figures are scrolls with inscriptions from the Apostles' Creed: A[s]cendit ad celos sedet ad dexter dei ('He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God') and Credo in Deum pater in omnipotentum ('I believe in God, the Father Almighty').

England, about 1400-50
Museum nos. C.334 and C.335-1937 [(PW) 2003]

Materials

Stained glass

Categories

Stained Glass; Religion; Christianity; British Galleries

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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