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Arms of Nicolas Ruterius, Bishop of Arras

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Brabant (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1520-1525 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear and coloured glass with painted details and silver stain

  • Museum number:

    2633-1855

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case S2

This panel depicts the arms of Nicolaas Ruterius, who was Bishop of Arras from 1501 until his death in 1509. He was a dynamic religious leader and gave generously to educational institutions and to the church. He set up a college for pupils from Arras in the University of Louvain. He also endowed (made permanent provision for) a cell in the south-west corner of the Great Cloister of the Charterhouse of Louvain, and left money in his will to pay for four windows opposite the cell.

The windows were composed of panels depicting scenes from the life of his patron saint, St Nicholas. One of these is also in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Museum number: 213-1908). This panel with his coat of arms formed part of the decorative scheme. It shows the three vine leaves of his family quartered with the arms of the bishopric of Arras.

The Charterhouse in Louvain, a monastery of the Carthusian Order, was founded at the end of the 15th century by the Dukes of Burgundy. It was financed with donations from ducal family members, as well as from clerics of the surrounding areas, such as Nicolaas Ruterius, and from local residents.

Physical description

In the lower centre of the panel is a shield showing the arms of Ruterius as Bishop of Arras:
Quarterly, 1& 4: azure, 3 vine leaves or; 2 & 3: or, two crosiers addorsed in pale argent, border of rats sable. This is executed in brown/black pigment and silver stain with the quarters 1 and 4 on coloured glass.
The shield is surmounted by a bishop's mitre and emerging from the top is the head of an episcopal staff; this is flanked by the initials 'N' 'R'. Below the shield is a scroll with an inscription. The whole is encased in a round archway and painted in brown/black pigment and silver stain.

Place of Origin

Brabant (made)

Date

ca. 1520-1525 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Clear and coloured glass with painted details and silver stain

Marks and inscriptions

AEQUO EOQOE
Patiently, with resignation
The inscription has been partly restored and the letters for the second word have been re-painted incorrectly. It should read: AEQUO ANIMO.
The translation is problematic. The phrase is a standard classical Latin one meaning 'patiently, with resignation'. However, we do not know if Nicolaas Ruterius intended it this way. He could have intended it to mean 'with equal strength' or 'in equal courage'.

Dimensions

Height: 71.7 cm sight, Width: 48.3 cm sight, Weight: 3.0 kg unframed

Historical context note

The Charterhouse in Louvain was a monastery of the Carthusian Order founded at the end of the 15th century by the Dukes of Burgundy. It was financed with donations from the ducal family members as well as from clerics of the surrounding areas and local residents.

Records indicate that the cloister glazing was paid for by members of the Gillis family from Louvain. The glazier was Hendrik van Diependale and his son Jan. The work probably began early in the 16th century and carried on to the middle of the century.

A 19th century drawing of the cloister windows indicates that there were 80 windows of two lights each, surmounted by a single quatrefoil-shaped panel. The composition of each window seems to be three prophet panels surmounting four narrative panels. If this is correct, then there would originally have been 210 prophet panels and 320 narrative panels in the cloister glazing.

The theme of the cloister glazing centred on the Fall and Redemption of Mankind through the life and death of Christ. There would have been scenes from the New Testament paired with their Old Testament prefigurements. Panels depicting saints and donors would have accompanied these scenes, probably occupying the lowest registers of the windows. Additionally, prophets announcing these events would have been included in the upper portions of the windows.

Nicholass Ruterius (Nicolas de Ruistre) was Bishop of Arras from 1501 until his death in 1509. He set up a college for pupils from Arras in the University of Louvain. He also endowed a cell at the south-west corner of the Great Cloister of the Charterhouse of Louvain and paid for four windows adjacent to the cell. These were dedicated to the life of his name saint, St Nicholas. His shield, which formed part of this decorative scheme, shows the three vine leaves of his family quartered with the arms of the bishopric of Arras. This consists of two crosiers addorsed with running rats in bordure. It has a crest of mitre and crosier flanked by his initials. Below was his motto.

Nicolaas Ruterius donated eight panels for the cloister glazing scheme. This panel, one with a long inscription that seems not to have survived, and six panels depicting scenes from the life of his patron saint, St. Nicholas. One of those panels, depicting the First Miracle of St Nicholas, is also in the museum (213-1908). These eight panels originally occupied two windows in the cloister wall opposite the cell built and endowed by Nicolass in 1507.

Descriptive line

Panel depicting the arms of Nicolaas Ruterius, Bishop of Arras. Originally in the Charterhouse, Louvain. Made in Brabant, Netherlands, about 1520-5.

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

Williamson, Paul. Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2003. ISBN 1851774041
Bernard Rackham, A Guide to the Collections of Stained Glass, Victoria & Albert Museum, London. 1936
P.V. Maes, 'Nicolass Ruterius en de brandglassuite met de geschiedenis van Sint-Nicolaas', Arca Louvaniensis, vol. 2 (1973), pp.181-208
J. McNab, Flemish Renaissance Stained Glass from the Great Cloister of the Carthusian Monastery in Louvain, Belgium, Metropoloitan Museum of Art, New York, exh.guide, 1982
P.V. Maes, Leuvens Brandglas, (Arca Lovaniensis, vol.13), Leuven, 1987
Hilary Wayment, "The Master of the Mass of St. Gregory Roundel," Oud Holland, 103:2 (1989)

Production Note

From the Charterhouse of Louvain

Materials

Glass

Techniques

Pot metal; Painting; Silver staining

Subjects depicted

Leaves; Scrolls; Crosiers; Mitre; Architecture; Coats of arms; Escutcheons (coats of arms); Arches; Windows

Categories

Stained Glass; Religion; Christianity

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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