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The Virtual othic Cathedral

Painting With Light: The Painters

medieval glazierLike many craftspeople in the Middle Ages, stained glass painters or glaziers completed a 4 or 5 year apprenticeship at an early age then undertook the role of journeyman.

But unlike other medieval crafts - say, a stonecutter who might have traveled alone with only his tool kit, glaziers would travel within a studio under the direction of a master glazier.

The traveling studio usually set up shop very near the cathedral building site. Sometimes, more than one major studio took part at the site, which is why in the 13th century (when demand was greatest) several different techniques can be identified within a single cathedral.

As the studios traveled from job site to job site, they took sketches and models. An early influence of the French illuminator's art is seen in many windows of the era, with many of the largest cathedrals in France stylistically similar to the Paris-Chartres studios. The French didn't stop at the border, however. Their hand can also be seen in the windows of Canterbury Cathedral, the cathedral of Lausanne, Switzerland along with those in the Spanish cathedral cities of Aragon, Toledo and Castille.

Rouen stained glassEngland and Germany were relative latecomers in perfecting the craft, although guild members were well paid and much respected. In a prominent medieval stained glass center like Leicester, England, senior members even held precedence over their local town government.

Generally, however, the
medieval craftsperson remained anonymous, except for names on cathedral account ledgers. And aside from Laurence at the Abbey at Westminster or Clemente of Chartres (who wrote his signature on a window in Rouen) few works memorialize any one single individual.

In fact, today we know more about their rich benefactors than the painters themselves...

The Painters


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