Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.



  • Place of origin:

    Norfolk (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1460-1480 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Norwich School (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Coloured, flashed and clear glass, painted with yellow stain and brown enamel

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 58b, case 1

Object Type
During the 15th century there was considerable growth in church building. Windows were made much larger than before with increasingly refined tracery (the delicate interlaced stonework that divided the window into smaller areas in which stained glass could be inset). This development not only brought glass painters more business but also allowed them greater freedom in their compositions. Figure subjects such as this were ideally shaped to fill the pointed arches of the topmost lights in a window.

Subjects Depicted
This panel depicts a feathered angel playing a harp - a motif thought to be derived from medieval mystery plays. These vernacular dramas, which enacted biblical tales such as the Creation and the story of Adam and Eve, were performed all over Europe in the Middle Ages. In England, guilds of performers toured the countryside with their 'pageant wagons', the actors playing angels wearing 'pyjama suits' covered with feathers.

This panel is attributed to the Norwich School, one of the three major glass-painting centres in England that developed a distinctive style in the period. Stained glass was produced here from at least the 13th century. It was in the 15th century that business really took off, however, with many commissions financed by merchants made rich by the wool trade. Norwich glass was inventive, well drawn and vigorous in style. Its painters developed several motifs that were used with such regularity as to almost constitute trademarks. The most recognisable of these, featured here, is the pattern used to symbolise the grain and knotting of wood which resembles ears of barley.

Physical description

Panel (tracery light with trefoil top). An angel playing a harp. Ruby. Blue. Black. Silver-yellow. Lower portion restored in pale pinkish glass. Set in a rectangular panel of modern quarries of clear glass.

Place of Origin

Norfolk (probably, made)


1460-1480 (made)


Norwich School (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Coloured, flashed and clear glass, painted with yellow stain and brown enamel


Height: 61 cm, Width: 23 cm

Object history note

Probably made in Norfolk

Descriptive line

Stained glass panel depicting angels playing a lute and harp

Labels and date

British Galleries:
These fragments of stained glass were once part of a great window from a church in East Anglia. Stained glass painted in similar style, and dated between 1445 and 1480, is found in churches in and near Norwich. Medieval mystery plays refer to the feathered suits of angels seen in these fragments. [27/03/2003]


Stained glass


Stained Glass; Christianity; British Galleries


Ceramics Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.