Thursday, 30 October 2008

Christ in Majesty - thirteenth century glass

The tiny thirteenth century church at Aston Sandford in Buckinghamshire has a single panel of medieval glass, a glorious figure of Christ in Majesty labelled as 'Salvator Mundi' (Saviour of the World), set high in the east window of the chancel. The panel dates from the final years of the thirteenth century, so it is more-or-less contemporary with the building. The colour palette is interesting. Notice that unlike fifteenth century glass, there is no yellow painting on any of the white glass in the panel. The process of achieving this yellow on white, called yellow staining, involved applying a silver oxide compound to white glass and firing it. This process only reached England thirty years after this panel at Aston had been completed. So the heads and hands and feet, which in later glass would be white, are here rendered in a pink glass with applied black pigment. The rest of the figure is rendered in rich greens, rubys and yellow all produced by the pot-metal process, where oxides are added to the molten glass during production, rather than painted on the surface of the glass. The figure is set on a background of 'stiff leaf' foliage that reflects the naturalistic decorative motifs in architecture of this period.

Aston Sandford

The exterior of the church, with the clapboarded tower.

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