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The Virtual othic Cathedral

Painting With Light: The Donors


stained glass, OxfordLike many of the employable artists of the period, the glass painters were craftspeople hired on commission.
Sponsors included church dignitaries, lords and noblemen. However, a good number of windows were also bought and paid for by other craft guilds - the butchers and coopers, bakers and cloth makers, vinters and masons.

One reason for the expensive outlay by the guilds (who sometimes struggled to meet the cost) was a sort of commemorative plaque ensuring that the group remained in the church's good graces. The other was social distinction and a declaration of success and prestige within the community.

Very rarely did the church have to force a commission from a guild, although it was not unheard of - in 1254 the winegrowers at the Cathedral of St. Julien at Le Mans were forced to donate a stained glass window after arriving late at a special service.

Bourges stained glassIt was customary to commission either a whole window or at least part of one. Unlike the lords and noblemen who usually chose to be remembered in a solemn, prayerful pose, the guilds were most often portrayed in the height of activity in their shops or out in the field.

Chartres Cathedral, in particular, remains an excellent visual record of medieval trade and custom between the years 1200 - 1240 when the stained glass craze was at its height.

The Donors

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