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Saints James the Greater and Thomas

  • Object:

    Panel

  • Place of origin:

    Switzerland (made)

  • Date:

    1618 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Clear glass painted with enamel colours and yellow (silver) stain

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mr. Walter Guthrie

  • Museum number:

    C.236-1934

  • Gallery location:

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

The inscription identifies this figure as ‘St James the Less’, but he carries a builder’s rule, which shows instead that he is St Thomas. Either the painter of the panel made a mistake or the inscription has been inserted from another panel.

St Thomas was one of the Twelve Apostles, whom Christ appointed as his special disciples. Thomas is often referred to as ‘Doubting Thomas’, because he refused to believe the others when they told him that they had seen the Resurrected Christ. His faith was confirmed when Christ appeared and invited him to touch his wounds. After the Ascension, the Apostles spread throughout the lands of the Roman empire, preaching the new faith. Tradition has long held that Thomas travelled as far as India and that he was martyred at Mylapore, near Madras (now Chennai).

The saints of the Christian church can often be identified by a device, which is known as their ‘attribute’. In this panel St Thomas holds a builder’s rule. According to the Golden Legend, an influential compilation of saints’ lives written about 1260, Thomas was invited to India to build a palace for King Gondophorous, who gave him enormous funds. Instead, Thomas gave the money to the poor and told the king that he would build him ‘a heavenly palace’ in the Kingdom of Heaven.

St Thomas had great success in converting the people and the royal family, but this upset the pagan high priest, who killed him with a spear or dagger.

Physical description

Panel of painted glass. St. Thomas. The saint stands, in white robe and yellow mantle, holding in his right hand a builder's rule, in his left an open book, on a pavement between two renaissance columns. The name 'S. Jacob der gleiner' inscribed below may be due to a misunderstanding of the appropriate emblems of the saints, or it may be an insertion from another panel (St. James the Less) of the same series; bunches of fruit in openings of a pierced architrave ablove. Painting in blue, green, reddish-brown and black enamel and silver yellow stain.

Place of Origin

Switzerland (made)

Date

1618 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Clear glass painted with enamel colours and yellow (silver) stain

Marks and inscriptions

S.Jacob der gleiner

Dimensions

Height: 26.2 cm framed, Width: 18.7 cm framed, Depth: 3.2 cm framed

Historical context note

The inscription identifies the figure as 'St. James the Less'. However, the attribute carried by the saint, a builder's rule, clearly identifies him as St Thomas. Either the painter of the panel made a mistake or the inscription is an insertion from another panel.

St Thomas is one of the Twelve Apostles, appointed by Christ himself as his special disciples and given charge of the spreading of Christ's teachings after his death. Thomas is often referred to as 'Doubting Thomas' because he refused to believe the other Apostles who had seen Christ after his Resurrection. His faith was confirmed when Christ appeared to him and Thomas touched his wounds. After the death of Christ and in accordance with his instructions, the Apostles spread throughout the lands of the Roman Empire preaching the emerging new faith. Tradition has longed held that Thomas travelled as far as India and that he was martyred at Mylapore, near Madras.

The saints of the Christian church can often be identified by a device which is known as their 'attribute'. In this panel St Thomas holds a builder's rule. According to the Golden Legend, an influential manuscript of saints' lives compiled in the middle of the 13th century, Thomas was invited to India to build a palace for King Gondophorous. He was given enormous funds to do this. Thomas gave the money to the poor instead and told the King that he would build him 'a heavenly palace' in the Kingdom of Heaven.

St Thomas was having much success in converting the people and the royal family but by doing so he upset the pagan high priest who killed him with a spear or dagger.

Descriptive line

Panel of clear glass painted with enamel colours and yellow (silver) stain. Depicting St. Thomas. Made in Switzerland, dated 1618.

Labels and date

SAINTS JAMES THE GREATER AND THOMAS

St Thomas is clearly identified by his attribute, the builder's rule; the inscription below the figure, referring to St James the Less, is therefore either a misunderstanding on the part of the glass-painter or an insertion from another panel. The Museum possesses two further panels from the same series, of Sts Andrew and Philip (Museum nos. C.234, C.237-1934).

Switzerland, dated 1618
Museum nos. C.235, C.236-1934; Guthrie Bequest [(PW) 2003]

Categories

Religion; Christianity; Stained Glass

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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