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The term stained glass can refer to the material of coloured glass or the craft of working with it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term "stained glass" has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches, cathedrals, chapels, and other significant buildings. Although traditionally made in flat panels and used as windows, the creations of modern stained glass artists also include three-dimensional structures and sculpture.

Modern vernacular usage has often extended the term "stained glass" to include domestic leadlight and objets d'art created from lead came and copper foil glasswork exemplified in the famous lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

As a material stained glass is glass that has been coloured by adding metallic salts during its manufacture. The coloured glass is crafted into stained glass windows in which small pieces of glass are arranged to form patterns or pictures, held together (traditionally) by strips of lead and supported by a rigid frame. Painted details and yellow stain are often used to enhance the design. The term stained glass is also applied to windows in which the colours have been painted onto the glass and then fused to the glass in a kiln.

Stained glass, as an art and a craft, requires the artistic skill to conceive an appropriate and workable design, and the engineering skills to assemble the piece. A window must fit snugly into the space for which it is made, must resist wind and rain, and also, especially in the larger windows, must support its own weight. Many large windows have withstood the test of time and remained substantially intact since the late Middle Ages. In Western Europe they constitute the major form of pictorial art to have survived. In this context, the purpose of a stained glass window is not to allow those within a building to see the world outside or even primarily to admit light but rather to control it. For this reason stained glass windows have been described as 'illuminated wall decorations'.

The design of a window may be non-figurative or figurative; may incorporate narratives drawn from the Bible, history, or literature; may represent saints or patrons, or use symbolic motifs, in particular armorial. Windows within a building may be thematic, for example: within a church - episodes from the life of Christ; within a parliament building - shields of the constituencies; within a college hall - figures representing the arts and sciences; or within a home - flora, fauna, or landscape.


Glass production

From the 10th or 11th century, when stained glass began to flourish as an art, glass factories were set up where there was a ready supply of silica, the essential product of glass manufacture. Glass was usually coloured by adding metallic oxides to the glass while in a molten state in a clay pot over a furnace. Glass coloured in this way was known as pot metal. Copper oxides were added to produce green, cobalt for blue, and gold was added to produce red glass. Much modern red glass is produced using ingredients less expensive than gold and giving a brighter red of a more vermilion shade.

Cylinder glassThis glass was collected from the pot into a molten ball and blown, while being continually manipulated until it formed a large cylindrical bottle shape of even diameter and wall-thickness. It was then cut open, laid flat and annealed to make it stable. This is the type of glass most commonly used for ancient stained glass windows.

Crown glassThis glass was partly blown into a hollow vessel, then put onto a revolving table which could be rapidly spun like a potter's wheel. The centrifugal force caused the molten material to flatten and spread outwards. It could then be cut into small sheets. This glass could be made coloured and used for stained glass windows, but is typically associated with small paned windows of 16th and 17th century houses. The concentric, curving ripples are characteristic of this process. The center of each piece of glass received less force during the spinning, and thus produced was a thicker piece. These centres were for the special effect created by their lumpy, refractive quality. They are known as bull's eyes and are feature of late 19th century domestic leadlight and are sometimes also used with cathedral glass or quarry glass in non-pictorial church windows of that date.

Table glassThis glass was produced by pouring molten glass onto a metal table and sometimes rolling it with a large metal cylinder. The glass thus produced is heavily textured by the reaction of the glass with the cold metal. Glass of this appearance is commercially produced and widely used today, under the name of cathedral glass, although it was not the type of glass favoured for stained glass in ancient cathedrals. It has been much used for lead lighting in churches in the 20th century. Modern glass made by this technique is often heavily patterned by the use of an engrave metal roller.

Flashed glassRed pot metal glass was often undesirably dark in colour and prohibitively expensive. The method developed to produce red glass was called flashing. In this procedure, a semi-molten cylinder of clear glass was dipped into a pot of red glass so that the red glass formed a thin coating. The laminated glass thus formed was cut, flattened and heat annealed.

There are a number of advantages to this technique. It allows a variety in the depth of red ranging from very dark and almost opaque, through ruby red to pale and sometimes streaky red that was often used for thin border pieces. The other advantage was that the red of double-layered glass could be engraved or abraded to allow light to shine through the clear glass underneath. In the late Medieval period, this method was often employed to add rich patterns to the robes of Saints. The other advantage, much exploited by late Victorian and early 20th century artists, was that sheets could be flashed in which the depth of colour varied across the sheet. This was applied to a range of colours. Some stained glass studios, notably Lavers, Barraud and Westlake in England, made extensive use of large segments of irregularly flashed glass in robes and draperies.

Modern production of traditional glassThere are a number of glass factories, notably in Germany, USA, England, France, Poland and Russia, which produce high quality glass by traditional methods. Such glass is produced primarily for the restoration of older windows from 1920s and before. The production of new windows in traditional Victorian, Arts and Crafts and early 20th century styles often uses traditional glass. Modern stained glass windows also often use a variety of these different types of glass, or employ commercially made glass.

Creating stained glass windows

  • The first stage in the production of a window is to make, or acquire from the architect or owners of the building, an accurate template of the window opening that the glass is to fit.
  • The subject matter of the window is determined to suit the location, a particular theme, or the whim of the patron. A small design called a Vidimus is prepared which can be shown to the patron.
  • A traditional narrative window has panels which relate a story. A figurative window could have rows of saints or dignitaries. Scriptural texts or mottoes are sometimes included and perhaps the names of the patrons or the person as whose memorial the window is dedicated. In a window of a traditional type, it is usually at the discretion of the designer to fill the surrounding areas with borders, floral motifs and canopies.
  • A full sized cartoon is drawn for every "light" (opening) of the window. A small church window might typically be of two lights, with some simple tracery lights above. A large window might have four or five lights. The east or west window of a large cathedral might have seven lights in three tiers with elaborate tracery. In Medieval times the cartoon was drawn straight onto a whitewashed table, which was then used for cutting, painting and assembling the window.
  • The designer must take into account the design, the structure of the window, the nature and size of the glass available and his or her own preferred technique. The cartoon is then be divided into a patchwork as a template for each small glass piece. The exact position of the lead which holds the glass in place is part of the calculated visual effect.
  • Each piece of glass is selected for the desired colour and cut to match a section of the template. An exact fit is ensured by grozing the edges with a tool which can nibble off small pieces.
  • Details of faces, hair and hands can be painted onto the inner surface of the glass in a special glass paint which contains finely ground lead or copper filings, ground glass, gum arabic and a medium such as wine, vinegar or (traditionally) urine. The art of painting details became increasingly elaborate and reached its height in the early 20th century.
  • Once the window is cut and painted, the pieces are assembled by slotting them into H-sectioned lead cames. The joints are then all soldered together and the glass pieces are stopped from rattling and the window made weatherproof by forcing a soft oily cement or mastic between the glass and the cames.
  • Traditionally, when the windows were inserted into the window spaces, iron rods were put across at various points, to support the weight of the window, which was tied to the rods by copper wire. Some very large early Gothic windows are divided into sections by heavy metal frames called ferramenta. This method of support was also favoured for large, usually painted, windows of the Baroque period.
  • From 1300 onwards, artists started using silver stain which was made with silver nitrate. It gave a yellow effect ranging from pale lemon to deep orange. It was usually painted onto the outside of a piece of glass, then fired to make it permanent. This yellow was particularly useful for enhancing borders, canopies and haloes, and turning blue glass into green glass for green grass.
  • By about 1450 a stain known as Cousin's rose was used to enhance flesh tones.
  • In the 1500s a range of glass stains were introduced, most of them coloured by ground glass particles. They were a form of enamel. Painting on glass with these stains was initially used for small heraldic designs and other details. By the 1600s a style of stained glass had evolved that was no longer dependent upon the skilful cutting of coloured glass into sections. Scenes were painted onto glass panels of square format, like tiles. The colours were annealed to the glass and the pieces were assembled into metal frames.
  • In modern windows, copper foil is now sometimes used instead of lead. For further technical details, see Lead came and copper foil glasswork.
  • In the late 19th and 20th centuries there have been many innovations in techniques and in the types of glass used. Many new types of glass have been developed for use in stained glass windows, in particular Tiffany glass and Slab glass.

Technical details

Image:Heaton, Butler and Bayne01.png|Maquette by Heaton, Butler and Bayne, 19th century English manufacturersFile:Pt-coimbra-sevelha3.jpg|Exterior of a window at Sé Velha de Coimbramarker, Portugalmarker, showing a modern steel armatureFile:Glazier tools.JPG|A set of glaziers' toolsFile:Meaux Vitrail 1867 30808 3.jpg|Skilled glass cutting and leading in a 19th century window at Meaux Cathedralmarker, FrancemarkerImage:Canterbury Cathedral 012 window showing leading and support.JPG|Thomas Becket window from Canterburymarker showing the pot metal and painted glass, lead H-sectioned cames, modern steel rods and copper wire attachmentsFile:Stained glass colours.jpg|Colours and mediums for painting on glassFile:Palette with tools1.jpg|A palette and tools to prepare colours for painting on glassImage:SML-Stained-Glass-5.jpg|A small panel by G. Owen Bonawit at Yale Universitymarker, c.1930, demonstrates grisaille glass painting enlivened with silver stain.Image:Muzeum Sułkowskich - Zabytkowy Witraż.jpg|European panel, 1564, with typical painted details, extensive silver stain, Cousin's rose on the face, and flashed ruby glass with abraded white motifImage:Eyneburg_7.jpg|Detail from a 19th or 20th century window in Eyneburg, Belgiummarker, showing detailed polychrome painting of face.



Coloured glass has been produced since ancient times. Both the Egyptians and the Romans excelled at the manufacture of small coloured glass objects. The British Museummarker holds two of the finest Roman pieces, the Lycurgus Cup, which is a murky mustard colour but glows purple-red to transmitted light, and the Portland vase which is midnight blue, with a carved white overlay.

In Early Christian churches of the 4th and 5th centuries there are many remaining windows which are filled with ornate patterns of thinly-sliced alabaster set into wooden frames, giving a stained-glass like effect. Windows using stained glass were first created by Islamic architects in Southwest Asia. In the 8th century, the Muslim alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (Geber) scientifically described 46 original recipes for producing coloured glass in Kitab al-Durra al-Maknuna (The Book of the Hidden Pearl), in addition to which 12 recipes were inserted by al-Marrakishi in a later edition of the book. Jabir also described the production of high quality coloured glass cut into artificial gemstones.

Image:Alabastron Italy Louvre S2375.jpg|A perfume flask from 100 BCE-200 CEImage:Portland Vase BM Gem4036 n5.jpg|The Portland Vase, a rare example of Roman flashed glassImage:Orvieto083.jpg|An alabaster window in Orvieto Cathedralmarker, ItalyImage:Nasirolmolk.jpg|Stained glass in the Nasir al-Mulk mosque in Shirazmarker, Iran

Medieval glass

For further infornation about stained glass technology:

Stained glass, as an art form, reached its height in the Middle Ages when it became a major pictorial form and was used to illustrate the narratives of the Bible to a largely illiterate populace.

In the Romanesque and Early Gothic period, from about 950 AD to 1240 AD, the untraceried windows demanded large expanses of glass which of necessity were supported by robust iron frames, such as may be seen at Chartres Cathedralmarker and at the eastern end of Canterbury Cathedralmarker. As Gothic architecture developed into a more ornate form, windows grew larger, affording greater illumination to the interiors, but were divided into sections by vertical shafts and tracery of stone. The elaboration of form reached its height of complexity in the Flamboyant style in Europe and windows grew still larger with the development of the Perpendicular style in England.

Integrated with the lofty verticals of Gothic cathedrals and parish churches, the glass designs became more daring. The circular form, or rose window developed in France from relatively simple windows with pierced openings through slabs of thin stone to wheel windows, as exemplified by that in the West front of Chartres Cathedralmarker, and ultimately to designs of enormous complexity, the tracery being drafted from hundreds of different points, such as those at Sainte-Chapellemarker, Parismarker and the "Bishop's Eye" at Lincoln Cathedralmarker.Image:Süddeutscher Glasmaler 001.jpg|Daniel from Augsburgmarker Cathedral, early 12th c. One of the oldest examples in situ.File:Vitrail Chartres 210209 07.jpg|Detaile of a 13th century window from Chartres CathedralmarkerFile:Ulm-Muenster-NeithartKapelleFenster-061209.jpg|Detail of a window of St George by Hans Acker (1440) in Ulm Minstermarker, GermanyFile:Musee-de-l-Oeuvre-Notre-Dame-Strasbourg-IMG 1465.jpg|A figure from Strasbourg CathedralmarkerFile:Chartres Cathedral North Transept North Rose Window 2007 08 31.jpg|The North Transept windows from Chartres CathedralmarkerImage:Canterbury Cathedral 020 Poor Mans Bbible Window 01.jpg|The Poor Man's Bible window at Canterbury Cathedralmarker, 13th c.File:York Minster West Window.jpg|The west window of York MinstermarkerImage:Sainte-Chapelle-Rose-window.jpg|The rose window from Sainte-Chapellemarker, 15th c.

The Renaissance and Reformation

In Europe, stained glass continued to be produced with the style evolving from the Gothic to the Classical style, which is widely represented in Germanymarker, Belgiummarker and the Netherlandsmarker, despite the rise of Protestantism. In Francemarker, much glass of this period was produced at the Limogesmarker factory, and in Italy at Muranomarker, where stained glass and faceted lead crystal are often coupled together in the same window. Ultimately, the French Revolution brought about the neglect or destruction of many windows in France.At the Reformation, in England large numbers of Medieval and Renaissance windows were smashed and replaced with plain glass. The Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII and the injunctions of Oliver Cromwell against "abused images" (the object of veneration) resulted in the loss of thousands of windows. Few remain undamaged; of them the windows in the private chapel at Hengrave Hallmarker in Suffolk are among the finest. With the latter wave of destruction the traditional methods of working with stained glass died and were not to be rediscovered in England until the early 19th century. See Stained glass - British glass, 1811-1918 for more details.

File:Ablis - détail vitrail nord.jpg|St Anne with the Virgin and a saint, Ablismarker, Yvelinesmarker, France, mid 16th centuryFile:Tempelreiniging.jpg|The Cleansing of the Temple by Dirk Crabeth (1567), Janskerk marker, NetherlandsFile:Venezia - Chiesa dei SS. Giovanni e Paolo (S. Zanipolo) - Foto G. Dall'Orto 2 lug 2006 - 10.jpg|Renaissance window in the church of SS Giovanni and Paolo, Venicemarker 16th centuryImage:Ghent Cathedral stained glass.jpg|Ghent Cathedralmarker, Belgium, 16th centuryFile:St Germain des Prés fenêtre.jpg|Stained glass in the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Présmarker, ParismarkerImage:Dramburg Kirchenfenster.jpg|Drawsko Pomorskiemarker Church, a good example of heraldic glassImage:AndelysVitrail.jpg|Les Andelysmarker, Normandy, 16th centuryImage:Altenberger Dom03.jpg|Altenberg Cathedral, a colourless window in the style known as Grisaille with a small heraldic motif

Revival in Britain

The Catholic revival in England, gaining force in the early 19th century, with its renewed interest in the medieval church brought a revival of church building in the Gothic style, claimed by John Ruskin to be "the true Catholic style". The architectural movement was led by Augustus Welby Pugin. Many new churches were planted in large towns and many old churches were restored. This brought about a great demand for the revival of the art of stained glass window making.

Among the earliest 19th century English manufacturers and designers are William Warrington and John Hardman of Birmingham whose nephew, John Hardman Powell, who had a commercial eye and exhibited works at the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1873, influencing stained glass in the United States of America. Other manufacturers include William Wailes, Ward and Hughes, Clayton and Bell, Heaton, Butler and Bayne and Charles Eamer Kempe. A Scottish designer, Daniel Cottier, opened firms in Australia and the US.

File:St Andrews window 08 6 west John and Paul.jpg|Detail, Apostles John and Paul, Hardman of Birmingham, 1861-67, typical of Hardman in its elegant arrangement of figures and purity of colour. St. Andrew's Cathedral, SydneymarkerFile:Lincoln Cathedral East window.jpg|One of England's largest windows, the east window of Lincoln Cathedralmarker, Ward and Nixon (1855), is a formal arrangement of small narrative scenes in roundelsImage:Chilham StMarys EastWindow19thC.JPG|William Wailes. This window has the bright pastel colour, a wealth of inventive ornament and stereotypical gestures of windows by this firm. St Mary's, ChilhamImage:Peterborough Cathedral glass 02 b.JPG|Clayton and Bell. A narrative window with elegant forms and colour which is both brilliant and subtle in its combinations. Peterborough Cathedralmarker

Revival in France

In France there was a greater continuity of stained glass production than in England. In the early 19th century most stained glass was made of large panes that were extensively painted and fired, the designs often being copied directly from oil paintings by famous artists. In 1824 the Sevres Porcelain factory began producing stained glass to supply the increasing demand.In France many churches and cathedrals suffered despoilation during the French Revolution. During the 19th century a great number of churches were restored by Viollet-le-Duc. Many of France's finest ancient windows were restored at this time. From 1839 onwards much stained glass was produced that very closely imitates medieval glass, both in the artwork and in the nature of the glass itself. The pioneers were Henri Gèrente and Andre Lusson.Other glass was designed in a more Classical manner, and characterised by the brilliant cerulean colour of the blue backgrounds (as against the purple-blue of the glass of Chartres) and the use of pink and mauve glass.

File:Vitrail du 19ème siècle Reims 020208 03.jpg|Detail of a "Tree of Jesse" window in Reims Cathedralmarker designed in the 13th century style by L. Steiheil and painted by Coffetier for Viollet-le-Duc, (1861)File:Thouars église St Médard (10).JPG|St Louis administering Justice by Lobin in the painterly style. (1809) Church of St Medard, Thouarsmarker.File:Cassagnes vitrail 1.JPG|A brilliantly-coloured window at Cassagnes-Bégonhèsmarker, AveyronmarkerFile:Vitrail Saint-Urbain Troyes 110208 05.jpg|West window from Saint-Urbain, Troyesmarker, (about 1900)

Revival in Europe

During the mid to late 19th century, many of Germany's ancient buildings were restored, and some, such as Cologne Cathedralmarker were completed in the medieval style. There was a great demand for stained glass. The designs for many windows were based directly on the work of famous engravers such as Albrecht Durer. Original designs often imitate this style. Much 19th century German glass has large sections of painted detail rather than outlines and details dependent on the lead. The Royal Bavarian Glass painting Studio was founded by Ludwig I in 1827. A major firm was Mayer of Munich which commenced glass production in 1860, and is still operating as Franz Mayer of Munich, Inc.. German stained glass found a market across Europe, in America and Australia. Stained glass studios were also founded in Italy and Belgium at this time.

File:0702246987 bodenstein.jpg|A painted memorial window, Castle Bodenstein, Germanymarker, early 19th centuryImage:Cathedral 2 by andy205.jpg|One of five windows donated to Cologne Cathedralmarker by Ludwig IIImage:Abendmahl Gedaechtniskirche Speyer.jpg|Post-Reformation window in the Memorial Church, Speyermarker, GermanyImage:Stained glass in Saint Maurice churche, Olomouc.jpg|An early 20th century window in the 17th century style, St Maurice's Church, Olomouc, Czech Republicmarker

Innovations in the United States

Notable American practitioners include John La Farge (1835-1910) who invented opalescent glass and for which he received a US patent February 24, 1880, and Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), who received several patents for variations of the same opalescent process in November of the same year and is believed to have invented the copper foil method as an alternative to lead, and used it extensively in windows, lamps and other decorations.

File:Girl with Cherry Blossoms - Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company, c. 1890.JPG|Many of the distinctive types of glass invented by Tiffany are demonstrated within this single small panel including "fracture-streamer glass" and "drapery glass".Image:Tiffany_stained_glass.jpg|Window by Louis Comfort Tiffany with opalescent glass, asymmetric design and casual combination of flashed, painted and pot metal glass within the formal framework of supporting barsImage:The Holy City.jpg|The Holy City by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1905). This 58-panel window has brilliant red, orange, and yellow etched glass for the sunrise, with textured glass used to create the effect of moving water.File:John LaFarge, Angel of Help (North Easton, MA).JPG|John La Farge, The Angel of Help, North Easton, MAmarker shows the use of tiny panes contrasting with large areas of flashed or opalescent glass.

Innovations in Britain and Europe

Among the most innovative English designers were the Pre-Raphaelites, William Morris (1834-1898) and Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), whose work heralds Art Nouveau.Art Nouveau or Belle Epoch stained glass design flourished in France, and Eastern Europe, where it can be identified by the use of curvings sinous lines in the lead, and swirling motifs. In France it is seen in the work of Francis Chigot of Limoges. In Britain it appears in the refined and formal leadlight designs of Charles Rennie Macintosh.

File:David's Charge to Solomon, by Burne-Jones and Morris, Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts.JPG|David's charge to Solomon shows the strongly linear design and use of flashed glass for which Burne-Jones' designs are famous. Trinity Church, Boston, US, (1882)Image:Kraków - Church of St. Francis - Stained glass 01.jpg|God the Creator by Stanisław Wyspiański, this window has no glass painting, but relies entirely on leadlines and skilful placement of colour and tone. Franciscan Church, Krakówmarker (c.1900)Image:Mucha window in St Vitus.JPG|Window by Alfons Mucha, Saint Vitus Cathedralmarker Prague.Image:Aquarium de l'Ecole de Nancy 04 by Line1.jpg|Art Nouveau by Jacques Grüber, the glass harmonising with the curving architectural forms that surround it, Musée de l'École de Nancymarker (1904).

Twentieth century

Many 19th century firms failed early in the twentieth century as the Gothic movement had been superseded by newer styles. At the same time there were also some interesting developments where stained glass artists took studios in shared facilities. Examples include the Glass House in London set up by Mary Lowndes and A.J. Drury and An Túr Gloine in Dublin, which was run by Sarah Purser.

A revival occurred in the middle of the century because of the desire to restore the thousands of church windows throughout Europe, destroyed as a result of bombing during the World War II. German artists led the way. Much work of the period is mundane and often was not made by its designers but industrially produced.

Other artists sought to transform an ancient art form into a contemporary one, sometimes using only traditional techniques but often exploring the medium of glass in different ways and in combination with different materials. The use of slab glass set in concrete was another 20th century innovation. Gemmail glass, developed in 1936, by the French artist Jean Crotti, is a type of stained glass where the pieces of glass that are adjacent to each other overlap allowing for a greater diversity and subtlety of colour.

Among the early well-known 20th century artists who experimented with stained glass as an Abstract art form were Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian. In the 1960s and 70s the Expressionist painter Marc Chagall produced designs for many stained glass windows that are intensely coloured and crammed with symbolic details. Important 20th century stained glass artists include Douglas Strachan, Ervin Bossanyi, Louis Davis,Wilhelmina Geddes, Karl Parsons, Patrick Reyntiens, Ludwig Schaffrath, Johannes Shreiter, Judith Schaechter, Paul Woodroffe, Jean René Bazaine at Saint Séverinmarker and the Loire Studio of Gabriel Loire at Chartresmarker. The Luxus Keibel studio in Mexico specialises in domestic stained glass in both contemporary and 19th century styles. The west windows of Manchestermarker cathedral in England by Tony Hollaway are some of the most notable examples of symbolic work.

In the US, there is a 100-year-old trade organization, The Stained Glass Association of America, whose purpose is to function as a publicly recognized organization to assure survival of the craft by offering guidelines, instruction and training to craftspersons. The SGAA also sees its role as defending and protecting its craft against regulations that might restrict its freedom as an architectural art form. The current president is B. Gunar Gruenke of the Conrad Schmitt Studios. Today there are academic establishments that teach the traditional skills. One of these is Florida State University's Master Craftsman Program who recently completed a 30 ft high stained-glass windows installed in Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadiummarker.

File:Theo van Doesburg - Composition with window with coloured glass III.JPG|Modernist abstraction by Theo van Doesburg, Netherlandsmarker (1917)File:Tudeley church window.jpg|Expressionist window by Marc Chagall, at All Saints' Church, Tudeley, Kent, UKFile:Fenster im Staatsrat 3.jpg|Social Realism by Walter Womacka, Berlinmarker, (c.1965) demonstrating the use of overlaid and laminated glassImage:Meiningen Glasfenster Katholische Kirche.jpg|Abstract expressionism at Meiningen Catholic Church.Image:Vitro_buckfast.jpg|Christ of the Eucharist designed by the monks of Buckfast Abbeymarker, Devonmarker, England, slab glass.Image:Catedral do Sao Sebastiao.jpg|One of four -high stained glass panels, Rio de Janeiro Cathedralmarker, BrazilImage:Christinae kyrka tree of life01.jpg|Postmodernist symbolism, Tree of Life at Christinae church, Alingsås, Sweden.image:Stained glass eagle.jpg|The Bald Eagle, a good example of the product of commercial studios working with traditional techniques, Dryden High School, USA

Combining ancient and modern traditions

Image:Saint blaise.jpg|St. Walburge, Lorraine designer Gabriel Loire, mid-20th c., combines traditional pot metal and leading with modern design, achieving an overall appearance that acknowledges the Medieval origins.Image:Paris S Denis Fleur de Lys window 1986 crypt 1353 a a.JPG|Late 20th-c. window in the crypt of the Abbey of St Denismarker. The skilful adaptation of ancient tradition and modern style in a World Heritage Site. Fair use imageImage:Ins Kirchenfenster.jpg|Figurative design using the lead lines and minimal glass paint in the 13th century manner combined with the texture of Cathedral glass, Ins, SwitzerlandImage:Anton Martin Slomšek 1 - Cathedral of Maribor.jpg|A figurative design employing polychrome painting of faces and monochrome painting of shadowed areas, artist Marko Jerman, Maribor Cathedral, Sloveniamarker

Buildings incorporating stained glass windows

Churches and Cathedrals

Stained glass windows were commonly used in churches for decorative and informative purposes. Many windows are donated to churches by members of the congregation as memorials of loved ones. For more information on the use of stained glass to depict religious subjects, see Poor Man's Bible

  • Important examples


Stained glass windows in houses were particularly popular in Victorian era and many domestic examples survive. In their simplest form they typically depict birds and flowers in small panels, often surrounded with machine-made cathedral glass, which, despite what the name suggests, is pale-coloured and textured. Some large homes have splendid examples of secular pictorial glass. Many small houses of the 19th and early 20th centuries have leadlight windows.

Public and commercial use of stained glass

Town halls, schools, colleges and other public buildings often incorporate stained glass or leadlighting.

  • Public houses — In Britain, traditional pubs make extensive use of stained glass and leaded lights to create a comfortable atmosphere and retain privacy.
  • Sculpture


  • Theophilus, On Divers Arts, trans. from Latin by John G. Hawthorne and Cyril Stanley Smith, Dover, ISBN 0-486-23784-2
  • Elizabeth Morris, Stained and Decorative Glass, Doubleday, ISBN 0-86824-324-8
  • Sarah Brown, Stained Glass- an Illustrated History, Bracken Books, ISBN 1-858-91157-5
  • Painton Cowen, A Guide to Stained Glass in Britain, Michael Joseph, ISBN 0-7181-2567-3
  • Lawrence Lee, George Seddon, Francis Stephens, Stained Glass, Spring Books, ISBN 0-600-56281-6
  • Simon Jenkins, England's Thousand Best Churches, Allen Lane, the Penguin Press, ISBN 0-7139-9281-6
  • Robert Eberhard, Church Stained Glass Windows, [20921]
  • Cliff and Monica Robinson, Buckinghamshire Stained Glass, [20922]
  • Stained Glass Association of America, History of Stained Glass, [20923]

See also

External links

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