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Agnes, Duchess of Lower Bavaria

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Bavaria, Germany (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1309-1314 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Panel of clear and coloured glass with painted details

  • Credit Line:

    Given by J. Pierpont Morgan, Jr

  • Museum number:

    C.83-1919

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, room 84, case S2

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This panel is one of a group that originally formed part of a large window in the chapel of St Afra in the convent of Seligenthal, near Landshut (north of Munich) in Germany. Ten of these panels are now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich.

Ludmilla, Duchess of Bavaria, founded the abbey of Selingenthal in 1232 as a house for nuns of the Cistercian Order after her husband, Ludwig I of Kelheim, was assassinated. The convent and church were completed by 1259. The chapel of St Afra was added about fifty years later.

We are not certain of the identity of the Agnes on the panel in the Victoria and Albert Museum. One of the Munich panels depicting a woman is inscribed DOMINA ELIZABET DUCISSA BAWARIE. She has been identified as Elizabeth, daughter of Henry XIII, Duke of Lower Bavaria. Elizabeth died as a nun in Seligenthal in 1314. She had a sister called Agnes (1254–1315), who was also a nun. But this Agnes had never married.

Another Agnes was the daughter of the founder, Ludmilla. She was married to Otto II, Duke of Bavaria, and was grandmother to Elizabeth. She died in 1269 and was buried in the convent. But this was about 40 years before the panel was created.

There is still another Agnes, daughter of Henry III of Silesia. She was the second wife of Otto III (1261–1312), the second duke of Lower Bavaria and son of the Henry XIII mentioned above. Agnes married Otto in 1309 and died in 1361.

The panels must date after Elizabeth’s birth, which was in 1258. Her death in 1314 may be the reason that the windows were commissioned. The chapel of St Afra was added about this time. If so, this suggests that the Agnes in the panel was the wife of Otto III.

Alternatively, if the windows commemorate the foundress, Ludmilla, and her descendents, then the Agnes in this panel could be her daughter, Otto II’s wife, who was buried in the convent in 1269.

The inscription on the panel refers to Agnes as ‘his wife’, which indicates that there was once an accompanying panel of the husband. This would enable us to identify Agnes, but unfortunately it no longer survives.

Physical description

Panel of clear and coloured glass with painted details depicting a woman within a canopied niche.

Place of Origin

Bavaria, Germany (made)

Date

ca. 1309-1314 (made)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Panel of clear and coloured glass with painted details

Marks and inscriptions

DOMINA AGNES UXOR SUA Lady Agnes his wife

Dimensions

Height: 66.5 cm, Width: 51 cm

Object history note

This panel was on loan from JP Morgan Sr from 1909. His son, JP Morgan Jr, gave the panel to the museum in 1919 in memory of his recently deceased father and in acknowledgement of Anglo-American cooperation in the first world war.
Jp Morgan Sr bought the panel from a London dealer, details unknown, who had acquired it in Germany.

Historical context note

This panel is part of a group of panels which originally formed part of a large window in the chapel of St Afra in the Cistercian convent of Seligenthal, near Landshut (north of Munich). 10 of these panels are now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich.

The abbey of Selingenthal was founded in 1232 as a house for nuns of the Cistercian order by Ludmilla, Duchess of Bavaria after the assasination of her husband, Ludwig I of Kelheim.

There has been some research into who the Agnes of the V&A panel was. One of the Munich panels depicts, with inscription, DOMINA ELIZABET DUCISSA BAWARIE. She has been identified as Elizabeth, daughter of Henry XIII, duke of Lower Bavaria. Elizabeth died as a nun in Seligenthal in 1314. She had a sister called Agnes, 1254-1315, who was also a nun. But this Agnes had never married.

Another possible Agnes is the one who was daughter of Ludmilla, founder of the covent at Seligenthal, She was married to Otto II, Duke of Bavaria and was grandmother to Elizabeth. She died in 1269 and was buried in the covent. However, the date of her death is about 40 years earlier than when we believe the panel to have been created.

There is still another Agnes who was daughter of Henry III of Silesia. This Agnes was the second wife of Otto III (1261-1312), second duke of Lower Bavaria. Otto III was the son of the aforementioned Henry XIII. Agnes married Otto in 1309 and died in 1361.

Because of the presence of the panel depicting Elizabeth we can date them to not before her birth, the date of which is not known however. Elizabeth died in 1314 and it has been suggested that this event was the reason for the commissioning of the windows. Although the convent and its church was built in the 1230s, the chapel of St Afra was not added until the early part of the 14th century. This would date the panels in Munich and the one shown here in the V&A to that time. Because of this dating, it is believed that the Agnes referred to must be the one who married Otto III, Duke of Lower Bavaria in 1309 and died in 1361.

However, if the windows commemorated the foundress, Ludmilla, and her descendents, then the Agnes commemorated in this panel could be the daughter of Ludmilla, wife of Otto II, Duke of Bavaria, whoddied in 1269 and was buried in the covent.

The inscription which refers to Agnes as 'his wife' would indicate that there was an accompanying panel of 'her husband'. Unfortunately, this no longer survives as it would have given us more information to enable us to identify conclusively who Agnes was.

Descriptive line

Panel of clear and coloured glass with painted details depicting Agnes, Duchess of Lower Bavaria. Made in Germany (Bavaria), about 1309-1314.

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

Williamson, Paul. Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2003. ISBN 1851774041
J. Schinnerer, Katalog zu Glasgemalde des Bayerischen National-Museums, Munich, 1908
Bernard Rackham, 'A Stained Glass Panel from Landshut at the Victoria and Albert Museum', Burlington Magazine, 1920, pp.104-110

Labels and date

AGNES, DUCHESS OF LOWER BAVARIA

This panel, together with ten others now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich, comes from the chapel of St Afra in the Cistercian convent of Seligenthal, a rich nunnery favoured by the widows and daughters of the Bavarian dukes. The standing crowned figure (the lower portion now missing) is identified by the inscription DOMINA AGNES UXOR SUA ('Lady Agnes, his wife'), indicating that an image of her husband was shown alongside. This was probably Otto III, Duke of Lower Bavaria, who died in 1312, but that panel is now missing.

Germany (Bavaria), probably about 1309-14
Museum no. C.83-1919; given by J. Pierpont Morgan, Jr. [(PW) 2003]

Production Note

From the chapel of St Afra in the Cistercian convent of Seligenthal, near Landshut.

Materials

Glass

Techniques

Painting; Pot metal

Subjects depicted

Von Glogau, Agnes (Duchess of Lower Bavaria)

Categories

Religion; Christianity; Stained Glass

Collection code

CER

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Qr_O85639
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