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Sts Bartholomew, St Agatha and St Stephen

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Switzerland (made)
    Rapperswil (possibly, made)
    Altdorf (possibly, made)
    Altdorf (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1624 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Klein, Josua (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear and coloured glass painted in enamels and yellow (silver) stain

  • Credit Line:

    Given by J. Pierpont Morgan, Jr

  • Museum number:

    C.47-1919

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case S3

This roundel has been attributed to the glass painter Josua Klein who was active in Altdorf and in Rapperswil, Switzerland, from the 1620s to the 1640s. His monogram appears in the scroll at the bottom of the roundel.

The saints depicted on this panel would have had special relevance to the person or people who ordered it.

St Bartholomew is on the left of the panel. He is shown with his attributes (identifying symbols), a flaying knife and his flayed skin. He was one of the Twelve Apostles, but the New Testament records very little of him. Most of our information comes from the Golden Legend, a compilation of saints’ lives written about 1260. According to this text, Bartholomew was flayed alive in Armenia (in modern-day Turkey) and then crucified.

St Agatha is in the middle, holding her severed breasts on a book. She was a practising Christian who probably lived during the persecutions under the Roman emperor Decius (ruled 249–51). She was tortured and had her breasts cut off. Tradition relates that she lived in Sicily.

St Stephen was one of the first deacons of the emerging Christian church. In the New Testament book of Acts he is described as a popular preacher. However, the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, accused him of blasphemy and stoned him to death. He is usually shown holding or even wearing stones. St. Stephen is known as the 'protomartyr'. He was the first to die for his belief in Christianity. His feast day is 26 December and is now commemorated as 'Boxing Day' in Great Britain.

In the middle of the 16th century new techniques for producing decorated glass were introduced. Glass paints known as ‘enamels’ were painted directly onto the glass. The colours were produced by adding metallic oxides to a glass frit mixture. The resulting colour range included strong purples, greens and blues, as we see here. Lead lines are still used to form part of the design, but the imagery is primarily a painted one.

Physical description

Roundel of stained and painted glass. St. Bartholomew, St. Agatha and St. Stephen within a wreath. At the top is an inscription in Old German in verse.

Place of Origin

Switzerland (made)
Rapperswil (possibly, made)
Altdorf (possibly, made)
Altdorf (possibly, made)

Date

1624 (made)

Artist/maker

Klein, Josua (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Clear and coloured glass painted in enamels and yellow (silver) stain

Marks and inscriptions

O Min diirddrt \hr. Jesu Christ.
Der die fur uns gestorben bist
Durch din Lydern und bittern Tod,
Bhuet uns for fur und wasser noht, t/
Maria Gottes Muetter schon
zu mohten theron uns auchbiston +
St. Agatha du Jungfrau kein,
Lass unss dir allzijt befolcken+ sein
Durch din Lyden also Standhafft,
Bhuet+ dise lobliche Bruderschafft
Located at the top of the panel

Ein Lobliche geselloschafft der Mul/
leren und Pfisteren Anno 1624
Located at the base of the panel on a sxroll

Dimensions

Diameter: 33.0 cm sight, Height: 36.1 cm framed, Width: 36.3 cm framed, Depth: 3.2 cm framed, Weight: 2.0 kg framed

Object history note

From the former collection in the Palace of Prince Frederick Leopold of Prussia in Berlin (this information supplied by Dr. Paul Boesch, R.P. 52/315).
On loan to to V&A from J. Pierpont Morgan Sr and given to the museum by his son in 1919.
In the corner of the scroll is the monogram SK ('S' with a stroke through it).
At time of acquisition SK was thought to be 'Johannes Kachler (1597-1628)' who worked in Uri. A later hand has written 'Josua Klein'.
Dr. H. Lehman informed us that Klein was a glass painter in Altdorf around 1621, then in Rapperswill around 1637 and back in Altdorf around 1659.

Historical context note

In the middle of the sixteenth century, new techniques for producing decorated glass had been introduced. Glass paints known as 'enamels' were used to paint directly onto the glass. The colours were produced by adding metallic oxides to a glass frit mixture and the resulting colour range included strong purples, greens and blues as we see here. Lead lines are still used in this panel to form part of the design but the imagery is primarily a painted one.

The saints depicted on this panel would have had special relevance to the person or people who commissioned it.

St. Bartholomew is on the left of the panel. He is shown with his attributes of the flaying knife and his flayed skin which can be seen at this feet. Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles. The New Testament records very little of him and most of our information comes from a 13th century compilation of Saints' Lives known as the 'Golden Legend'. According to this text, Bartholomew was flayed alive in Armenia (in modern day Turkey) and then crucified.

St. Agatha is in the middle, holding her severed breasts on a book. She was believed to have lived in Sicily in the middle of the 13th century. Agatha was a practicing Christian during the time of the persecutions under the Emperor Decius. She was tortured and had her breasts cut off.

St. Stephen is traditionally held to be one of the first deacons of the emerging Christian faith shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He is reported in the Book of Acts in the New Testament and is described as a popular preacher. However, his teachings were misinterpreted by the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, and they accused him of blasphemy, a charge punishable by death. Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin to answer these charges and was put to death by stoning. He is most often shown holding or even wearing stones.

Descriptive line

Clear and coloured glass painted with enamels and yellow (silver) stain. Depicting Saints Bartholomew, Agatha and Stephen. Atrributed to the workshop of Josua Klein in Altdorf or in Rapperswil, Switzerland, dated 1624.

Production Note

The date of 1624 on the panel may commemorate an event rather than being a reference to the date of construction.

Materials

Glass

Techniques

Staining; Painting

Categories

Religion; Christianity; Stained Glass

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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