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The historical past of stained glass

Stained glass is an historic artwork kind, which has positively turn out to be much less well-liked in trendy buildings, however stays coveted in antiques. Let’s dive into the historical past, the way it’s completed, and a few of the most unimaginable stained glass examples world wide. 

“Stained glass” refers to glass that has been coloured by metallic oxides throughout the manufacturing course of. Completely different components produce completely different hues, permitting artisans to strategically produce glass of particular colours. For instance, including copper oxides to molten glass will culminate in inexperienced and blue tones. As soon as the glass has cooled, it may be pieced collectively to provide works of ornamental artwork. These fragments may be held in place by numerous supplies, together with lead, stone, and copper foil.The colored glass is crafted into stained glass home windows during which small items of glass are organized to kind patterns or photos, held collectively (historically) by strips of lead and supported by a inflexible body. Painted particulars and yellow stain are sometimes used to boost the design. The time period stained glass can also be utilized to home windows in enamelled glass during which the colors have been painted onto the glass after which fused to the glass in a kiln; fairly often this system is barely utilized to components of a window.  All through its thousand-year historical past, the time period has been utilized nearly solely to the home windows of church buildings and different vital non secular buildings. Though historically made in flat panels and used as home windows, the creations of recent stained glass artists additionally embody three-dimensional constructions and sculpture. Trendy vernacular utilization has usually prolonged the time period “stained glass” to incorporate home lead gentle and objets d’artwork created from foil glasswork exemplified within the well-known lamps of Louis Consolation Tiffany.

Proof of stained glass dates again to the Historical Roman Empire, when craftsman started utilizing coloured glass to provide ornamental wares. Whereas few absolutely in-tact stained glass items from this era exist, the Lycurgus Cup signifies that this follow emerged as early because the 4th century. Stained glass, as an artwork and a craft, requires the creative ability to conceive an acceptable and workable design, and the engineering expertise to assemble the piece. A window should match snugly into the house for which it’s made, should resist wind and rain, and likewise, particularly within the bigger home windows, should help its personal weight. Many massive home windows have withstood the take a look at of time and remained considerably intact for the reason that Late Center Ages. In Western Europe, along with illuminated manuscripts, they represent the key type of medieval pictorial artwork to have survived. On this context, the aim of a stained glass window is to not permit these inside a constructing to see the world outdoors and even primarily to confess gentle however somewhat to regulate it. For that reason stained glass home windows have been described as “illuminated wall decorations”.


The Historical past of Stained Glass

In the course of the late medieval interval, glass factories have been arrange the place there was a prepared provide of silica, the important materials for glass manufacture. Silica requires a really excessive temperature to soften, one thing not all glass factories have been in a position to obtain. Such supplies as potash, soda, and lead may be added to decrease the melting temperature. Different substances, similar to lime, are added to rebuild the weakened community and make the glass extra secure. Glass is colored by including metallic oxide powders or finely divided metals whereas it’s in a molten state. Copper oxides produce inexperienced or bluish inexperienced, cobalt makes deep blue, and gold produces wine pink and violet glass. A lot of recent pink glass is produced utilizing copper, which is inexpensive than gold and offers a brighter, extra vermilion shade of pink. Glass colored whereas within the clay pot within the furnace is called pot metallic glass, versus flashed glass. 

Many histories of stained glass start with Pliny’s story of the unintentional discovery of glass by Phoenician sailors. The legend recounts shipwrecked sailors who set their cooking pots on blocks of natron (soda) from their cargo then constructed a fireplace below it on the seashore. Within the morning, the hearth’s warmth had melted the sand and soda combination. The resultant mass had cooled and hardened into glass. In the present day, although, it’s thought that Pliny — although energetic in gathering materials — was not very scientifically dependable. It’s extra possible that Egyptian or Mesopotamian potters by chance found glass when firing their vessels. The earliest recognized artifical glass is within the type of Egyptian beads from between 2750 and 2625 BC. Artisans made these beads by winding a skinny string of molten glass round a detachable clay core. This glass is opaque and really treasured. Within the first century AD, the Romans glazed glass into home windows. They solid glass slabs and employed blowing methods to spin discs and made cylinder glass. The glass was irregular and never very clear.  One of many oldest recognized examples of a number of items of coloured glass utilized in a window have been unearthed at St. Paul’s Monastery in Jarrow, England, based in 686 AD.

The way it’s Made

1. Cylinder glass or Muff

Utilizing a blow-pipe, a “collect” (glob) of molten glass is taken from the pot heating within the furnace. The collect is fashioned to the right form and a bubble of air blown into it. Utilizing metallic instruments, molds of wooden which have been soaking in water, and gravity, the collect is manipulated to kind a protracted, cylindrical form. Because it cools, it’s reheated in order that the manipulation can proceed. In the course of the course of, the underside of the cylinder is eliminated. As soon as delivered to the specified dimension it’s left to chill. One facet of the cylinder is opened. It’s put into one other oven to shortly warmth and flatten it, after which positioned in an annealer to chill at a managed charge, making the fabric extra secure. “Hand-blown” cylinder (additionally known as muff glass) and crown glass have been the categories utilized in historic stained-glass home windows. Stained glass home windows have been usually in church buildings and chapels in addition to many extra nicely revered buildings.

2. Crown glass

This hand-blown glass is created by blowing a bubble of air right into a collect of molten glass after which spinning it, both by hand or on a desk that revolves quickly like a potter’s wheel. The centrifugal pressure causes the molten bubble to open up and flatten. It will possibly then be reduce into small sheets. Glass fashioned this fashion may be both colored and used for stained-glass home windows, or uncoloured as seen in small paned home windows in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-century homes. Concentric, curving waves are attribute of the method. The centre of every piece of glass, often known as the “bull’s-eye”, is topic to much less acceleration throughout spinning, so it stays thicker than the remainder of the sheet. It additionally has the pontil mark, a particular lump of glass left by the “pontil” rod, which holds the glass as it’s spun out. This lumpy, refractive high quality means the bulls-eyes are much less clear, however they’ve nonetheless been used for home windows, each home and ecclesiastical. Crown glass remains to be made in the present day, however not on a big scale. 

3. Rolled glass

This method may be completed by hand or by machine. Glass may be “double rolled”, which implies it’s handed by two cylinders directly (just like the garments wringers on older washing machines) to yield glass of a specified thickness (usually about 1/8″ or 3mm). The glass is then annealed. Rolled glass was first commercially produced across the mid-1830s and is extensively used in the present day. It’s usually known as cathedral glass, however this has nothing to do with medieval cathedrals, the place the glass used was hand-blown.

4. Flashed glass

Architectural glass have to be not less than 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) thick to outlive the push and pull of typical wind hundreds. Nonetheless, within the creation of pink glass, the colouring components have to be of a sure focus, or the color won’t develop. This leads to a color so intense that on the thickness of 1/8 inch (3 mm), the pink glass transmits little gentle and seems black. The tactic employed is to laminate a skinny layer of pink glass to a thicker physique of glass that’s clear or flippantly tinted, forming “flashed glass”.

A flippantly colored molten collect is dipped right into a pot of molten pink glass, which is then blown right into a sheet of laminated glass utilizing both the cylinder (muff) or the crown approach described above. As soon as this technique was discovered for making pink glass, different colors have been made this fashion as nicely. An ideal benefit is that the double-layered glass may be engraved or abraded to disclose the clear or tinted glass beneath. The tactic permits wealthy detailing and patterns to be achieved without having so as to add extra lead-lines, giving artists larger freedom of their designs. Numerous artists have embraced the chances flashed glass offers them. As an illustration, Sixteenth-century heraldic home windows relied closely on quite a lot of flashed colors for his or her intricate crests and creatures. Within the medieval interval the glass was abraded; later, hydrofluoric acid was used to take away the flash in a chemical response (a really harmful approach), and within the nineteenth century sandblasting began for use for this function. 

10 of the Most Iconic Stained Glass Examples

1.Tiffany Lamp

A Tiffany lamp is a kind of lamp with a camed glass shade designed by Louis Consolation Tiffany or colleagues, and made (in originals) in his design studio. The glass within the lampshades is put along with the copper foil approach as a substitute of leaded, the basic approach for stained glass home windows. Tiffany lamps are thought-about a part of the Artwork Nouveau motion. A substantial variety of designs have been produced, from 1893 onwards. As a consequence of Tiffany’s dominant affect on the type, the time period ‘Tiffany lamp’ or ‘Tiffany type lamp’ has been usually used to discuss with stained leaded glass lamps, even these not made by Louis Consolation Tiffany’s firm. The primary Tiffany lamp was exhibited in 1893 and is assumed to have been made in that yr. Every lamp was handmade by expert craftsmen, not mass- or machine-produced. Its designer was not, as had been thought for over 100 years, Louis Consolation Tiffany, however a beforehand unrecognized artist named Clara Driscoll who was recognized in 2007 by Rutgers professor Martin Eidelberg as being the grasp designer behind essentially the most inventive and invaluable leaded glass lamps produced by Tiffany Studios. 

2. Saint Chapelle Paris

A gem of Gothic type, the Saint Chapelle in Paris was in-built seven years, a powerful feat. The Sainte Chapelle was meant to accommodate treasured Christian relics, together with Christ’s crown of thorns, acquired by Saint Louis. Having these sacred relics in his possession made the already highly effective monarch head of western Christianity. Beautiful stained glass is a predominant function of the constructing: organized throughout 15 home windows, every 15 metres excessive, the stained glass panes depict 1,113 scenes from the Previous and New Testaments recounting the historical past of the world till the arrival of the relics in Paris. Together with the Conciergerie, the Sainte-Chapelle is without doubt one of the earliest surviving buildings of the Capetian royal palace on the Île de la Cité. Though broken throughout the French Revolution and restored within the nineteenth century, it has probably the most in depth Thirteenth-century stained glass collections wherever on the planet. The Sainte-Chapelle is now not a church. It was secularised after the French Revolution, and is now operated by the French Centre of Nationwide Monuments, together with the close by Conciergerie, the opposite remaining vestige of the unique palace. The stained glass was eliminated and positioned into secure storage throughout World Battle II. In 1945 a layer of exterior varnish had been utilized to guard the glass from the mud and scratches of wartime bombing. This had steadily darkened, making the already fading pictures even more durable to see.  In 2008, a extra complete seven-year programme of restoration started, costing some €10 million to wash and protect all of the stained glass, clear the facade stonework and preserve and restore a few of the sculptures. Half of the funding was supplied by personal donors, the opposite half coming from the Villum Basis.  Included within the restoration was an progressive thermoformed glass layer utilized outdoors the stained-glass home windows for added safety. The restoration of the flamboyant rose window on the west facade was accomplished in 2015 in time for the 800th anniversary of the start of St. Louis.

3. Nazir Ol-Molk Mosque 

This unimaginable instance of stained glass is a conventional mosque in Shiraz, Iran. It was constructed throughout Qajar dynasty rule of Iran. The mosque contains in depth colored glass in its facade, and shows different conventional parts such because the Panj Kāse (“5 concaved”) design. It’s nonetheless in use below safety by the Endowment Basis of Nasir al Molk. Building started in 1876 by the order of Mirza Hassan Ali Nasir-ol-Mulk, one of many lords and aristocrats of Shiraz, the son of Ali Akbar Qavam al-Mulk, the kalantar of Shiraz and was accomplished in 1888. The designers have been Mohammad Hasan-e-Memār, an Persian architect. Though stained glass is usually well-liked in church buildings these days, the earliest found was in Syria from the seventh century. We do have proof of methods and recipes for acquiring stained glass by the Arabic chemist Jabir ibn Hayyan in his e-book Kitab al-Durra al-maknuna (The Ebook of the Hidden Pearl) printed within the eighth century CE. Orsi home windows are home windows made from a mix of wooden and colourful glass within the Safavid and the Qajar dynasties. Orsi differs from stained glass utilized in many church buildings and Ottoman mosques, which function illuminated pictures somewhat than a supply of sunshine. Gentle is a serious function in lots of mosques contemplating it being a serious image of God in Islam. The impact on this mosque is vibrant multicoloured gentle that pours into the within, in lovely patterns, however with no representational depictions. It pairs superbly with the detailed paint work on the remainder of the constructing. 

4. Chicago Cultural Centre

The Chicago Cultural Middle, opened in 1897, is a Chicago Landmark constructing operated by Chicago’s Division of Cultural Affairs and Particular Occasions that homes the town’s official reception venue the place the Mayor of Chicago has welcomed Presidents and royalty, diplomats and group leaders.  Initially the central library constructing, it was transformed in 1977 to an arts and tradition heart on the instigation of Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Lois Weisberg.  Because the nation’s first free municipal cultural heart, the Chicago Cultural Middle is without doubt one of the metropolis’s hottest sights and is taken into account probably the most complete arts showcases in the USA. Annually, the Chicago Cultural Middle options greater than 1,000 applications and exhibitions masking a variety of the performing, visible and literary arts. It additionally serves as headquarters for the Chicago Youngsters’s Choir. MB Actual Property supplies occasions administration for the middle. The constructing was designed by Boston architectural agency Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge for the town’s central library, and Grand Military of the Republic (GAR) assembly corridor and memorial in 1892. The land was donated by the GAR and the constructing was accomplished in 1897 at a value of practically $2 million (equal to $65.14 million in 2021). It’s organized as a 4-story north wing, and a 5-story south wing, 104 ft tall, with 3-foot-thick masonry partitions confronted with Bedford Blue Limestone on a granite base, and designed in a typically neoclassical type with Italian Renaissance parts. It’s capped with two stained-glass domes, set symmetrically atop the 2 wings. The outside of the constructing is comparatively easy, whereas very stately, however the inside is characterised by a large dome crammed with stained glass that creates a breath taking impact. 

5. Cathedral of Brasilia 

Designed by the acclaimed brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, the Cathedral of Brasília is an nearly crown-like hyperboloid construction that seems pinned to the bottom. The constructing’s look, with its hanging form and lovely stained glass ceiling, is simply as intriguing as its historical past. The cornerstone for the Cathedral of Brasília was laid in September 1958. The primary body of the cathedral was accomplished two years later, however then, as with many building tasks in Brasília at the moment, all the pieces floor to a halt. The Cathedral of Brasília is undeniably a powerful sight. Its exterior is dominated by 16 curved concrete columns (Niemeyer beloved curves), every weighing 90 tons. These curve inwards, assembly briefly earlier than branching again outwards and upwards to present the construction its hyperboloid, or hourglass, form. It bears some resemblance to a white crown, or crown of thorns, on this case rising as much as a peak of about 131 ft. Close to the doorway to the cathedral stand 4 bronze sculptures representing the 4 Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Every is about 9.8 ft tall. Contained in the cathedral’s spacious inside dangle three angel sculptures by Alfredo Ceschiatti and Dante Croce. These vary from 7.3 ft to 14 ft tall and dangle above the nave of the cathedral. Above them is the cathedral’s colourful stained-glass ceiling, composed of a collection of 98-feet-high triangles.

6. Netherlands Institute for Sound and Imaginative and prescient

For the reason that finish of 2006, Sound & Imaginative and prescient has been positioned in a spectacular constructing on the Media Park in Hilversum. The constructing itself, with its distinctive glass facade, spectacular canyon and hanging atrium is already value a go to. The structure displays the mission and the group of Sound & Imaginative and prescient.Sound & Imaginative and prescient arose in 1997 from a merger of three audiovisual archives and a museum, with the duty of ‘managing and preserving the Dutch audiovisual heritage and making it accessible to a large viewers’. To be able to fulfill this mission, it was mandatory to maneuver from 9 places in six municipalities to at least one central location. Graphic designer Jaap Drupsteen, along with glass firm Saint Gobain and TNO, realized the masking of the 4 glass facades. On the surface of the sq. constructing you possibly can see what’s within it. Drupsteen chosen 768 pictures from the Sound & Imaginative and prescient assortment after which abstracted them to forestall the outer partitions from changing into too anecdotal. Every of the 2244 glass panels has a novel reduction and colour sample. These glass panels kind a type of ‘second pores and skin’ across the constructing. To allow cleansing of the panels, they are often rotated. On the workplace facet there are fully clear glass panels between the coloured panels. On this means, the workers have sufficient daylight of their workplaces.

7. La Sagrada Familia

Whenever you examine the construction of architect Antoni Gaudí’s Temple in Barcelona, Spain and examine it to how Gothic cathedrals work, you possibly can clearly perceive the grasp’s intention of surpassing this type. And he actually did so, eliminating exterior parts, similar to buttresses and flying buttresses, which he believed have been like crutches. He additionally pushes the bounds of the shape with the stained-glass home windows created for the Basilica, that are so necessary in making a transcendent ambiance and place for reflection and introspection. In brief, a temple. Fairly often, essentially the most vibrant a part of a Gothic cathedral is the best reaches of the stained-glass home windows, the place there may be extra unobstructed daylight outdoors. Within the decrease sections, nonetheless, the place there could also be shadows of bushes or different buildings, the color filter is much less intense. This distribution usually goals to offset one impact with the opposite, looking for a form of steadiness, so that there’s much less filter the place there may be much less gentle and vice versa. On the Sagrada Família, nonetheless, it’s simply the other: Gaudí sought out most distinction. Essentially the most clear stained-glass home windows are these highest up, in order that the sunshine can stream in and illuminate the mosaics and golden vaults that characterise the nave. Nonetheless, the illustrations and texts are within the decrease home windows, the place guests can see and browse them higher. The choice he selected for the Sagrada Família, nonetheless, was leaded glass, backed by greater than six-hundred years of expertise. The lead traces that divide the window into small items permit them to maneuver, broaden and contract, in addition to making it attainable to decide on simply the appropriate color for every bit. These lead traces, laid down between the small items of glass, turn out to be H formed when stress is utilized in order that they maintain the glass on both facet tightly. In the long run, each the approach and illustration within the Sagrada Familia stained glass home windows is exclusive and fully progressive for its time.

8. Palau de la Música Catalana

The Palau de la Música Catalana was constructed between 1905 and 1908 by the modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner as a house for the Orfeó Català, financed by well-liked subscription. The constructing is positioned in Sant Pere district, probably the most lovely areas of Barcelona. The Palau de la Música Catalana is an architectural jewel of Catalan Artwork Nouveau, the one live performance venue on this type to be listed as a World Heritage Website by UNESCO (4th December 1997), which in the present day represents a vital landmark within the cultural and social lifetime of Catalonia. Furthermore it represents a symbolic emotional heritage for a complete individuals who determine with its historical past. The modernist constructing is designed round a central metallic construction lined in glass, which exploits pure gentle to make the make Domènech i Montaner’s masterpiece into  a magical music field which brings collectively all the ornamental arts: sculpture, mosaic, stained glass and ironwork. The rich residents of Barcelona, who have been changing into ever extra sympathetic to the Renaixença on the time the palace was constructed, requested its architect for constructing supplies and methods that symbolized the Catalan character. In response, he commissioned and gave nice inventive freedom to quite a lot of native artisans and craftsmen to provide the fabulous ornamentation, sculpture, and ornamental structural parts for which the palace is known. The uncovered pink brick and iron, the mosaics, the stained glass, and the glazed tiles have been chosen and located to present a sense of openness and transparency. Even Miguel Blay’s large sculptural group symbolizing Catalan music on the nook of the constructing doesn’t impede the view into or out from the inside. 

9. Notre Dame de Paris 

Notre-Dame de Paris, referred to easily as Notre-Dame, is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité, within the 4th arrondissement of Paris. The cathedral, devoted to the Virgin Mary, is taken into account one of many most interesting examples of French Gothic structure. The stained glass home windows of Notre-Dame, notably the three rose home windows, are among the many most well-known options of the cathedral. The west rose window, over the portals, was the primary and smallest of the roses in Notre-Dame. It’s 9.6 metres in diameter, and was made in about 1225, with the items of glass set in a thick round stone body. Not one of the authentic glass stays on this window; it was recreated within the nineteenth century.  The 2 transept home windows are bigger and comprise a larger proportion of glass than the rose on the west façade, as a result of the brand new system of buttresses made the nave partitions thinner and stronger. The north rose was created in about 1250, and the south rose in about 1260. The south rose within the transept is especially notable for its dimension and artistry.

The south rose has 94 medallions, organized in 4 circles, depicting scenes from the lifetime of Christ and people who witnessed his time on earth. Extra scenes within the corners across the rose window embody Jesus’ Descent into Hell, Adam and Eve, the Resurrection of Christ. Saint Peter and Saint Paul are on the backside of the window, and Mary Magdalene and John the Apostle on the prime. The south rose had a tough historical past. In 1543 it was broken by the settling of the masonry partitions, and never restored till 1725–1727. It was severely broken within the French Revolution of 1830. Rioters burned the residence of the archbishop, subsequent to the cathedral, and most of the panes have been destroyed. The window was fully rebuilt by Viollet-le-Duc in 1861. He rotated the window by fifteen levels to present it a transparent vertical and horizontal axis, and changed the destroyed items of glass with new glass in the identical type. The window in the present day accommodates each medieval and nineteenth century glass. 

10. St. Joseph’s Church, Le Havre, France

The Neo-Gothic church was constructed within the Nineteen Fifties within the French port metropolis as a tribute to the 5,000 residents who died throughout World Battle II, when the city was practically fully destroyed. Architect Auguste Perret was instrumental within the plan to rebuild the town and designed the church, which incorporates a 350-foot spire lined with stained glass. The church was designed by the chief architect for the reconstruction of Le Havre, Perret, who was the trainer and mentor to the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. A centrally-planned constructing, Saint Joseph’s Church was envisioned as a beacon for the town. The church’s single, central tower dominates the town skyline, simply seen from the town’s port. Perret’s imaginative and prescient created a constructing resembling a lantern, now fondly known as the “lantern tower” or the “lighthouse on the coronary heart of the town.” Manufactured from concrete, St Joseph’s is a product of recent architectural innovation in Publish-Battle France. The tower is 107 meters tall and acts as a beacon seen from out at sea, particularly at night time when illuminated. Perret introduced in his earlier colleague Marguerite Huré (1896-1967) for the stained glass within the new church. Their most notable collaborations have been the Église Notre-Dame du Raincy and Saint Joseph’s church in Le Havre. Huré contributed to the rebirth of sacred artwork in France within the early twentieth century by her introduction of abstraction into non secular stained glass. She developed a method sans pictures or phrases, utilizing colour to convey her desired theme—a lot in the best way music conveys feeling by way of sound. Huré and Perret shared a want to reject ornamental artwork in desire of constructive artwork that was collectively understated but awe-inspiring and instructed a narrative or promoted additional enchancment/development. The compact nave’s architectural traces lead the attention to the altar after which as much as a three-tiered, sq. base with triangular supporting constructions. The triangular helps level the attention to the octagonal column that makes up nearly all of the tower. A singular, chunky, spiral staircase rises from the bottom of the octagonal shaft to the bell room. Separated into 18 layers, both sides of layers 2 to 17 reveals an equivalent, geometric sample made from wooden and elongated stained glass. Revived within the nineteenth century, Huré used the “vintage” glass making approach that entails mouth-blowing the coloured glass to attain the specified form.  The repeated sample displays Huré’s dedication to the symbolic energy of colour and her rejection of iconographic illustration.


Hardly ever equalled and by no means surpassed, the nice stained-glass home windows of the twelfth and early Thirteenth centuries truly predate vital technical advances within the glassmaker’s craft by greater than half a century. And far as these advances undoubtedly contributed to the delicacy and refinement of the stained glass of the later Center Ages, not solely have been they unable to arrest the decline of the artwork, however they could somewhat have hastened it to the extent that they tempted the stained-glass artist to vie with the fresco and easel painter within the naturalistic rendition of their topics. In modern occasions, stained glass as an artwork kind and architectural function is uncommon, however it’s nonetheless seen fairly often due to its predominance in antiquity. 


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