The historical past of stained glass

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Stained glass is an historical artwork type, which has undoubtedly grow to be much less in style in fashionable buildings, however stays coveted in antiques. Let’s dive into the historical past, the way it’s finished, and a number of the most unbelievable stained glass examples world wide. 

“Stained glass” refers to glass that has been coloured by metallic oxides through the manufacturing course of. Completely different components produce totally 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 through which small items of glass are organized to type patterns or footage, held collectively (historically) by strips of lead and supported by a inflexible body. Painted particulars and yellow stain are sometimes used to reinforce the design. The time period stained glass can also be utilized to home windows in enamelled glass through which the colors have been painted onto the glass after which fused to the glass in a kiln; fairly often this method is just utilized to elements 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 spiritual buildings. Though historically made in flat panels and used as home windows, the creations of recent stained glass artists additionally embrace three-dimensional constructions and sculpture. Trendy vernacular utilization has typically prolonged the time period “stained glass” to incorporate home lead mild 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 Historic Roman Empire, when craftsman started utilizing coloured glass to provide ornamental wares. Whereas few totally in-tact stained glass items from this era exist, the Lycurgus Cup signifies that this observe emerged as early because the 4th century. Stained glass, as an artwork and a craft, requires the inventive ability to conceive an acceptable and workable design, and the engineering abilities to assemble the piece. A window should match snugly into the house for which it’s made, should resist wind and rain, and in addition, particularly within the bigger home windows, should assist 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 foremost 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 exterior and even primarily to confess mild however quite to regulate it. Because of this stained glass home windows have been described as “illuminated wall decorations”.


The Historical past of Stained Glass

Through 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, corresponding to lime, are added to rebuild the weakened community and make the glass extra steady. 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 crimson and violet glass. A lot of recent crimson glass is produced utilizing copper, which is cheaper than gold and provides a brighter, extra vermilion shade of crimson. Glass colored whereas within the clay pot within the furnace is named pot metallic glass, versus flashed glass. 

Many histories of stained glass start with Pliny’s story of the unintended 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 beneath 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. At the moment, although, it’s thought that Pliny — although energetic in amassing materials — was not very scientifically dependable. It’s extra seemingly that Egyptian or Mesopotamian potters by accident found glass when firing their vessels. The earliest identified 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 forged glass slabs and employed blowing strategies to spin discs and made cylinder glass. The glass was irregular and never very clear.  One of many oldest identified 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 type a protracted, cylindrical form. Because it cools, it’s reheated in order that the manipulation can proceed. Through 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 rapidly warmth and flatten it, after which positioned in an annealer to chill at a managed charge, making the fabric extra steady. “Hand-blown” cylinder (additionally referred to as muff glass) and crown glass have been the kinds utilized in historical 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 power causes the molten bubble to open up and flatten. It may possibly then be lower 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 system may be finished by hand or by machine. Glass may be “double rolled”, which implies it’s handed via two cylinders directly (just like the garments wringers on older washing machines) to yield glass of a specified thickness (sometimes 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 typically referred to 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 should be not less than 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) thick to outlive the push and pull of typical wind hundreds. Nevertheless, within the creation of crimson glass, the colouring elements should be of a sure focus, or the color is not going to develop. This leads to a color so intense that on the thickness of 1/8 inch (3 mm), the crimson glass transmits little mild and seems black. The tactic employed is to laminate a skinny layer of crimson glass to a thicker physique of glass that’s clear or frivolously tinted, forming “flashed glass”.

A frivolously colored molten collect is dipped right into a pot of molten crimson glass, which is then blown right into a sheet of laminated glass utilizing both the cylinder (muff) or the crown method described above. As soon as this technique was discovered for making crimson glass, different colors have been made this fashion as nicely. An important 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 better freedom of their designs. Numerous artists have embraced the probabilities flashed glass provides them. As an illustration, Sixteenth-century heraldic home windows relied closely on a wide range 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 method), and within the nineteenth century sandblasting began for use for this goal. 

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 method as an alternative of leaded, the traditional method 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 model, the time period ‘Tiffany lamp’ or ‘Tiffany model lamp’ has been typically used to confer 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 artistic and precious leaded glass lamps produced by Tiffany Studios. 

2. Saint Chapelle Paris

A gem of Gothic model, the Saint Chapelle in Paris was inbuilt seven years, a powerful feat. The Sainte Chapelle was meant to deal with 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. Gorgeous stained glass is a essential 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 among the earliest surviving buildings of the Capetian royal palace on the Île de la Cité. Though broken through the French Revolution and restored within the nineteenth century, it has probably the most in depth Thirteenth-century stained glass collections anyplace on the earth. 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 protected storage throughout World Struggle 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 progressively darkened, making the already fading photographs even more durable to see.  In 2008, a extra complete seven-year programme of restoration started, costing some €10 million to scrub and protect all of the stained glass, clear the facade stonework and preserve and restore a number of the sculptures. Half of the funding was supplied by non-public donors, the opposite half coming from the Villum Basis.  Included within the restoration was an revolutionary thermoformed glass layer utilized exterior 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 delivery of St. Louis.

3. Nazir Ol-Molk Mosque 

This unbelievable 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 beneath 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 generally in style in church buildings these days, the earliest found was in Syria from the seventh century. We do have proof of strategies 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) revealed within the eighth century CE. Orsi home windows are home windows fabricated 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 photographs quite than a supply of sunshine. Gentle is a significant function in lots of mosques contemplating it being a significant image of God in Islam. The impact on this mosque is vibrant multicoloured mild that pours into the within, in stunning patterns, however with no representational depictions. It pairs fantastically 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 among the metropolis’s hottest sights and is taken into account probably the most complete arts showcases in the US. Annually, the Chicago Cultural Middle options greater than 1,000 applications and exhibitions protecting 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 almost $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 usually neoclassical model 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 putting form and beautiful 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 development tasks in Brasília at the moment, every little thing floor to a halt. The Cathedral of Brasília is undeniably a powerful sight. Its exterior is dominated by 16 curved concrete columns (Niemeyer liked curves), every weighing 90 tons. These curve inwards, assembly briefly earlier than branching again outwards and upwards to provide 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 sequence 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 situated in a spectacular constructing on the Media Park in Hilversum. The constructing itself, with its distinctive glass facade, spectacular canyon and putting atrium is already price 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’. In an effort to fulfill this mission, it was essential to maneuver from 9 areas in six municipalities to at least one central location. Graphic designer Jaap Drupsteen, along with glass firm Saint Gobain and TNO, realized the protecting of the 4 glass facades. On the skin of the sq. constructing you may see what’s inside it. Drupsteen chosen 768 photographs 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 type a form 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 method, the workers have sufficient daylight of their places of work.

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 may clearly perceive the grasp’s intention of surpassing this model. And he really did so, eliminating exterior parts, corresponding to buttresses and flying buttresses, which he believed have been like crutches. He additionally pushes the boundaries of the shape with the stained-glass home windows created for the Basilica, that are so vital in making a transcendent environment and place for reflection and introspection. Briefly, 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’s extra unobstructed daylight exterior. Within the decrease sections, nevertheless, the place there could also be shadows of bushes or different buildings, the color filter is much less intense. This distribution typically goals to offset one impact with the opposite, in search of a type of steadiness, so that there’s much less filter the place there’s much less mild and vice versa. On the Sagrada Família, nevertheless, it’s simply the other: Gaudí sought out most distinction. Probably 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. Nevertheless, the illustrations and texts are within the decrease home windows, the place guests can see and skim them higher. The choice he selected for the Sagrada Família, nevertheless, was leaded glass, backed by greater than six-hundred years of expertise. The lead strains that divide the window into small items permit them to maneuver, increase and contract, in addition to making it doable to decide on simply the best color for each bit. These lead strains, laid down between the small items of glass, grow to be H formed when stress is utilized in order that they maintain the glass on both facet tightly. Ultimately, each the method and illustration within the Sagrada Familia stained glass home windows is exclusive and fully revolutionary 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 in style subscription. The constructing is situated in Sant Pere district, probably the most stunning areas of Barcelona. The Palau de la Música Catalana is an architectural jewel of Catalan Artwork Nouveau, the one live performance venue on this model to be listed as a World Heritage Web site by UNESCO (4th December 1997), which in the present day represents a necessary landmark within the cultural and social lifetime of Catalonia. Furthermore it represents a symbolic emotional heritage for an entire individuals who establish with its historical past. The modernist constructing is designed round a central metallic construction coated in glass, which exploits pure mild 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 strategies that symbolized the Catalan character. In response, he commissioned and gave nice artistic freedom to a wide range of native artisans and craftsmen to provide the fabulous ornamentation, sculpture, and ornamental structural parts for which the palace is known. The uncovered crimson brick and iron, the mosaics, the stained glass, and the glazed tiles have been chosen and located to provide 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, significantly 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 unique glass stays on this window; it was recreated within the nineteenth century.  The 2 transept home windows are bigger and comprise a better 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. Further scenes within the corners across the rose window embrace 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 critically broken within the French Revolution of 1830. Rioters burned the residence of the archbishop, subsequent to the cathedral, and lots of the panes have been destroyed. The window was totally rebuilt by Viollet-le-Duc in 1861. He rotated the window by fifteen levels to provide it a transparent vertical and horizontal axis, and changed the destroyed items of glass with new glass in the identical model. 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 Struggle II, when the city was almost fully destroyed. Architect Auguste Perret was instrumental within the plan to rebuild the town and designed the church, which includes 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.” Made from concrete, St Joseph’s is a product of recent architectural innovation in Publish-Struggle France. The tower is 107 meters tall and acts as a beacon seen from out at sea, particularly at evening 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 via her introduction of abstraction into spiritual stained glass. She developed a method sans photographs or phrases, utilizing colour to convey her desired theme—a lot in the way in which music conveys feeling through 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 strains 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 fabricated from wooden and elongated stained glass. Revived within the nineteenth century, Huré used the “vintage” glass making method that includes mouth-blowing the coloured glass to realize 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 quite 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 instances, stained glass as an artwork type and architectural function is uncommon, however it’s nonetheless seen fairly often due to its predominance in antiquity.