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Marriage of Tobias and Sara

  • Object:

    Medallion

  • Place of origin:

    Ile-de-France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1243-1248 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear and coloured glass with painted details

  • Museum number:

    5458-1858

  • Gallery location:

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

This roundel originally came from the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. This was built by Louis IX of France to house the Crown of Thorns, which Jesus Christ had worn at the time of his Crucifixion. The king acquired part of this priceless relic in 1238. The Sainte-Chapelle was begun in 1241 and dedicated in 1248. It has been described as a huge reliquary in stone. Architecture, sculpture and stained glass combine to produce an effect of astonishing richness. The vast glazing programme has suffered, however. During the first half of the 19th century much glass was removed and many panels were sold to private collectors. Fortunately, some have come into museum collections.

Originally, this medallion belonged to the window devoted to the Story of Tobias, on the south side. It shows Tobias and Sara being joined in marriage by Sara's father, Raguel, who stands behind her. Taking his daughter's right hand and putting it into the right hand of Tobias, he gives the couple his blessing.

The Book of Tobias recounts how Tobias’s son, also called Tobias, with the aid of the Archangel Raphael, was able to restore his father's health and wealth. Raphael, in disguise, leads Tobias to the lands of his kinsman Raguel. Raguel gives his daughter Sara in marriage to Tobias, but warns him that Sara's seven previous husbands had all been devoured by demons on the wedding night. With Raphael's aid, Tobias prepares a potion, the smell of which drives out the demons. He and Sara are then able to consummate their marriage successfully.

The Catholic church considers the Book of Tobias (or Tobit) to be a canonical book of the Old Testament. The Protestant reformers in the first half of the 16th century considered it to be non-historical and thus non-authoritative. They removed it from their official new bibles and labelled it 'Apocryphal'.

Physical description

Roundel of painted pot metal glass. Depicting a scene from the Book of Tobit: The Marriage of Tobias and Sara with the Archangel Raphael as a witness.

Place of Origin

Ile-de-France (made)

Date

ca. 1243-1248 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Clear and coloured glass with painted details

Dimensions

Diameter: 66.5 cm

Object history note

From the Sainte-Chapelle.

Historical context note

The Book of Tobias (or Tobit) is considered by the Catholic Church to be a canonical book of the Old Testament; its historicity was confirmed at the Council of Trent in 1546. The reformers in the emerging Protestant churches in the first half of the 16th century considered it to be non-historical and thus non-authoritative. It was removed from the official new Bibles and labelled as 'Apocryphal'.

Descriptive line

Painted glass roundel depicting the Marriage of Tobias and Sara. Formerly in the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris. Made in France in about 1243-1248.

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

Williamson, Paul. Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2003. ISBN 1851774041
Alyce A. Jordan, "Rationalizing the Narrative: Theory and Practice in the Nineteenth-Century Restoration of the Windows of the Sainte-Chapelle," Gesta, XXXVII, no.2 (1998), pp. 192-200.

Labels and date

THE MARRIAGE OF TOBIAS AND SARA

The Old Testament figures Tobias and Sara are shown being joined in marriage by Sara's father Raguel, who stands behind her. The roundel originally belonged to a lancet on the south side of the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, devoted to the story of Tobias. The Sainte-Chapelle was built by King Louis IX to house Christ's Crown of Thorns, acquired in 1239; its vast glazing programme was much restored in the 19th century.

France (Paris), 1243-48
Museum no. 5458-1858 [(PW) 2004]

Production Note

Formerly in the Ste Chapelle, Paris

Materials

Glass

Techniques

Pot metal; Painting

Subjects depicted

Angel; Marriage

Categories

Stained Glass; Religion; Christianity; Marriage

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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