Boppard Panel – Siegfried von Gelnhausen and his Wife

Boppard Panel - Siegfried von Gelnhausen and his Wife
Boppard Panel – Siegfried von Gelnhausen and his Wife

 

Tree of Jesse window including blanks--bottom window
Tree of Jesse window including blanks–bottom window

This panel was thought to have been located at the foot of the Tree of Jesse window from Boppard, as shown on the left. The dexter shield (which is on the shield bearer’s right and our left) is described as “per pale argent and gules, an eagle displayed sable and lily argent dimidiated”. This means the shield is divided in two vertically, with silver and red backgrounds and half an eagle combined with half a lily. This shield was identified by Professor Hans Wentzel of Stuttgart as that of Siegfried von Gelnhausen, a rich merchant living in the area. The sinister shield (an heraldic term meaning that the shield is on the bearers left and our right) is described as “sable a swan naiant argent”, which means a black background with a white swan swimming to the viewer’s left, and could be that of his wife. More recent researchers have left the couple unidentified. What is certain is that this is a donor panel depicting a man and woman who funded part or all of the construction of the window.

The practice of portraying donors started in the mid 12th century when funding was donated to a church or cathedral during major projects. It gradually became increasingly popular until the 15th and 16th centuries when it became a widespread display of faith and good conscience. Donating a major window like this would have been a way of saving your soul and ensuring your immortality, as well as showing off your wealth and importance. It could also be a good political move – this panel would have shown the allegiance of the merchant to the Carmelite order in a region dominated by their influence. Donor panels are commonly found at the base of a stained glass window, sometimes with an inscription such as the Siegfried von Gelnhausen panel. From the 16th century onwards donor panels become less common as secular glass began to gain preference over religious glass.

Other examples of donor panels in the Burrell Collection include a 14th century kneeling donor figure which may have come from Gresford (45.9), an early 16th century German panel depicting a kneeling mother and her two daughters (45.436), and the more well known Princess Cecily, who would originally have been positioned alongside the donor portraits of her parents and siblings at the foot of the Royal Window at Canterbury Cathedral.

Facts about Glass: Jewels

Like insertions in a previous blog, the idea of jewels in stained glass is simple whilst a very high level of skill is required! ‘Jewels’ were often used to decorate the hems of clothing to emphasise the important status of the wearer. This involved bonding or inserting coloured pieces of glass into clear glass, which created a jewel-like effect, inspiring the name ‘jewels’ or ‘gems’. The Boppard panels don’t have any examples of the jewel technique, but there are some splendid examples in the Burrell Collection.

There are two different types of techniques used to create ‘jewels’ in stained glass. The first involved an early form of fusing, where a coloured piece of glass was cut to the desired shape and placed on top of a piece of clear glass. Paint was then applied around the edge of the coloured glass and it was fired in a kiln to soften the paint so that it would hold the two pieces of glass together. A twelfth century monk, Theophilus, wrote about this technique in his treatise “On Diverse Arts”. He says:

“If in these windows you want to set on the painted glass precious stones of another colour-hyacinths or emeralds*… you can do it in this way without using lead…take pieces of blue glass and shape from them as many hyacinths as there are places to fill. Shape emeralds out of green glass…When they have been carefully fitted and set in position, paint an opaque pigment around them with a brush, in such a way that none of the pigment flows between the two pieces of glass. Fire them in the kiln with the other pieces [of glass] and they will stick on so well that they will never fall off.”

*Words Theophilus used to describe the colours of the glass jewels

Unfortunately however, over time many of them did fall off. This could be due to any number of reasons; the two pieces of glass were not fired at a high enough temperature for the two pieces to fuse together, if there was any fusion occurring between the two pieces of glass different rates of expansion when heated and cooled could create stresses and lead to them breaking apart, the paint layer was often very thin, and over time weathering can cause the paint to deteriorate.

Detail of glass gems fired on top of the clear glass
Detail of glass gems fired on top of the clear glass
St Barbara - Detail of Jewels
St Barbara – Detail of Jewels

This photo shows one red and one green jewel remaining, with clear glass painted with shapes where other jewels were originally attached.

The panel of St. Barbara (on display in the South Gallery) contains an excellent example of this technique, with a series of these glass jewels fused along the border of her dress:

Burrell Collection - St Barbara
Burrell Collection – St Barbara

The second technique involves cutting a hole and filling it with another piece of glass, usually of a different colour. This is very similar to the technique used for insertions. These jewels differ from insertions in that rather than using lead to hold the new piece of glass in place, it is bonded to the surrounding glass using glass paint. The new piece of glass is made to fit the hole as tightly as possible then the remaining gap is filled with paint and the whole is then heated in a kiln until the paint melts (melting before the rest of the glass) fusing the whole assembly together.

This technique could be used on quite small pieces that would be spoilt by using lead to hold the insert in place. Unfortunately, with heat expansion and the rigours of weather, the paint holding the jewels in place can deteriorate and the jewels have often fallen out. The resulting hole was then often filled with lead to keep the rain and wind at bay.

The Shield of Thomas Harowdon, referred to in several previous blogs, has an excellent example of jewels, including ones that have fallen out and subsequently been filled in with lead, such as the one on the left in this detail:

Shield Of Thomas Harowdon in the Burrell Collection
Shield Of Thomas Harowdon in the Burrell Collection
Shield Of Thomas Harowdon - detail of jewels
Shield Of Thomas Harowdon – detail of jewels

J. G. Hawthorne and C. S. Smith “Theophilus On Divers Arts” 1963.

The Life of Christ and The Virgin panels – Christ Appearing to Peter

Burrell Collection - Boppard Panel - Christ Appearing To Peter
Burrell Collection – Boppard Panel – Christ Appearing To Peter

As in the Resurrection panel, Jesus is in red and white holding a banner with red cross on a white background. He gives his blessing to St Peter who is seated in a rock and raises both hands in surprise, and has a big smile on his face. St Peter is one of, if not the most important apostle. From very early Christian art, St Peter has been depicted with a short beard and usually bald on top, perhaps associated with the haircut of a monk.
Peter also has an oversized key resting in the crook of his elbow, a symbol used to identify him. The attribute of one or two keys reflects the story in the bible where Christ gives him the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
While journeying along with His Apostles, Jesus asks them: “Whom do men say that the Son of man is?” The Apostles answered: “Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets”. Jesus said to them: “But whom do you say that I am?” Simon said: “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God”. And Jesus answering said to him: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter [Kipha, a rock], and upon this rock [Kipha] I will build my church [ekklesian], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven”. Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21).
The expressions on the faces of the people depicted in the Boppard panels are very special. The painting shows real people with real expressions which bring the scenes to life.

Burrell Collection - St Peter window
Burrell Collection – St Peter window
Burrell Collection - Detail form the St Peter window
Burrell Collection – Detail form the St Peter window

There are several other representations of St Peter on display in the Burrell Collection. An English 15th century window in the Hutton Drawing Room shows St Peter with two keys., but less usually, a good crop of hair on top. A crown in a thornbush and the initials H and E for Henry VIII and Elizabeth of York is one of the badges at the bottom (the left-hand diamond shaped pane).

Burrell Collection - Boppard Panel - Christ Appearing To Peter
Burrell Collection – St John the Evangelist and a kneeling soldier

Another panel, in the South-Corridor, shows the “St John the Evangelist and a Kneeling Soldier”. The panel depicts a soldier converting to Christianity during the Virgin Mary’s funeral procession. The soldier is in full armour holding a palm branch given to him by St John, who stands on the left dressed in a white mantle over a red tunic. St Peter stands with his key behind the coffin of the Virgin Mary, covered with a red drape and bearing the initial ‘M’. The initials IHS (Jesus) radiates in a roundel on the upper right. The panel is English from the Norwich School and dates to the 15th century. The panel probably comes from the Church of St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, built between 1430 and 1455.

Burrell Collection - Nottingham Alabaster - The Ascension of Jesus
Burrell Collection – Nottingham Alabaster – The Ascension of Jesus
Burrell Collection - Nottingham Alabaster - The Ascension of Jesus, detail of St.Peter
Burrell Collection – Nottingham Alabaster – The Ascension of Jesus, detail of St.Peter

Another depiction of St Peter is in the Nottingham alabaster “The Ascension”, where Peter is centre right of the group watching Jesus rocketing up to heaven.

Burrell Collection - Chasuble (front view)
Burrell Collection – Chasuble (front view)
Burrell Collection - Chasuble (back view)
Burrell Collection – Chasuble (back view)

On a different object altogether, St Peter is shown in one of the orphreys (a form of highly detailed embroidery) on a chasuble made in England in the late 15th century and altered in the 18th century. It is in red silk velvet embroidered with large stylised sprays of lilies and other flower in silk floss and metal threads with metal spangles. The front is made from three sections of velvet and the back cut from one.

Burrell Collection - Chasuble (Detail of St.Peter)
Burrell Collection – Chasuble (Detail of St.Peter)

The flowers are worked separately with laid silk threads, metal threads couched in silk and split stitch details and appliquéd to the ground. The stamens and stems are worked in couched twisted threads and split stitch. St Peter is on the back in an applied band embroidered with at centre front and back in blue silk velvet worked in silk floss and metal threads using long and short stitches, padded satin stitch, straight stitch, raised-work and couched silk and metal threads. Peter is shown carrying both a key and a book.

The Life of Christ and The Virgin panels – The Resurrection

Top of the Boppard Resurrection panel

Boppard Life of Christ and The Virgin window - detail of the Resurrection panel
Boppard Life of Christ and The Virgin window – detail of the Resurrection panel

The moment depicted is when Jesus steps out of the tomb. Notice that in the Boppard panel, Jesus steps out from a grave that everyone would have recognised at the time, not a sepulcher (a small room or monument, cut in rock or built of stone, in which a dead person is laid or buried) as described in the bible. This makes the scene far more accessible to all. The visit by the two Marys, when an angel rolls back the stone from the tomb entrance comes later in the story. Jesus does not need help to leave the tomb.

Jesus gives us the standard Christian blessing with his right hand while holding a red and white banner in his left. There appears to be a whole host of reasons for these colours including red for the blood of Christ and white for purity. I can’t find any definitive statement on the manner. Please add a comment below if you know more detail on this! Notice the clear sign of the nail on Jesus’ foot to remind viewers that this is after the crusifixion.

The angels have fabulous wings that they seem to flap in pleasure whilst the two soldiers, one still asleep and the other in surprise and awe as shown in the latest armour of the time as we have seen on other panels.

The whole depiction would have been very ‘modern’ when it was first created.

Burrell Collection: Life Of Christ Window - Christ Before Pilate
Burrell Collection: Life Of Christ Window – Christ Before Pilate
Life Of Christ - Detail of the Resurrection, French, dated to around 1450
Life Of Christ – Detail of the Resurrection, French, dated to around 1450

A very similar depiction of the resurrection is from the French early 15th century window, “Scenes from the Life of Christ”, shown in the “Christ before Pilate” blog. As Jesus steps out from the tomb and gives us a blessing, you can just see the soldiers and others cowering behind.