This chapter deals with the origins of stained glass: why, when, and what was used to screen the windows in buildings before c. year 1000. Archaeological finds made in the last few decades have confirmed what was hinted by textual sources and by occasional finds: glass was indeed employed in the windows before the High Middle Ages, although it was cut in geometrical shapes and did not show any painting. While Roman and late Roman buildings – baths, private dwellings, then Christian basilicas – have shown remains of geometrical panes, the earliest instances of figurative stained-glass windows, made with panels cut like sectilia, date to the early eight century and have been found in Merovingian France and Anglo-Saxon England. A large fragment of what is by now the earliest figurative window in the West with its original leading, in which pieces of coloured glass are held together to create the bust of Christ – still like an opus sectile, with no painting on it – has come to light in 2007 in a central-Italian monastery destroyed in 881 AD. The appearance of the painting called grisaille, with which it was possible to achieve more detailed figurative designs than simply by juxtaposing geometrically cut panes, is instead to be localized in the northern Carolingian domain, and dated after the mid-eighth century. The contemporary evolution of window screens in Byzantium and in Islam will also be taken into account in a comparative approach.

Early History of Stained Glass

F. Dell'Acqua
2019-01-01

Abstract

This chapter deals with the origins of stained glass: why, when, and what was used to screen the windows in buildings before c. year 1000. Archaeological finds made in the last few decades have confirmed what was hinted by textual sources and by occasional finds: glass was indeed employed in the windows before the High Middle Ages, although it was cut in geometrical shapes and did not show any painting. While Roman and late Roman buildings – baths, private dwellings, then Christian basilicas – have shown remains of geometrical panes, the earliest instances of figurative stained-glass windows, made with panels cut like sectilia, date to the early eight century and have been found in Merovingian France and Anglo-Saxon England. A large fragment of what is by now the earliest figurative window in the West with its original leading, in which pieces of coloured glass are held together to create the bust of Christ – still like an opus sectile, with no painting on it – has come to light in 2007 in a central-Italian monastery destroyed in 881 AD. The appearance of the painting called grisaille, with which it was possible to achieve more detailed figurative designs than simply by juxtaposing geometrically cut panes, is instead to be localized in the northern Carolingian domain, and dated after the mid-eighth century. The contemporary evolution of window screens in Byzantium and in Islam will also be taken into account in a comparative approach.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11386/4727965
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