Cartoons

A cartoon is a full size, 1:1 scale drawing of a design for a stained glass window. The cartoon shows information needed by the craftsmen to create the panel. This includes where the lead lines will be, so the glass cutter knows where to cut each piece of glass, which colour each piece of glass should be, and important painted details.

The Burrell Collection has some examples of cartoons such as the one in ink on paper, below. It was made in 1592 for a Swiss heraldic panel. The outline of each piece of glass, to show where it should be cut, was marked in red ochre, and letters were used to indicate which colour of glass should be used for each piece.

Cartoon made in 1592 for a Swiss heraldic panel
Cartoon made in 1592 for a Swiss heraldic panel

A small scale design, known as a ‘vidimus’ would have been made first, to show the client for their approval before it was scaled up to full size for the cartoon. In the early medieval period, before paper became widely available, the cartoon was drawn using lead or tin on a table prepared with whitewash or chalk.  The glass would be cut to size, painted and assembled on top of the cartoon table. When the panel was finished, the table would be whitewashed over ready for the next panel, so the cartoon could not be preserved. Very few examples of these boards survive, but documentary evidence suggests they were in use up until the 14th century. As paper became more easily available it started to replace the use of tables for cartoons as the cartoon could be stored for future reference and adaption[1].

Because of the time and skill necessary to produce a cartoon they were often re-used. When made on a table the design was often reused for other panels within the same window and simply reversed, or made to look different by using different coloured glass. As paper cartoons became more widely used they were often saved for re-use, either within a studio, passed on from glazier to glazier, or sold to another workshop. Because of this, very similar, almost identical panels can be found in different windows. The design or elements within the design were often altered slightly by reversing the image, or sections of the image, and by making small adjustments to the painted details whilst keeping most of the lead lines the same[2].

There are occasionally examples of stained glass panels in different locations which were clearly produced from the same cartoon, changing only the colour of the glass used. A good example of this is the Solomon and Sheba panel on display in the South Gallery of the Burrell Collection. The original cartoon is long since lost, but its use can be seen in another very similar panel in The Cloisters Museum, New York.

Burrell Collection Solomon and Sheba panel
Burrell Collection Solomon and Sheba panel
Cloisers Museum, NY Solomon and Sheba panel
Cloisers Museum, NY Solomon and Sheba panel

Solomon and Sheba, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of George D. Pratt, 1935 (41.170.103). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The upper image here is of the Burrell Collection panel and the lower is from the MetropolitanCloistersMuseum in New York. You can immediately see that they are both from the same cartoon, as the basic design is the same, but there are small differences such as the colouring of the panel, the Cloisters panel has no writing on the scroll, and the style of glass painting is slightly different.

Another example is the “Christ Carrying the Cross” panel, also on display in the South Gallery of the Burrell Collection. The layout of the design is almost identical to that of a panel depicting the same scene in Cologne Cathedral. Another two stained glass panels exist, which were also made from this cartoon, with only minor differences in colour of glass used and the paint style. One is in GreatBookhamChurch, Surrey, the other is in Cleveland Cathedral, USA.

They were all clearly made from the same cartoon, adapting the lead lines slightly and changing the colours of glass used. For example in the Burrell Collection clear glass was used for Christ’s robe, whereas blue glass was used in the Cologne Cathedral panel.

Christ Carrying the Cross - Burrell Collection
Christ Carrying the Cross – Burrell Collection
Christ Carrying the Cross - Cologne Cathedral
Christ Carrying the Cross – Cologne Cathedral

 © Raguin/MMK – http://college.holycross.edu/projects/kempe/devotion/christs_passion/passion.html

The two panels were painted in very different styles with only small changes to the lead lines. This is very clear in these details of Christ’s face:

Christ Carrying the Cross - details of the face of Christ from the two panels
Christ Carrying the Cross – details of the face of Christ from the two panels

The difference in paint styles between each panel shows that cartoons were kept and re-used by different people, either within the workshop, shared with other workshops, or passed on from one glazier to the next.[1]


S.Brown, (1992) Stained Glass An Illustrated History and R. Marks, (1993) Stained Glass in England During the Middle Ages

[1] L. Cannon, (1991) Stained Glass in the Burrell Collection

 

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The Two Saints panels from Boppard in the Burrell Collection

The two panels in the Burrell Collection from the Boppard Window with Standing Figures
The two panels in the Burrell Collection from the Boppard Window with Standing Figures

The two panels in the Burrell Collection from the Boppard Window with Standing Figures, depict St.Cunibert, on the left, and a Bishop Saint, on the right. While not all scholars agree, it is possible that the unidentified bishop is St. Severinus, Archbishop of Cologne and patron saint of Boppard. Both saints are shown with their crosiers (the stylized staff of office – the pastoral staff) and holding a book. St. Severinus is also sometimes shown with a model of the church he founded at Cologne, and that is missing from the Boppard panel.

Saint Severinus was the third Bishop of Cologne, living in the later 4th century. He was originally from Bordeaux, France and in 376 is said to have founded a monastery in the then Colonia Agrippina in honour of the Martyr Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, from which developed the later Basilica of St. Severin. He was a prominent opponent of Arianism, which asserted that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to God the Father. The bones of Saint Severinus are now in a gold shrine in St Severin’s Church in Cologne.

Cunibert was made Archdeacon of Trier and then elevated to the Diocese of Cologne, where he was made Bishop of Cologne in 623, then Archbishop in 627. He is depicted complete with his attribute, a dove. According to legend, while Archbishop Cunibert was saying mass, a dove descended and alighted first upon his shoulder and then upon a tomb. The tomb proved to be that of Saint Ursula, the 4th or 5th century princess who sailed from Britain to join her future husband, a pagan governor, along with 11,000 virginal handmaidens. On a pre-marriage pan-European pilgrimage, and joined by the Pope and the bishop of Ravenna, she and all her 11,000 handmaidens were slaughtered by Huns as they travelled to Cologne. There are several versions of the story – dramatically different! She almost certainly didn’t actually exist as a historical figure, but was still venerated enough for a church to be built in her honour and for her legend to grow and inspire some beautiful art, including the Burrell Collection tapestries below.

 

Left tapestry from Scenes from the Legend of St. Ursula - Middle Rhineland, Germany, late 15th century
Left tapestry from Scenes from the Legend of St. Ursula – Middle Rhineland, Germany, late 15th century

 

Right tapestry from Scenes from the Legend of St. Ursula - Middle Rhineland, Germany, late 15th century
Right tapestry from Scenes from the Legend of St. Ursula – Middle Rhineland, Germany, late 15th century

These tapestries, not currently on display, show “Scenes from the Legend of St. Ursula”. They were made in the Middle Rhineland in Germany at the late 15th century. The top tapestry shows St. Ursula and her betrothed, embarking the ships at the start of their pilgrimage, and the slaughter by the Huns below. They are made of wool and linen, and contain metal threads.

 

Standing Figures from the West Window of the Nave of the Carmelite Church at Boppard-am-Rhein

Experts generally agree that the two Burrell Collection panels depicting St. Cunibert and a Bishop Saint were originally installed in the West window of the Nave of the Carmelite Church at Boppard, now often referred to as the Standing Figures Window. They formed part of a two tier, three light window, the rest of which is believed to have contained large images of Saints or Bishops.

Boppard Saint Cunibert and a Bishop Saint, now in the Burrell Collection
Boppard Saint Cunibert and a Bishop Saint, now in the Burrell Collection

The two panels in the Burrell Collection are important as they contain an inscription which states that the windows were begun in the year 1440 and completed in 1446. This suggests that this window was the last in the series in the Nave to be completed and installed.

Inscription from the two Saints panels in the Burrell Collection - Left side
Inscription from the two Saints panels in the Burrell Collection – Left side
Inscription from the two Saints panels in the Burrell Collection - Right side
Inscription from the two Saints panels in the Burrell Collection – Right side

Over the years there has been considerable debate over the original content of the window and positioning of panels. Researchers now agree that the two Burrell Collection Saints would have originally occupied the lower right-hand corner of the window, flanked by another saint on the left, now lost (see image below).  Prof. Ruediger Becksmann (President of the Corpus  Vitrearum Germany) proposed that the window may have once contained a depiction of the Assumption of the Virgin in the top centre with a figure of Saint Michael to the left and the Archangel Gabriel to the right. The Assumption of the Virgin and Archangel Gabriel are now lost, but the stained glass panels depicting St. Michael survive in the Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco.

Boppard Pyrmont Window - Location of panels within the Standing Figures Window as proposed by Ruediger Becksmann (blank areas represent panels which have since been lost).
Standing Figures Window – Location of panels within the window as proposed by Ruediger Becksmann (blank areas represent panels which have since been lost).

The Assumption of the Virgin was the bodily taking up of the Virgin Mary into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. In the Marian theology of the Carmelite church this would be a very important celebration. An example of the Assumption of the Virgin depicted in stained glass can be seen in the Burrell Collection’s English panel below, from Hampton Court, made by John Thornton between 1400 and 1430 – very close to the date of the Boppard windows.

Burrell Collection - Assumption of the Virgin from Hampton Court 1400-1430
Burrell Collection – Assumption of the Virgin from Hampton Court 1400-1430

It is interesting to compare the way the face of the Virgin is painted on the Hampton Court panel compared to the Boppard panels. The first image shows a detail of the English glass, the next a detail from the Boppard Virgin and Child panel and the last from the Boppard Adoration of the Magi.

Burrell Collection - Assumption of the Virgin from Hampton Court 1400-1430

Burrell Collection – Assumption of the Virgin from Hampton Court 1400-1430
Boppard Virgin and Child - detail of the Virgin's face
Boppard Virgin and Child – detail of the Virgin’s face
Boppard Adoration of the Magi - detail of the Virgin's face
Boppard Adoration of the Magi – detail of the Virgin’s face

In the last detail, Mary wears a wimple, which was commonly worn in medieval times (12th to 14th centuries) to cover the hair, neck and often part of the bosom and frame the face. It became part of the habit of certain orders of nuns.

For more on the Boppard Standing Figures window, read:

Ruediger Becksmann “The Throne of Solomon Window from the Carmelite Church at Boppard and its Donation by Jakob von Sierck, Archbishop of Trier (1439-56) in ‘The Four Modes of Seeing’ (2009).