Boppard Abroad: Detroit Institute of Art

Detroit is definitively worth a visit. It is a city of two halves, with beautiful art deco sky scrapers, huge boulevards, and an art collection in the Institute of Art (DIA) which is simply breathtaking.

Detroit Skypscrapers.
Detroit Skypscrapers.

On the other hand it is also visibly a city of poverty, ill health and desperation, a city which is in deep financial crisis, so much so, that the city fathers are considering the sale of some of their Museum Collections. Let’s hope that does not happen.

In the two days I was there I spent most of my time in the Institute of Art.

Detroit Institute of Arts
Detroit Institute of Arts.

The Technicians and the Curator of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Yao-Fen You, had kindly removed the stained glass from the display to the store so that I was able to closely view both sides of the panels and compare the details with our windows at the Burrell.

40.52 Anonymous German "The Three Marys," 1444 Pot metal; white glass with silver stain and olive-green enamel 58 x 29 x 3/4 in. ( depth 1 5/8 in. including additional supporting molding attached to the back) / 147.3 x 73.7 cm Founders Society Purchase, Anne E. Shipman Stevens Bequest Fund
40.52, Anonymous, German
“The Three Marys,” 1444
Pot metal; white glass with silver stain and olive-green enamel
58 x 29 x 3/4 in. ( depth 1 5/8 in. including additional supporting molding attached to the back) / 147.3 x 73.7 cm Founders Society Purchase, Anne E. Shipman Stevens Bequest Fund.

The Three Marys panel came into the Detroit Institute of Art via the dealers Anton Huber and Seligmann, Rey & Co whereas the Burrell glass came to Glasgow via the Hearst and Goelet Collections. This makes the Detroit panels extremely useful to compare our glass with. Any interventions that are the same must be from the 1871 treatment (unless of course there was another treatment during the period that the glass was in the Spitzer Collection but this is very unlikely and no evidence of this has ever been produced).

What I found is that the tinned lead in the Detroit panel is exactly the same as the lead used in the Burrell panels which means that this work was carried out in 1871. We had already come to that conclusion, but it is nice to have additional proof.

The Three Marys panel, Detroit. Detail of tinned lead.
The Three Marys panel, Detroit. Detail of tinned lead.
Detail of tinned lead in Boppard panel in the Burrell Collection.
Detail of tinned lead in Boppard panels in the Burrell Collection.

The trace lines on the front of the Detroit glass have been retouched using the same dark grey paint carefully applied to follow the original paint. As in our panels this paint can sometimes be found on the edges of the lead which indicates that it is a cold, unfired paint which was applied when the panel was leaded up. This work was also carried out in the Berlin restoration of 1871. The restorers must have decided that extensive retouching was required because the original paintloss was substantial. However they did not want to put the glass at risk by firing it and therefore they carried out the retouching in unfired cold paint after the panel had been leaded together again.

The  Three Marys panel, detail of paint on lead.
The Three Marys panel, detail of paint on lead.

The third interesting similarity between the glass at Detroit and the glass in our collection is that some of the restoration insertions have been given a matt wash at the back. We were not sure if this had been done in Berlin as it could also have been carried out later while the glass was in the Hearst or the Goelet collections.

The Three Marys panel, matt wash  applied to the back of the panel.
The Three Marys, matt wash applied to the back of the panel.

The Three Mary’s were acquired by the Detroit Institute of Art in 1940. That means that they were probably with dealers from 1893 until 1940 and we know very little about where exactly they were (probably in Switzerland) and whether they were ever displayed. This could be another avenue to explore further.


Bishop Saints in Stained Glass at the Burrell

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

Having looked at the two bishop saints in the Boppard windows, it is interesting to compare them with other, similar stained glass panels in the Burrell. Bishop saints are senior church officials (usually bishops) who have performed or are associated with some remarkable event of Christian religious significance. The process of raising someone’s status to that of a saint in the Catholic Church is called canonization. It has become more structured over the years, so today the basic rules are:

  • The candidate should be dead (more than five years in most cases). A local bishop then undertakes a detailed investigation and gathers evidence relating to the candidate’s life.
  • The information, now sent to the Vatican, is considered by the “Congregation for Cause of Saints”, a panel of senior church officials.
  •  If the panel agrees, the Pope will declare the candidate “venerable”, which means that they are a role model for the Catholic Church.
  •  Next, the candidate must be “beatified”. This means that either they are associated with a miracle, or they were martyred. The miracle does not have to have been performed by the candidate, as it could be for example, someone who has recovered from a terminal illness as a result of praying to their spirit.
  •  To be canonized, there must be proof of a second miracle, at which point the candidate becomes a saint.

Bishop or priest saints are often venerated at a local level having undertaken their religious services nearby. The Boppard saints were St. Cunibert, patron saint of a local important family and Archbishop of Cologne, and St. Severinus, also Archbishop of Cologne and patron saint of Boppard.

Four other bishop (or priest) saints in stained glass at the Burrell are shown below.

Bishop Saint - German c1230-60
Bishop Saint – German c1230-60
Priest Saint - German c1230-60
Priest Saint – German c1230-60

These are a pair of panels from Germany, made around 1230 – 1260. There is a bishop saint was on the left (top image in this blog), with his mitre and crosier, and a priest or deacon saint on the right (immediately above). Bishop saints are often depicted with a mitre and crozier to show their status within the Church, and usually with a symbol to help indicate which saint it is, such as Romanus and the dragon, below. If there is no inscription and the saint is depicted with only a crozier and mitre such as the one above, they can be hard to identify.

Romanus and the dragon from the Burrell Collection
Romanus and the dragon from the Burrell Collection

The bishop saint in the panel above is thought to be St. Romanus (or Romanus of Rouen). He is shown standing under a canopy holding a pastoral staff piercing the open mouth of a red dragon. St. Romanus was the Bishop of Rouen and died around 640, and is associated with several miracles. The miracle involving a dragon has a number of variations. The legend says that Romanus went off to hunt this beast that devoured and destroyed the local people with the only other person prepared to help, a condemned prisoner. When they found the dragon, Romanus subdued it with a crucifix and led it back to the town, where it was burned before the entrance to the cathedral.

This miracle was the origin of the bishop’s privilege, in which the bishop is allowed to pardon one condemned prisoner a year at a procession involving Romanus’ relics.

Partron Bishop Saint and Donors in the Burrell Collection
Partron Bishop Saint and Donors in the Burrell Collection

Another stained glass panel, shown above, and on display in the Burrell was made in the early 16th century in the Rhineland. It shows three lady donors dresses in red robes and kneeling in church. The Mother is depicted at the centre and her married daughter is behind her (on the right). They both hold rosaries and are coifed in white to cover their heads. The unmarried daughter (as her head is not covered) is shown between the two married women and has a small garland, or chaplet, of flowers in her hair. She doesn’t seem to be holding a rosary, but the word chaplet also refers to a Roman Catholic prayer that uses prayer beads.

On the left is their patron saint, a bishop saint with his mitre and crosier. His right hand is raised in benediction and he wears a gold embroidered cope, a blue dalmatic and a white alb. He was probably a favourite saint of the donors or of local importance.


Boppard Abroad

On Sunday I will set off on a tour of different museums and locations in the States and Germany to see other Boppard stained glass windows. I will visit the Detroit Museum of Art, Ochre Court and Seaview Terrace in Newport (Rhode Island), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Schnuetgen Museum in Cologne. All of them have panels from Boppard that come from the same windows as the ones we have at the Burrell.

I am focussing on the Tree of Jesse Window and the 10 Commandments Window.

The Window with Standing figures (St. Cunibert and Bishop Saint) has one associated panel at the Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco and ideally I would have liked to see that as well but as a conservator I should also consider the environment –  I have decided that this additional trip will cost me too many air miles!

The aim is to explore the details about how our windows differ, and in what ways they are the same, as the windows in these other locations and collections. Up to 1893, when they were sold at the Spitzer auction in Paris, they shared the same history and were kept in the same locations. The Burrell glass was then sent to the US along with other panels bought by Hearst and the windows remained together (probably at a warehouse in New York) until 1938/39, when some of the glass was sold to the Metropolitan and other panels were sold to William Burrell.

By comparing these windows, we should be able to work out what happened after 1939 and we will also be able to confirm all of the interventions that were carried out before 1939.

The glass at Detroit, Ochre Court & Seaview Terrace in Newport as well as the panels now in the Schnuetgen Museum in Cologne all have a very different – and varied – history since 1893 and the comparison with them will help identify restorations that predate 1893 and also make more clear what interventions were added after that date.

On my trip abroad I will study and compare original paint, over-painting and retouching, backpainting, lead condition, corrosion, glass repairs, replacements and restorations. I will also look at how the other Boppard panels have been restored and conserved in their more recent history.


Lead and tinning
Lead and tinning
Original paint retouched
Original paint retouched
Green enamel (microscopic image)
Green enamel (microscopic image)

Designs for Stained Glass

Before a stained glass window is made a small, a scaled design is produced to show the client. This initial drawing is known as a “vidimus”.  From this a full size cartoon is produced which contains all the information the glazier would need to make the window. In the Middle Ages stained glass designs were normally specific to the location or the ideals of the donor, to illustrate given topics or events, such as is the case with the Boppard panels. The inspiration for stained glass designs came from a wide range of areas, such as Biblical texts, an illustration in a book or manuscript, a painting or some other work of art. Glass painters probably also kept sketchbooks of figures and motifs useful for stained glass, similar to that in the found in the Pepysian Sketchbook, in the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College Cambridge. Over time it also became popular to commission individual artists to create designs for stained glass.

The Burrell Collection has some examples of the preparatory sketches for stained glass such as the one below. It is a 17th century ink design by Jacob Weber (not on display).

Burrell Collection Cartoon - Jacob Weber, 17th century
Burrell Collection Cartoon – Jacob Weber, 17th century

  A fine silver stained roundel in the collection depicting Adam and Eve shows how designs were copied from other sources, in this case the Nuremberg Chronicles. The Nuremberg Chronicles are an illustrated history of the human world linked in to Biblical stories and theology. It was originally written in Latin around 1493 by Hartmann Schedel, and then translated into German by Georg Alt. It was one of the first books to successfully integrate illustrations with the text, and these were often the inspiration for stained glass panels and tapestries. The Burrell Collection example of Adam and Eve in the “Expulsion from the Garden of Eden” panel is shown below.

Burrell Collection - Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Burrell Collection – Expulsion from the Garden of Eden

Unfortunately the panel has lost a lot of paint, but it is still possible to see how closely it copied the page from the Nuremberg chronicles, below:

Nuremberg chronicles - Expulsion from Eden
Nuremberg chronicles – Expulsion from Eden

Nuremberg Chronicle by Hartmann Schedel.  Classmark Inc.0.A.7.2[888]. Reproduced by kind permission of the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.

You can see how they have literally drawn the design directly from the book:

Expulsion from the Garden - area used for the roundel
Expulsion from the Garden – area used for the roundel