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English Stained Glass Hardcover – 3 Mar 2008
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The images are sure to provide inspiration for ecclesiastical specialists.
`A work of solid scholarship and real artistry ... superb pictures - best of its type currently available ... first-class text ... outstanding ... a treasury of major medieval art-works'
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As to geographical coverage, a glance at the map that appears in the book shows the following distribution: northern England (i.e. England north of Cheshire and South Yorkshire) draws on examples from thirteen places; the Midlands (including Oxfordshire) twenty-two; East Anglia nine; and southern England twenty-two. Cowen states that these boundaries reflect regional schools of stained glass. In county terms, most are from North Yorkshire (eight) and Oxfordshire (five), followed by Devon (four). Seven other counties have three, so there is quite a wide coverage.
In his eighteen-page introduction, Cowen remarks that although much early glass in England was produced on the continent, “the criterion for inclusion is that the glass was commissioned by English patrons for English churches.”
Separate panels in the introduction summarise how a window is made; donors and their heraldry; the daily life that is portrayed in stained glass; how glass instructed and educated those gazing at it; the depiction of saints, angels and devils; and conservation. Otherwise, Cowen’s introduction takes us through the fundamental artistic elements of glass in the medieval centuries.
Then follow the plates themselves, beautifully reproduced. Captions describe what is depicted but there is little on what particularly led the author to deduce the dates of their production or on features of the regional schools, or even on how certain aspects of the glass depicted were produced. But at least the reproductions have black borders. If only other publishers did the same.
So, a good and useful book for the stained-glass enthusiast, but some questions remain unanswered.
I was upset by a serious error in the description of the east window of Holy Trinity, Goodramgate, York. One of the panels is described as being of Salome and Zebedee, with John the Baptist. It is Mary Salome with her husband Zebedee, but their sons are John the Evangelist and James the Great. John the Evangelist is on her lap, with his symbolic attribute, an eagle on a book. If you look carefully on Mary's skirt, you can see a little person has been inserted. This is a girl, but it is a replacement for James, who should be playing at her feet.
This panel, and the panel showing Mary Cleophas, Alpheus and their four children, together with the Virgin and her parents, represents a very rare depiction in England of The Holy Kinship.
John the Baptist's parents are Elizabeth and Zechariah. Sorry, but it is important to me.
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