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FW: TMR 99.01.07, Caviness, Stained Glass Windows (Sonne)

Poster: "Garrett, William" <WGarrett@sierrahealth.com>

> Madeline H. Caviness.  <i>Stained Glass Windows</i>.  Typologie 
> des Sources du Moyen Age Occidental. Fasc. 76. Turnhout 
> Belgium:  Brepols, 1996.  Pp. 86. illus. 8.  925 BEF.  ISBN 2-
> 503-36076-9 (pb). 
>    Reviewed by Harriet M. Sonne 
>         University of Toronto & University of Copenhagen.
>         hsonne@chass.utoronto.ca
> In this slim volume of  86 pages, entitled simply <i>Stained 
> Glass Windows</i>, Madeline H. Caviness makes a valuable 
> contribution to the well-known series, <i>Typologie des Sources 
> du Moyen Age Occidental</i>.  The present volume is an 
> introduction to the scholarship and development of stained 
> glass from ca. 500 to 1480. Except for the section listing the 
> <i>Corpus Vitrearum</i> publications in different countries, 
> the monograph is restricted primarily to English and French 
> works from the 12th to the 15th centuries. The general format 
> and approach adopted by the author is in keeping with previous 
> monographs from this series.  In the past twenty years, we have 
> all benefited from the late Léopold Genicot's efforts to 
> produce a series of readable and informative monographs on 
> specialized subjects for scholars working in the field of 
> medieval studies.  The aim has been to provide an overview of 
> the state of scholarship on selected topics which, in the past, 
> have dealt mainly with textual sources in the fields of  
> liturgy, theology and literature.  Topics selected from the 
> field of art history have been rare.  Caviness's text on 
> stained glass painting, a field of study that she so aptly 
> describes as "the least well-understood body of art historical 
> material available for analysis" (8), makes a welcome addition 
> for all, especially, art historians and architectural 
> historians. 
> There is no one more qualified to present an overview of 
> current scholarship in the field of stained glass studies than 
> Madeline H. Caviness.  Her work as a scholar on the subject and 
> as former president of the <i>Corpus Vitrearum</i>, is well-
> known.[1]  From her early work on the stained glass of 
> Canterbury Cathedral in England to her more recent work on 
> royal abbeys in Reims and Braine in France, she has constantly 
> tried to broaden our understanding of stained and painted glass 
> as the "major medium of monumental painting in European lands 
> north of the Alps and Pyranees [sic] in the high middle ages." 
> (8)  The present volume is no exception to her past efforts. 
> The volume contains an acknowledgement, a foreward, five 
> chapters divided into further sub-sections, a selective index 
> and eight black and white illustrations.  One of the first 
> points the author makes in the acknowledgements is the generous 
> assistance of several individuals, like Yvette Vanden Bemden, 
> Secretary of the International Board of the <i>Corpus 
> Vitrearum</i>, and Laura Good, former assistant to the American 
> <i>Corpus Vitrearum</i> (New England office), who helped to 
> compile the up-to-date lists of publications and work-in-
> progress for the <i>Corpus Vitrearum</i> project in Chapter I.  
> Indeed, this section is one of the more valuable assets of the 
> present volume.  
> In the foreword, the author makes both her intentions and 
> limitations clear.  It is her hope that this volume will 
> "ensure that glass is better understood, and the wealth of 
> information encoded in it made more accessible to a whole range 
> of scholars of the middle ages." (9)  The author admits up 
> front that for, the sake of brevity and her familiarity with 
> the subject, discussions are limited primarily to English and 
> French examples, but adds that further examples from other 
> regions are listed in the bibliographies.  The first chapter, 
> "Publications", is divided into four sections: (A) 
> Bibliographies, (B) Manuscript Sources (watercolors and notes), 
> (C) General Bibliography, (D) <i>Corpus Vitrearum</i> 
> Publications. This 29-page section is by-far the most 
> substantial part of the publication.  The introduction to 
> Chapter I emphasizes the strengths and limitations of various 
> bibliographies and indexes listed in section (A).  It notes the 
> standard journal indexes used for art history and the 
> specialized sources for stained glass, providing an excellent 
> overview of important resources for neophytes.  Section (B), 
> Manuscript Sources (watercolors and notes), as the author 
> notes, offers a cursory introduction to a few historical 
> sources in England and France.  It is a valuable section, not 
> so much for its comprehensiveness, but for the way in which the 
> author exposes the types of manuscript sources that could offer 
> additional information for scholars.  Section (C), the General 
> Bibliography is limited "to studies on stained glass that dates 
> [sic] before about 1480" (11) and is focused primarily on 
> English, French and German scholarship. There are a few 
> isolated references to work being done in the Netherlands, 
> Spain and Italy, but no acknowledgement of scholarship in 
> Eastern Europe or in Scandinavia.  However, the General 
> Bibliography gives a good update on material published in the 
> author's field of specialty since her first bibliography 
> published in 1982.[2]
> The most valuable part of Chapter I, especially for scholars 
> already working in the field of stained glass, is section (D), 
> entitled <i>Corpus Vitrearum</i> Publications.  The author 
> notes "for the sake of completeness all <i>Corpus Vitrearum</i> 
> publications are included here." (12)  This includes 
> publications dealing with 16th and 17th century stained glass.  
> The section begins by listing the general publications by the 
> international organization, the <i>Corpus Vitrearum Medii 
> Aevi</i>.  This is followed a list of the catalogues published 
> in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, 
> Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, 
> Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.  This 
> section is well organized, informative, distinguishing between 
> volumes planned, in preparation and those that have alredy been 
> published.  Readers should be aware, however, that some of the 
> volumes listed as being in preparation have now been published, 
> but with slightly different titles and series numbers.  A 
> future update on the status of these publications would be 
> helpful.
> Chapter II, entitled "Nature and Development of the Medium", 
> concentrates on the use of stained glass in ecclesiastic 
> buildings and how its use developed up to the 14th century in 
> various regions of the Continent (39-44).  The author describes 
> its early origins and sporadic use in southern Europe prior to 
> the 11th century, but notes that in northern Europe the 
> opposite was true and explains that an important tradition of 
> glass painting existed in the German Empire from the 9th to the 
> 11th centuries.  The chapter concludes with several brief, 
> nondescript summaries on its development in the 12th, 13th and 
> 14th centuries.
> Chapter III, "Techniques of Making a Window in the Period 500-
> 1480",  is subdivided into eleven sections (45-57): (1) The 
> Peculiar Qualities of Stained Glass, (2) The Medieval Manuals, 
> (3) Pot Metal and Flashed Glasses, (4) Design, (5) Glass 
> Cutting, (6) Painting, (7) Firing the Paint, (8) Colors 
> Produced with the Help of the Kiln, (9) Sorting, (10) Leading, 
> and (11) Structural Supports and Glazing.  Using simple 
> language and a straight-forward approach, Caviness demystifies 
> the process of making stained glass.  The author  
> systematically discusses each step of the process in a clearly 
> written manner.  In Chapter III, Caviness stresses the 
> importance of understanding the methods of manufacturing 
> stained glass "in the middle ages in order to assess its 
> authenticity." (45)  But it soon becomes evident that her 
> analysis of the various stages of stained glass making reveals 
> other equally important reasons why the techniques of making 
> stained glass should be understood.  In section (2), entitled 
> "The Medieval Manuals", the author introduces the medieval 
> manual <i>De Diversis Artibus</i>, a series of three books 
> written by a German monk known by the pseudonym "Theophilus".  
> The second book is devoted exclusively to the production of 
> stained glass (46).  At each stage references to Theophilus's 
> text provide a background and, at the same time, a point of 
> departure for further insights.  As the author points out, his 
> instructions for building different types of kilns at the 
> different stages, confirms, along with archaeological evidence, 
> the on-site manufacture of stained glass.  Theophilus's 
> explanations for the use of a sized board (<i>tabula 
> lignea</i>) as patterns for designing the layout of the stained 
> glass windows are supported by the survival of a setting table 
> from Gerona and the way in which illuminators used the same 
> methods seen in the 12th century Capuchin's Bible (Paris, 
> Bibliotheque Nationale, Ms. lat. 16743-46) (50).  Clearly, the 
> understanding of how stained glass was produced has broader 
> implications for art historians working in other mediums.
> Chapter IV, entitled "Reception and Documentation", is divided 
> into five sections. In section (1) Medieval Attitudes to 
> Stained Glass, the author touches on the anagogical, 
> allegorical and pedagogical attitudes as expressed by such 
> well-known authors as Abbot Suger when discussing the Saint-
> Denis windows, Durandus of Mende and Ades de Chateauroux (canon 
> of Bourges c. 1230) in a sermon preserved at Assisi (59).  The 
> next two sections, (2) Iconophabia and Iconoclasm, and (3) 
> Post-Reformation Damage to Glass, address the destruction 
> stained glass windows have suffered in England and France from 
> the 12th century through to the Napoleonic raids in the 18th 
> century (62-63).  Section (4) The Gothic Revival and 
> Medievalism (1840-1940), describes the important role Goethe's 
> theories of color around the year 1800 had on changing the 
> aesthetic appreciation for stained glass windows and how the 
> rise of nationalism initiated government assistance in the 
> preservation of national monuments and, with them, stained 
> glass (65-67).  Especially noteworthy was the work that was 
> being done in France by scholars such as Peres Cahier and 
> Martin.  In the last section of this chapter, (5) Post world 
> War II Documentation: The <i>Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi</i>, 
> the author outlines how this international project evolved 
> after the Second War in the year 1953 with the support of the 
> Comité International d'Histoire de l'Art and went on to 
> establish international standards and directives for the 
> preservation and scholarship of stained glass (67-69).  In 
> addition to providing location, dimensions of each panel, 
> information about the inscriptions, heraldry and iconography, 
> the catalogue descriptions also provide readers with 
> information on where the repositories for photographic 
> negatives are and how to order prints.  Whenever the 
> opportunity permits, the author emphasizes the important role 
> the project <i>Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi</i> plays in the 
> study of stained glass windows.
> The last section of the book, Chapter V, "The Historical 
> Significance of Windows" has six sections: (1) Patrons and 
> Donors of Windows, (2) The Economics of Glass-Painting vs. 
> Social Exchange, (3) Workshops, (4) Technology and Trade, (5) 
> Texts and Images, and  (6) Decoding Meanings: Windows as Texts.  
> In keeping with her opening statement that stained glass 
> windows represents one of the least understood bodies of art 
> historical material for analysis, Caviness emphasizes the 
> "historical" value of inscriptions, techniques, donor imagery, 
> costumes and heraldry.  In an effort to extend the traditional 
> methods of art historical analysis, Caviness, instead, suggests 
> that the finished product, the "raw glass can provide 
> information."(70)  The author warns, however, that a degree of 
> caution should be applied when dating a window to the lifetime 
> of a donor. In some cases windows served as memorials and hence 
> provide, instead, a <i>terminus ante quem</i>. Care must also 
> be taken when dating windows by costumes, furnishings, tools 
> and other items for frequently they were generalized and 
> abbreviated in symbolic ways.  The author notes that images of 
> donors raise intriguing questions about the interactive role of 
> patron, artisan, advisor and that of the Church.  The stained 
> glass itself often provides information about the organization 
> of the workshops and the literacy and origins of the artisans. 
> In the section on workshops Caviness cites several authors and 
> summarizes various points of view emerging in this field of 
> study. Further references supplement a relatively brief summary 
> in section (4) on Technology and Trade.  A growing body of 
> research on the chemical composition of stained glass is 
> providing historians with information about medieval trade. In 
> the late sixties, concerns for the rapid deterioration of 
> stained glass due to pollution and exposure to the elements 
> shifted historical studies to the conservation and preservation 
> of stained glass. 
> In the last two sections of Chapter V, (5) Texts and Images, 
> and (6) Decoding Meanings: Windows as Texts, the author briefly 
> touches on the historical importance of inscriptions, the 
> connections between images and texts, the iconographic 
> significance of images without texts, and the significance of 
> the different contexts of stained glass windows (architectonic, 
> pictorial programs and narratives, theological programs).  The 
> literature available on these areas is extensive, so it is 
> disappointing to see so few references to work in these fields.  
> Perhaps the sheer quantity of material imposed restrictions on 
> what the author felt was appropriate for this particular text.  
> In any case, scholars persuing information about these areas 
> would be well advised to consult other texts and bibliographies 
> as well.
> This is a brief summary of a highly selective coverage of the 
> study of stained glass windows.  Keeping in mind the geographic 
> limitations and chronological parameters, the present volume is 
> a welcome addition to anyone's library of reference tools and 
> pedagogical resources.  Furthermore, it should be pointed out 
> that the restricted scope of this study is testimony to the 
> increasing interest in this field of study and the dire need 
> for further work. On the whole, it is a mature and 
> knowledgeable synthesis of material based on the author's own 
> work in the field. 
> [1]  In addition to numerous articles, Madeline H. Caviness is 
> known for the following books:  <i>The early stained glass of 
> Canterbury Cathedral </i> (Princeton, 1977); <i>The windows of 
> Christ Church Cathedral </i> (London, 1981); with Evelyn Ruth 
> Staudinger, <i>Sumptuous arts at the royal abbeys in Reims and 
> Braine</i> (Princeton, 1990). 
> [2]  M.H. Caviness, <i>Stained Glass before 1540, an annotated 
> bibliography</i> (Boston, 1983).
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