Stained Glass Art – A European Sampler of Refracted Light and Colour

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague. Czech Republic June 2010. Photo by J. Chong

My interest in stained glass art stems from only two introductory courses I took evenings over 20 years ago. I learned stained glass-making, both by using the easy copper foil technique for small pieces  and also the traditional, more difficult use of soldering lead channels and grouting those channels to hold heavy, larger pieces of glass.

The lead channel design method is just much more brutish and difficult in artistic execution. It is the classic design method that is found in centuries-old architecture for building structural stained glass art work. Just cutting glass pieces without breaking glass and wasting coloured glass, is a

Cathedrale de Notre Dame Strasbourg, France. June 2010. Photo by J. Chong

goal for any amateur. Then it was also wearing a safety mask to reduce inhalation of lead dust when pressing the grout into the channels to fuse the glass against the lead support channels.  Use of lead channels and grout allows an artist to create huge stained glass art pieces, several metres in size. If you see ugly, metal bars that seem to cut across some stained glass pieces, they are support bars, critical for structural stability of large stained glass pieces to prevent  heavy, welded glass pieces from buckling. Over the years, my appreciation for stained glass art has grown, for both traditional centuries-old and contemporary art pieces.

That is the extent of my knowledge on stained glass art –paltry, humble and easily awed by great, long lasting pieces of art.   I just want to share glimpses of this art I saw in various cathedrals and other buildings during my European trip in Freiburg (Germany), Strasbourg (France), Prague (Czech Republic), Copenhagen (Denmark) and Malmo (Sweden).  The pieces originate from medieval, renaissance, art nouveau and contemporary  eras.

 

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 Stained glass art can also be appreciated for how the artist may present the story in each glass “frame” to draw in the viewer. At times, the frame is just a reflective chapter of a larger stained glass artwork narrative.

Sometimes within a cathedral, there may be different suites of stained glass art pieces which have been designed by various master artists. Cathedrale de Notre Dame

St. Vitus Cathedral. Prague, Czech Republic June 2010. Photo by J. Chong. In art nouveau style.

Strasbourg, France was built between 1015 to 1439 with the completion of its spire. However with additional sections added thereafter, it  reflects architectural styles from Romanesque to Gothic.  Freiburg Cathedral was built over a long period, with bouts of rebuilding, from early 1200s to the 16th century. St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague was constructed from 926 to 1929 –with construction completion on the millenium of  St. Wenceslas!

Included with this sampler portfolio, are other liturgical artwork which the stained glass works provides a luminous backdrop of refracted light and contemplation.

Additional Reading:
Cathedrale de Notre Dame Strasbourg, France. Official site.

Freiburg im Breisgau. Munster: Building History.

History of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Angelika says:

    Fantastic photography!

    Ihave also seen beautiful stained glass windows in NY city. I’m not sure what the church’s name was…darn …could it be St. John’s..? The windows were in different shades of blue; breathtaking.

    Like

  2. Jean says:

    Unfortunately I’ve never been to NYC. Maybe someone else might enlighten us one day.

    Given the short time period we were there, it was difficult enough to make time to take any notes for individual pieces of art that I saw/photographed. Just making enough time to go through some of the huge cathedrals was enough in itself.

    Like

  3. mct88 says:

    These photos are amazing!

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Well I have to thank the original stained glass artists. I’m just the recorder-amateur photographer.

      Like

  4. ava says:

    Hi Ms. Jean, this post reminded me of one quote I love from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
    “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”
    Beautiful pictures and amazing that you’ve tried something like this, I have no skills whatsoever that involves the hand and some tools.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Ava, that’s a beautiful metaphor of the the light shining from within to reveal true beauty. Glad you enjoyed see the photos and the post. As you can tell, I spent alot of time piecing the blog post together.

      If you haven’t been to some great European cathedrals, hope you’ll go some day. The ones featured in the blog post are obviously huge places with so many different things to see inside.

      Like

  5. Jean: I met you on Susan’s blog. We have a lot in common it seems. I am going on a bike trip around Vancouver Island, from Langley, in July, and my friend is a stained glass artist. He has many photos on F.B. If you’d like to see them, let me know. My blog is keeping track of my training for my trip.

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    1. Jean says:

      I just like looking at stained glass, not to buy. Besides, I have a fundamental problem of too many empty canvasses and some of my own artwork that I’ve completed to hang up. I used to work in Langley. There will be a blog post in a few weeks to show where. 🙂 Have a great time on Vancouver Island. We will be there for only a short time with a stopover at Saltspring Island.

      Like

  6. Sartenada says:

    Fantastic beautiful. Because You know how to make, then You might to be interested about my posts:

    Inside churches in Finland:

    Stained glass windows.

    Glass paintings 1 / Vitrales 1 / Vitraux 1.

    Glass paintings 2 / Vitrales 2 / Vitraux 2.

    Last two posts show ordinary people in Finland make them.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      I saw some of the Finnish church stained glass window art. I found the one with fishes lovely and very different. Of course part of the problem for me to showcase Canadian stained glass church windows, is that a lot of the churches have been locked in the past few decades except when church is used, because of vandalism and theft. Very different than a few decades ago.

      Like

  7. Sartenada says:

    They are gorgeous. I always shoot photos from them when I see good ones.

    Some examples:

    Stained glass Windows in Finland

    Happy new week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Lovely designs. How old are some of the stained glass window art in these featured photos?

      Like

  8. Sartenada says:

    Actually, I never thought it, but if You want, I can try to investigate them.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Just asking. Only because some of the designs look “contemporary” in look and feel –some of the people figures, etc. have nice clean lines and more simpler iconography. No need to research. But for quite old medieval stuff that looks “contemporary”/abstract, it’s worth giving a century/date identifier. I’ve seen some rare “abstract” looking paintings which were medieval in age/original painter.

      Liked by 1 person

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