Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

1544-1548 (made)
Place Of Origin

object details
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Panel of clear and coloured glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain.
Brief Description
Panel of clear and coloured glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain. Depiciting the Emperor Charles V, dated 1644?. From the Chapel of the Holy Blood, Bruges. Made in Bruges, 1544-1548
  • Height: 183cm
  • Width: 78.5cm
Object history
The Chapel of the Holy Blood was completed in 1482. The archives of the Confraternity of the Holy Blood record several payments for glazing of this Chapel in 1483, 1496 and 1500. Unfortunately, the records do not specify for which glass or windows these payments were made. Additionally, a window with the figures of Charles V and Empress Isabel was installed in the 16th century.

In this Chapel there were 9 windows of two lights each. It is believed that 7 of the windows contained portraits and armorials of the first four Dukes of Burgundy and their wives (see list below), Mary of Burgundy and Maximilian of Hapsburg, Philip the Fair and Joanna of Aragon and, lastly, Charles the V and Isabella of Portugal.

Philip the Bold and Marguerite of Flanders

John the Fearless and Margaret of Bavaria

Philip the Good and Isabel of Portugal

Charles the Bold and Isabelle of Bourbon

In 1795 the revolutionary commissioners ordered the dismantling of the Chapel and the sale of the glass. The glass from the Chapel was sold by the municipality of Bruges to a local man for a miniscule sum who then sold them, at great profit, to an English man in the early 19th century. Drawings in the V&A, see David Thomas Powell reference, show that the glass from the Chapel (unknown if all of the glass) was in the possession of the London glass-painting firm of Watson and Bethell. Some of the glass drawn by Powell is not in the V&A's possession and their whereabouts today are not known.

In the 1802/3 account books of the Norwich glass-painter and dealer John Christoph Hampp, there are references to sums received from Watson and Bethell for purchase of imported stained glass. This could indicate their purchase of the Holy Blood glass.

The Holy Blood glass 'disappears' from the records until 1911 when it was purchased by Grosvenor Thomas, the art dealer. Thomas stated that he purchased the stained glass from a house in Kilburn, London, called 'The Grange'. The contents of this house were sold at auction in 1910 but the very detailed sale catalogue makes no reference to stained glass windows of any sort. The house was demolished in 1911. Thomas could have acquired the glass when the house was pulled down. A 1911 article by Aymer Vallance describes this glass as purchased from Kilburn Grange by Grosvenor Thomas.

Little is known of Kilburn Grange. It was built by January 1831 by Samuel Ware, architect to the Duke of Devonshire, who had designed the Burlington Arcade in Piccadilly. Ware built the house as a property speculation and seems never to have occupied it. He had a succession of tenants until 1843 when Thomas Peters, coachbuilder by royal appointment, took up permanent residency. When Ware died in 1867, Thomas Peters' son, John, bought the house outright. John died in 188? and his wife, Ada, inherited the house and contents. From the sale catalogue, it seems that the Peters family had an interest in historic furnishings. For instance, they had panelling said to have come from Christopher Wren's house in Camberwell. We can only assume that the contents, and the panelling, were the purchase and property of the Peters family and were not supplied by Samuel Ware or any of the previous, short-term, tenants.

A news report telegraphed from London to New York on 13 January 1913 states that this glass (11 panels as now in the possession of the V&A) were on their way by boat to New York. Grosvenor Thomas exhibited his stained glass collection at the Charles Gallery on Fifth Avenue in New York City. This glass was exhibited until the Autumn of 1918 when it travelled back to London and was purchased by the V&A.

This group of glass was known only as the 'Maximilian Series' until 1920 when Wilfrid Drake, business partner of Grosvenor Thomas, identified them as coming from the Chapel of the Holy Blood in Bruges.

Between 1845 and 1847, the Confraternity of the Holy Blood in Bruges commissioned a Malines glass painter, J.F. Pluys, to make replacement windows for the Chapel. It is believed that, in the absence of the original panels, he designed his windows based on 16th century watercolour drawings of the windows. These drawings are still in the possession of the Confraternity. Pluys seems to have interpreted the original scheme as being a dynastic display of the Burgundian Dukes and their Hapsburg 'successors' as he filled the last two windows with full-length portraits of Albert Archduke of Austria and and the Empress Maria Therese and her consort Francis I. These latter Hapsburgs may have had a special relationship with Bruges and the Confraternity.

J. F. Gailliard published a history of the Bruges Confraternity in 1846 and included coloured drawings of the windows.
From the Chapel of the Holy Blood, Bruges.
Subjects depicted
Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Bernard Rackham, The Stained Glass in the Chapel of the Holy Blood at Bruges, Actes du XIIe Congres International d'Histoire de l'Art, Bruxelles, 20-29 Septembre, 1930, pp.424-431
  • The Grosvenor Thomas Collection of Ancient Stained Glass, catalogue, New York, 1913
  • Aymer Vallance, 'Some Flemish Painted Glass Panels', Burlington Magazine, XIX (July 1911)
  • J. Gaillard, Recherches historiques sur las chapelle du Saint-Sang a Bruges, Bruges, 1846
  • David Thomas Powell (ac.1800-c.1837), copies (12) of stained glass from the Chapel of the Holy Blood, Bruges. Watercolours.
  • Barbara Butts and Lee Hendrix, Painting on Light: Drawings and Stained Glass in the Age of Durer and Holbein, J.Paul Getty Trust, 2000
Accession Number

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record createdAugust 4, 1998
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