Art and Architecture

Painted glass

Christ leading the Gentiles (Canterbury Cathedral)The earliest painted glass of the post-Conquest period in England dates from the second half of the 12th century and the largest collections are in Canterbury cathedral and York Minster.

Glass was made from sand and a number of other materials including wood ash. The painted details were applied to the surface of the glass with a brush using pigments made from metal oxides mixed with powdered glass and gum arabic. Each piece of painted glass was St Nicholas (York Minster)fired in a kiln at about 700 so as to fuse the pigment in place. The pieces were then fitted together with lead strips to complete the window.

The Tree of Jesse (Canterbury Cathedral)At York Minster over 50 panels of Romanesque glass survive, although not in their original windows. Eight or more iconographic series are represented, the themes including the Last Judgement and lives of the saints. The style of painting reflects the influence of both northern French and local artistic traditions; for example the rendering of the human figure is similar to that seen in sculpture from St Mary's Abbey in the city.

Jesus Christ from CanterburyAt Canterbury a major glazing programme took place in 1184 - 1220 in the Trinity Chapel and Corona, built after the fire of 1174. Some of the glass is in its original position including parts of two windows in the north choir aisle which include scenes from a popular medieval text, the Biblia Pauperum (poor man's bible) which demonstrated how events of the Old Testament anticipated events in the New. There is also a window showing part of a Tree of Jesse, thought to have been a gift from Richard I.

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