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Shield of arms with knight supporters

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Middle Rhine, Germany (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1480 (made)
    late 19th century (restored)

  • Artist/Maker:

    unknown (production)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain

  • Museum number:

    C.289-1938

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, room 84, case S4

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In the early 19th century this roundel was seen in Gelnhausen Cathedral in the western part of Germany. We do not know if it came from there originally. No one has identified the coat of arms, which makes it difficult to assign it to a particular family estate or city.

The arms are described in heraldic terms as: Or, a double-headed eagle displayed sable; with an escutcheon of pretence, argent, a cross argent (on a gold ground, a black double-headed eagle with wings outspread; on the breast of the eagle a small shield with a white cross on a white ground).

Two knights support the arms. One holds a white banner with a white cross on it, repeating what is depicted in the escutcheon (small heraldic shield).

The roundel may come from the Deutschordenshaus (‘house of the Teutonic Knights’) in the city of Gelnhausen. The Teutonic Order was founded as a hospital in the Holy Land, similar to the orders of the Templars and the Hospitallers. Its members devoted themselves to serving German pilgrims and Crusaders.

If this roundel does depict the arms of a member of the Teutonic Order, then it is possible that it was originally in a window in a meeting room or hall of the Deutschordenshaus.

Physical description

Roundel of stained glass. This superbly drawn roundel shows two knights flanking a gold shield with the imperial emblem of double-headed eagle in black with a small escutcheon of pretence with a white cross on a white ground. The young knight on the left holds a banner, similarly decorated with a cross, and that on the right, with helm, holds a sword in his left hand. They stand before a diaper ground, scratched through a thin coat of dark enamel on ruby glass, the bottom third of which was restored, probably in the late nineteenth century.

Place of Origin

Middle Rhine, Germany (made)

Date

ca. 1480 (made)
late 19th century (restored)

Artist/maker

unknown (production)

Materials and Techniques

Clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain

Dimensions

Height: 39.5 cm

Object history note

Said to have come from the cathedral of Gelnhausen in Hessen (Schmitz, 1913). Then it passed into the collection in the Castle Mainberg at Schweinfurt until 1901. Then in the possession of Herr von Hollitscher in Berlin and then Noll in Frnakfurt until 1931. From there it passed into the collection of William Randolph Hearst. The museum bought it from the dealer Wilfrid Drake.

Historical context note

A 1913 publication records that this roundel was in the Cathedral of Gelnhausen in the German state of Hessen in the first half of the nineteenth century. We don't know if it was in the cathedral since it was made in the late 15th century. The arms have not been identified and it can't be ruled out that they are fanciful and so do not belong to any particular family.

The arms are described in heraldic terms as:
Or, a double-headed eagle displayed sable; with an escutcheon of pretence, argent, a cross argent
(on a gold ground, a black double-headed eagle with wings outspread; on the breast of the eagle a small shield with a white cross on a white ground).

The arms are supported by two knights, one of which is holding a white banner with a white cross on it, repeating what is depicted in the escutcheon.

No family has been identifed yet that bore these arms. The heraldry is puzzling as the 'rules' forbade the placing of a colour upon the same colour. The escutcheon and the banner are therefore incorrect according to the rules of heraldry.

Nevertheless, it has been suggested that the roundel possibly came from the Deutschordenshaus (house of the Teutonic Knights) in the city of Gelnhausen.

Descriptive line

Roundel of clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain. Depicting an unknown coat of arms. German (Middle Rhine), ca.1480.

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

Williamson, Paul. Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2003. ISBN 1851774041
This superbly drawn roundel shows two knights flanking a yellow shield with the imperial emblem of double-headed eagle in black with a small escutcheon of pretence with cross. The young knight on the left holds a banner, similarly decorated with a cross, and that on the right, with helm, holds a sword in his left hand. They stand before a diaper ground, scratched through a thin coat of dark enamel on ruby glass, the bottom third of which was restored, probably in the late nineteenth century. It was recorded in the first half of the nineteenth century in Geluhausen east of Frankfurt, and because of the arms it is probable that the roundel came from the Deutschordenshaus (house of the Teutonic knights) there, probably decorating a window in a meeting room or hall. Like the St Peter roundel (no.49), it has been associated with the Housebook Master. Because of its original provenance and its relationship to other glass paintings from the Middle Rhine, it may have been made in a Mainz workshop, probably around 1480. From Gelnhausen the roundel passed to the Schloss Mainberg at Schweinfurl until 1901, then to the von Hollitscher (Berlin) and Noll (Frankfurt) collections until 193]. It was bought by the American media magnate William Randolph Hearst, but was sold again a few years later and purchased by the Museum in 1938 from the London dealer Wilfred Drake.
H. Schmitz, Die Glasgemalde des koniglichen Kinstgewerbemuseums in Berlin. Mit einer Einfuhrung in die Geschichte der deutschen Glasmalerei, Berlin, 1913.
abb.189 & p.112 Says it is from the Cathedral of Gelnhausen in Hess. The roundel passed into the collection in the castle in Mainberg into the possession of Herr von Hollitscher in Berlin and then into the collection of William Randolph Hearst.
R. Becksmann, 'Das "Hausbuchmeister-problem" in der mittelrheinischen Glasmalerei', Pantheon, vol.26 (1968)
D. Hess, Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalerein in Frankfurt und im Rhein-Main-Gebiet, CVMA, Germany, vol.3/2 (Berlin, 1999)

Labels and date

SHIELD OF ARMS WITH KNIGHT SUPPORTERS

Two knights flank a shield with the imperial emblem of a double-headed eagle, on the chest of which is a small 'escutcheon of pretence' with cross. The roundel was recorded in the first half of the 19th century in Gelnhausen, east of Frankfurt, and because of the arms it is probable that it came from the house of the Order of the Teutonic Knights there. It probably decorated a window in a meeting room or hall.

Germany (Middle Rhine), about 1480; associated with the Housebook Master
Museum no. C.289-1938 [(PW) 2003]

Production Note

Made in Upper or Middle Rhine.

Subjects depicted

Diaper-work; Armour; Coats of arms; Swords; Helmets; Shields; Crosses; Knights; Banners; Escutcheon; Eagle (bird); Double headed eagle

Categories

Religion; Christianity; Stained Glass

Collection code

CER

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Qr_O85833
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