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HEN the late naissance in the last years of the nineMatthew Ar- teenth century amidst the dust and nold, in the pur- clamor of our new-world mart is curious suit of the eva- enough. But in a country where, in desive quality of fault of cathedrals inherited from ages Distinction, gone by, our interest in the church is in questioned the part manifested by the fact that there German artist are more than four thousand religious whom he found edifices of different denominations now painting in the in course of construction, this revival is States concern- more than curious; it becomes a quesing the condition tion of eminent artistic importance. In of the Fine Arts the old world the field of the glass-stainer here, it is proba- is virtually limited to the Roman Cathoble that his in- lic Church and the Established Church quiry was of too of England. Here, with the widening of general a charac- sect-distinctions, the churches of nearly ter to include a all denominations are open to him, and particular ques- it needs no gift of prophecy to foresee, tion as to what in the near future, the clear sunshine this young coun- gaining admittance to all our churches try had achieved through colored glass, and carrying with
in so old an art as it messages of faith and fortitude, of joyglass-staining. Had he done so we may ous hope and reverent memory. assume (basing our supposition on the To uphold frankly the theory that the recorded answer to Mr. Arnold's general stained glass now made in the United inquiry) that the worthy German, gaz- States is better than that obtainable ing through the myopic spectacles elsewhere, and by reference to ancient which had served him so well in other standards to explain the reason for this directions, would have answered that belief, is the object of this paper; but in this, as in the other graphic arts, we first it becomes necessary to go back to had nothing to our credit. Nor could the origin of stained glass as we know we complain of either question or answer, it. had they been made by these strangers Glass, colored either by mixture of within our gates, for here, at home, great coloring matter in its making, or by numbers of cultivated people, including painting the glass already made with vita large class of men directly interested, rifiable colors, was known to the Greeks; hold the same opinion.
but although writers as ancient as GréAnd yet here in New York, and in the goire de Tours (544-595) speak with shadow of this indifference, the art of more or less detail of leaded glass, the the glass-stainer, which in the hands of earliest specimen that can be authentiits more legitimate heirs in Germany, cated is that in a church at Neuweiler, France, and England, by the grafting in Alsace, which dates from the eleyof elements antagonistic to its growth, enth century. It would appear from its had become a mere shadow of its for- purely decorative character, and from its mer self, has acquired new vigor, and inherent limitations, which to this day even now blossoms as the rose. That surround it, that stained glass had arthis art, which is so nearly allied to the rived at its apogee at a time when the art old world of the past, should find its re- of painting was just bursting from the
Well on in the thir- surfaces, and commencing from rude teenth century the Italian glass had ac and timid outlines to define the features complished more than the sister art of of the face or the division of the fingers, fresco, and the designs for the windows painting was at last used with little disin the Duomo at Florence made by Tad- crimination on all portions of the windeo or Agnolo Gaddi seem much more dow. Another of the limitations of the modern than their painting. The glass early glass-stainer, which was a blessing of this and the following century, much in disguise, was also to disappear with of which still exists, is notable for the the mechanical improvement in the mansubdued splendor of its color, and is ufacture of glass. At first his glass was almost (in the earlier specimens entirely) blown, not cast or rolled (indeed the without painting. In fact it was not latter method of fabrication is of late until the fifteenth century that elabor- date), and therefore the glass came to ate glass painting was attempted, and him in small pieces, and as the mixture from that period ensues a decadence in of the ingredients or the intensity of which the French and Germans, and to the fire would vary, so would the quala great extent the English, still remain. ity of the color. This gave him great For it is from the period of Raphael, variety of tint from which to choose, alwhen men began to paint freely and though it occasionally entailed arbitrary became high-priests at the altar of art leading, such as, to take a common ininstead of humble worshippers, that the stance, a lead-line crossing the neck of a mosaic of glass began to disappear and figure between the chin and shoulders, that transparent painting usurped its and thereby giving the saint a decapitatplace.
ed look. But by improvements in the Before this, the windows depending fabrication of glass, larger pieces were upon the actual color of the glass were obtainable, and always it would appear made in a manner not unlike the com as though the makers had an ideal only mon dissected
map of our childhood. To admirable in a plate-glass window nianmake a window, a design was made, gen- ufacturer, of making a sheet of glass erally the simple figure of a saint, with a uniform in color and texture. On these purely decorative background; pieces of large sheets of glass the painter had full glass of varying and appropriate colors swing; more and more vitrifiable colors were cut and placed in their proper were invented; a process of cutting away places, and it only remained to bind the surface so as to make a design apthese pieces firmly together by a ribbon pear in light upon the darker body of of lead with a groove on either side, the glass was devised; the colors became which was soldered at the junction of more and more uniform, until, proceedthe pieces, and to place the whole in an ing rapidly, we reach this century, iron frame, crossed at intervals by thin though in taking this arbitrary step, bars placed horizontally, to which the which the limits of an article such as leads were fastened by wires. The re- this command, we must pass by much sult would be a stained-glass window that is admirable. somewhat resembling that of the thir Anyone who has lingered in the aisles teenth century, or, so little have meth- of the old cathedrals, moved by the colods changed, that of the present time. or of the glass, which is glowing and When this frame, filled with glass, was jewel-like, never garish or harsh, and placed in the opening of the wall for then has turned, as we can do in some which it was destined, it would be seen cathedral towns, to the modern fabric, that the light coming through the trans- and has seen how crude in color, how parent glass brought into dark relief the small in treatment, how uniform in textlead-lines, which thus served as the out- ure, how manufactured, turned out by lines of the various forms represented. the métre carré it all is—such an one is This was the earliest development of apt to count glass-staining as one of the stained glass.
lost arts. The Continent is full of such In the two centuries that followed, places, where literally acres of stained painting with vitrifiable colors was re- glass are made each year. The designs sorted to in order to represent modelled are sometimes admirably drawn, though
somewhat too conventionally composed; tain archaic features in design and arbithe painting of heads and hands is of trary leading, some of the English armarvellous dexterity ; while the drap- tists—Burne Jones notably—have de.
eries are generally overloaded with paint- signed windows in which the sentiment ing, the painting being universally done expressed is more personal, while they on a flat piece of glass, of which the orig- respect the limitations of their material inal color remains for the high lights, more than the designers of the Contithe half-tones and shadows being ob- nent. The English, also, by a systemtained by vitrifiable pigments. Eng- atic employment of semi-neutral tones, land has profited rather more than avoid the harsh primary reds, yellows, France or Germany by the study of old and blues of the German and French examples, for while in the latter coun- makers, and their glass, although unfittries such study has resulted apparently ted for the strong light prevalent in in nothing more than a retention of cer our climate, has nevertheless a subdued