Thursday, 1 February 2018

February: winter labours: "Whether the weather be cold…."

February Labours of the Month traditionally show people warming themselves by a cosy fire, like this wealthy man, with his fur hat, and yellow hose, toasting his toes by the supper pot.  His home has glazed windows, and smart tiled floor, as well as bowl and ewer over the large fireplace.

Labour of the Month for February, stained glass roundel © from the Burrell Collection, Glasgow

Designs were often taken from stock woodblock images, shared amongst glaziers, and other craftsmen:  this later one from  Norwich shows similar common elements, with a very fine fire.  

Norwich School stained glass roundel c. 1480-1500  © V&A Museum

There was more demand for domestic stained glass - as can be seen in the wealthier dress and home comforts portrayed - in the early 1500s, and the monthly Labours were a popular subject.  The borders show the  increasing use of silver stain painted on to create yellow areas on clear glass, as well as the continued use of the more easily controlled pot-metal yellow glass cut to shape (emphasising the large bowl).

This one from the same series (which may represent  the month of April?)  shows the inclement weather, as a well-dressed man dives into the porch away from the sudden shower of rain or snow.  The bare trees suggest winter, although the sward is green and he has abandoned his spade, but I like the sense of a familiar chilly weather moment caught in the stained glass.

Possibly the work of John Wattock, for Thomas Pykerell, mayor of Norwich in the 1520s and 30s. ©Norwich Castle Art Gallery & Museum

For more information on stained glass see the Boppard Conservation Project Glasgow and Vidimus.org (Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi).  The glazier's original sketch (for the patron) is called the vidimus.

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