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Stained Glass
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STAINED GLASS Stained Glass in the Rhine Countries

ALL the Rhine provinces have, since the Gothic age (A.D. 1150-1500), developed the art of stained glass pretty much in the same fashion as practised in other countries in Europe; the first period under the monastic influence was similar in all respects to the early work preserved in Italy, France and England.
    Of this type a thirteenth-century quatrefoil (four-leaf), from the top of some abbey church window, showing the Virgin enthroned surrounded by angels, is a very interesting example. This bit of ancient glass, saved from the wreckage perhaps of a convent converted to secular use, has found a resting place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, where it is suspended in an upper section of a window without, however, the surround frame of a Gothic window so necessary to glass of this type. It is credited to French workmanship, but there is certainly quite as much Byzantine influence apparent in the painting of the glass as there is of French. The Byzantine school of art undoubtedly trained the hand of the workman. The color of the glass, deep, strong but subdued, is quite like that of the Italian medallion windows of the same period, or the French, or the English. Two roundels (Metropolitan Museum) of miniature painting, said to have been made by the "Master of the House Book" (1480-90) from drawings now in Leipzig, are evidently from a castle, wherein the amusements of the household are pictured as taking place on the jousting field.
    Two more roundels in the style of the "Master of the House Book," showing St. Peter and the Entry into Jerusalem (Cologne, 1500), are also in the Metropolitan Museum. The roundel, having a surrounding band of inscription and set in circles of plain glass, is thought to be from a drawing by Albrecht Dürer, "The Descent from the Cross," and is of the early sixteenth century.
    Belonging to the fifteenth century, the two panels representing the "Entombment" and the "Nativity with the Virgin and St. Joseph in Adoration of the Infant Christ," are now placed in a window at the Metropolitan Museum, where they may be seen to excellent advantage.
    Although considerably restored they present excellent examples of religious feeling as pictured in early times.
    The large share occupied by heraldry as a decorative accessory from the last quarter of the fifteenth century onwards, and the survival of the art of glass painting itself in unbroken tradition down to the year 1700, is to be remarked in the glass of the Rhinelands. Nothing could exceed the aesthetic grace and daintiness combined with decorative fitness of some of the specimens at Berlin, especially of certain products of the Cologne school.
    "Some of the most interesting glass of the Middle Gothic period is to be found in Germany," we are informed by the author of "Windows." "The Germans excelled especially in foliage design, which they treated in a manner of their own. The glass at Regensburg is an exceedingly good instance of this treatment; but instances of it are to be found also in the Museum at Munich, very conveniently placed for the purposes of study. The windows at Freiburg in the Black Forest should also be seen. But some of the very richest figure work of the period is to be found in the choir windows of St. Sebald's Church, at Nuremberg. Except for the simplicity of their lines, these are not striking in design; but the color is perhaps deeper than in the very richest of thirteenth-century glass. The first impression of it is that the composition is entirely devoid of white glass; but there proves to be a very small amount of honey-tinted material which goes nearest to that description. As the light fades towards evening these windows become dull and heavy; but on a bright day the intensity of their richness is unsurpassed. They have a quality which one associates rather with velvet than with glass."