Saturday 7 March 2015

Stained Glass at the Cluny

 Among the many treasures at the Cluny Museum in Paris are several rooms where stained glass is displayed. The walls are black and the glass backlit. Much of it is at eye level, a quite different experience to seeing stained glass in a cathedral, where it can be many metres above you.

I chose the detail below because it shows that the glass is three dimensional, with luminous colour behind and painted detail in front. The red and green glass is a sort of laminate known as flashed glass, where a glass coloured with a metal oxide is fused with a clear glass. The technique is used because if the whole thickness of glass is coloured it is very dark and reads almost like black rather than the jewel like colours we see here. The yellows are produced by painting the back of the glass with silver nitrate and refiring. That's why the yellows are more blotchy than colours such as blue and purple, where the various metal based pigments are integrated throughout the sheet of glass. Paler or darker colours are manipulated by adding more or less pigment to the molten glass.*

I also love this piece because it is so cartoony. On the inside surface of the glass details such as faces, folds and fleeces have been painted in using powdered metals mixed with urine or vinegar. It is very clear from the individual expressions on the shepherds' faces that stained glass is one of the precursors to modern cartoons, and tells a story in exactly the same way.

Annunciation to the shepherds, a detail from a window from the church in Varennes Jarcy (window possibly originally from the Abbey de Gercy), second quarter of the 13th century.

This little window below is part of the stained glass removed from the Sainte Chapelle in the early 19th century and sold when the building was repurposed as an archival depository.

Worshipping an idol, from Sainte Chapelle, c1244.

Job is looking suitably bewildered below at the Devil brazenly rustling his flock. The painted detail is more sophisticated in much of this medallion. Comparing the Devil's face to Job's makes me suspect that Job might be the 13th century bit. I especially like the dapples on the horse in this one.

Job loses his flock, mostly 15th century, with some 13th century bits.

If the label had said these charming birds were 19th century I would have believed it. Just goes to show how far the pre-Raph admiration of the medieval went.

Partridges, probably French, c1500.
*The production of coloured and stained glass is highly complex and the outline above is very basic. Colours can be produced using different methods and different pigments, some of which are not well understood even today.
A la cuisine hier: A few days ago I put a big piece of boned rolled pork loin in brine. Simon made a marinade for it and roasted it yesterday. It was deeelicious, tender and not too salty! I served homemade orange sorbet for dessert.
Au jardin hier: A month or so ago I had to move all the pots in the front courtyard so the masons could work on the chimney of the house next door. Now, with the arrival of some nice weather we are working on cleaning up the cobbles before rearranging the pots. It's back breaking.


Ken Broadhurst said...

Beautiful. I haven't been to the Cluny museum since the mid-90s. Time for another visit.

Susan said...

Definitely time to go again then.

Post a Comment