Stained Glass Windows History and Exquisite Beauty

Medievil Stained Glass

An example of some of the first stained glass created.
An example of some of the first stained glass created.

How Stained Glass Began

The origin of stained glass windows has been lost in history, but it has admired for its beauty since the 10th century where depictions of Christ and biblical scenes graced churches in France, Germany and some in England.

Between the years of 1150-1500, stained glass reached its peak in Rome with magnificent windows being created for the great cathedrals.

A twelfth-century German monk, named Theophilus, gives the best known history of stained glass. He was an artist and metal worker. He studied glaziers and glass painters at work in order to provide more detail for creating attained glass window of immeasurable beauty. He wrote directions for craftsmen to follow.

Canterbury Cathedral, Glass by Beckett

Thomas Beckett, an Archbishop of Canterbury created numerous, gorgeous stained glass windows in the cathedral. He is venerated as a saint and martyr.  He was assassinated by followers of the King of England.
Thomas Beckett, an Archbishop of Canterbury created numerous, gorgeous stained glass windows in the cathedral. He is venerated as a saint and martyr. He was assassinated by followers of the King of England.

How Window Were Created

The methods for creating windows isn’t too different today. First you mark out the dimensions of length and width on a wooden board, draw the pattern that pleases you and select colors. Next, you cut the glass and fit the pieces together with the grozing iron (similar to a soldering iron). Enclose them with lead came and solder all four sides. Surround the glass window with a wooden frame and secure in place with nails. The windows must be well made to endure rain, wind, snow and, it must support its own weight.

The basic ingredients of glass in those times consisted of sand, and wood ash (potash); then, the mixture is melted into a liquid which cools as glass. The colors were made using metallic salts and powered metals during its manufacture while the glass was still molten. Molten glass can be blown into a sausage shape, and then slit on the side before flattened into a sheet.

The medieval stained glass windows in Canterbury Cathedral are among the earliest and finest in Europe. The oldest window, a charming depiction of Adam digging with a spade, dates from about 1180 AD, and more continued to be added throughout the Middle Ages. Thanks to a thorough program of cleaning and restoration in recent years, many of these windows are more beautiful now than they have been for centuries.

Canterbury Cathedral

The Art of Stained Glas

Stained glass is an art and a craft.  It requires the artist to have a vision to conceive their project and to choose colors and textures of glass that are pleasing to the eye.  There must be an appropriate workable design and the skills to fit the glass pieces snuggly together which can be quite difficult. 

Cathedral Stained Glass Across Europe

The Jessee Tree, 12th century, Chartres Cathedral, France
The Jessee Tree, 12th century, Chartres Cathedral, France
The presentation of Christ in the elder Bible window. Cologne, Germany
The presentation of Christ in the elder Bible window. Cologne, Germany
one of the sets of the French Maume Jean
one of the sets of the French Maume Jean
Notre Dame, north Rose Window
Notre Dame, north Rose Window
Abbot Sugar of Rome
Abbot Sugar of Rome

Stained Glass a Lost Art for 300 Years

By the 15th century paler colors were used which allowed more light and figures were larger. They rediscovered silver stain which allowed the artist to realistically depict yellow hair and golden garments. Stained glass artists became stained glass painters as the form moved closer to panel painting. The Renaissance brought the art of stained glass into a 300 year period where windows were heavily painted white glass, thus losing all their former glory and symbolism. Their innate beauty was all but forgotten.

Many of the stained glass windows remain after hundreds of years and are there for your viewing should you be fortunate enough to visit these exquisite cathedrals.


Jesus

© 2010 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 44 comments

DiamondRN profile image

DiamondRN 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

Here are some stained glass window pictures you might enjoy, Pamela. www.downeaststainedglass.com/churchpanels.html


TnFlash profile image

TnFlash 6 years ago from Tampa, Florida

Pamela, Awesome post!! This is excellent work! Up-rated, stumbled-upon and digg it.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Great hub and I had a great read.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Diamond & Jack, Thank you so much for your comments. Diamond, The windows at that site are beautiful. I will write about newer methods and newer glass another time soon. Thanks for giving me that website to enjoy.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Hello, I am glad you enjoyed the article.


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

Pamela,

The church I grew up in had beautiful stained glass windows also a great old pipe organ, Simpson Methodist in Moundsville.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Terrific hub, Pamela. How beautiful!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Tom & POP, Thanks for your comments.


Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

You are very creative and talented. Stained glass is beautiful, and even when I see it when it is not in a church setting, I still get that churchy feeling. I guess you really do have to have a vision to create beautiful stained glass, as well as energy and great focus which you obviously have since you are a maker of it. It must be nice to be so talented. Also, geneolgy research sounds intense and what is the DAR (if you do not mind me asking?)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Support Med, I am interested in so many things. The glass takes a vision and a lot of time but you really feel great when you make something beautiful

As for the genealogy, the DAR is the Daughters of the American Revolution. When tracing your family tree if you find one of your ancestors fought in the American Revolution then you can join. They will help you if you if you have done enough research that you are close to that generation. Thanks for your comment.


HealthyHanna profile image

HealthyHanna 6 years ago from Utah

Light. Beauty. Color.

We need more of this in our world today. Thanks for bringing out the reminder of beauty that is around us.


Mystique1957 profile image

Mystique1957 6 years ago from Caracas-Venezuela

Pam, this is truly beautiful. I was wondering why I liked Tiffany lamps so much, they remind me of these glorious works of art. Very good hub! I liked the details and the pictures are gorgeous!

Thanks for sharing this, dear Pam!

Two thumbs up!

warm regards and blessings,

Al


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Hanna and Mystique, Thank you so much for your comments.


carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 6 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

I just love what stained glass does to light; I've always been fascinated by the beauty of it. Thanks for a great hub!!


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Pamela99, It is beautiful, so you enjoy mnaking it too. My husband is more into, making lamps, small oval port hole style ones and tarariums.

The trouble is he makes them and gives them away, when had a couple of drinks. people dont like paying for them and do not realise how much work goes into making them. thanks for that


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Carolina and Eileen, Thanks for your comments. Eileen, I have given many pieces away, but to family as gifts. If you have a nice piece it would actually retail for a lot of money as it takes many hours and there is a lot of expense in buying glass and supplies. Your husband could be making some money but he apparently likes giving away his work. There are many people who will pay for nice pieces.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

You are welcome. I hope you enjoyed the pictures of the glass as well.


JannyC profile image

JannyC 6 years ago

Amazing hub! I did not know how long Stain glass has been around and I found this hug entertaining and informative. You learn something new every day!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Janny, Thank you for your comment. I didn't really know how long it had been around either until I did the research.


Roberta99 profile image

Roberta99 6 years ago

Quite a few years ago I got interested in stained glass.

It is fascinating work and I loved doing it. Your hub is terrific and makes me yearn to get back into it. Always look forward to reading your hubs.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Roberta, Maybe you should start again. Thanks for your comment.


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

This was a beautiful read, Pamela. I liked this history lesson as well. I believe that any kind of craftsmanship and workmanship is timeless. Awesome hub.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

dohn, Thank you so much. I love stained glass so you may see more hubs. Glad you enjoyed it.


nancy_30 profile image

nancy_30 6 years ago from Georgia

Great hub Pamela. I've always thought stained glass windows were beautiful. I never knew how they were made though. Thank you for this information and history on stained glass windows. I enjoyed reading it.


ateenyi profile image

ateenyi 6 years ago from Chicago

Excellent Hub Pamela!!!!!!

Stain glass has always attracted masses across the globe. It was between the years of 1150-1500, stained glass reached its peak in Rome with magnificent windows being created for the great cathedrals. The hub appears to be extremely young, vibrant, dynamic and colorful. Thanks for sharing.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Nancy and Steenyi, Thanks for your comments. Yes, Ateenyl, that is exactly the years 1150-1500, where stained glass reached its' peak in Rome bur there will be more to this story before as its history remains interesting with new artists emerging along the way.


wowik profile image

wowik 6 years ago

Thank you, very nice!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

wowik, Thank you for your comment/


myownworld profile image

myownworld 6 years ago from uk

Lovely hub...whenever I walk into a church with stain glass windows, I'm fascinated, especially when light filters in setting all the colors ablaze. Loved the hub, thanks for sharing.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Thank you so much for your comment.


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 6 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Pamela99, to your earlier reply- yes but we find people like the work he does and then think they can have it for a couple of dollars.

I cannot help it sometimes I have to laugh.

One lady offered us 50cents for a lampshade. I said you have to be joking, do you realise that one little piece of glass would be more than that. (we had $50 on the article)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Eileen, Thanks. People think they can get something for nothing sometimes. It's good to educate them!


katyzzz profile image

katyzzz 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

I love stained glass, Pamela, but I just know I'll never do it, but I love seeing it, it is really exquisite.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Katyzzz, Thank your so much for your comment.


Mrs Corey L Ross 6 years ago

I am a mosaic artist who has visited the Cloisters

Monastary Museum in Fort Tryon Park above Washington Heights in Manhattan numerous times and the establishment

is stupendous,the Rennaissance Period represents the birth of the Arts and Sciences of the numerous italian and French and Nordic Vikings of the 12th century backwards to the time of Jesus Christ.

The multicolored tapestry threads that were used by the Cloister Monks during that period to create magnificent religious tapestries of the Unicorn,the tragic Last Supper which was Jesus Christs last meal before he was crucified in Year one was absolutely beautiful and marks some of the most important dates in time,as well as his birth to the time of his death.

The Monks also created beautiful gregorian chant music for their catholic masses,and the herbs they grew became well noted as the food of the gods,and represents the natural healthy flavorings people through historical times used to enhance the taste of the foods they cooked for the holidays.

The Mideval stainglass windows that mark the important times in history when chivalry was considered one of the most important parts of socially refined gentlemenly behavior along with the way the brilliant colors allow the sun to reflect through is beyond magnificent description.

I happened to have done numerous mideval needlepoint tapestries myself,the beauty and gracefulness of the characters and the multiple colors that are used to design the needlepoint templets are mindblowing. I have done the

sighting and three medium sized ones and the unicorn and the one Iam doing currently for the last three years is gorgeous.

Iam hoping to purchase some magificent mideval stainglass window panels for an English Conservatory we are planning to add to a future townhouse we are considering purchasing within the next three years,Iam graduating this May with an associates degree in chemical dependency Counseling from Suffolk Community College in Brentwood NY,and we will be first time home buyers.

I think there is nothing more stupendous than an Edwardian English Conservatory room off a gothic diningroom, with every other window panel consisting of a renaissance or mideval stainglass window and having the sun peeking through the trees reflecting on these brilliantly colored windows.

If you know of an authentic stainglass window business that actually sells the mideval designed stainglass window panels please let me know,I keep getting

disrupted when I try to explore this website.

Sincerely Your's

Mrs Corey L Ross

E-mail Address is:

cheflaicha@aol.com


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

I have been to the Cloisters and that is a wonderful place to visit. It sound like you are very talented. I don't know of anyone who sells authentic medieval designs but will keep you in mind. Thanks for your comments.


mike1242 profile image

mike1242 6 years ago from London

Nice hub, good information


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Mike, Thanks for your comment.


Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 6 years ago from trailer in the country

I love stained glass windows...nice pictures.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States Author

Enlydia, Thank you for your compliment and comment. Much appreciated.


moneycop profile image

moneycop 5 years ago from JABALPUR

lovely..no one can think of such topic u covered..I was being there in a factory where Such coloured glasses are made...still here i found in depth knowledge...heads off

thanks!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

moneycop, I very much appreciate your kind comments.


erorantes profile image

erorantes 24 months ago from Miami Florida

Thank you miss pamela99. I am greatful to you for writing about the stained glass history. I love reading your article. It impressive how the europeans had the ability to create a beautiful piece with metal and glass. From now on I am going to be thinking about my reading glasses. The color of my eyes makes them look stain glass. You are wonderful.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 24 months ago from United States Author

erorantes, Thank you so much for all of your comments on my stained glass article.

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