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Exhibition Unveils a New Collection of Stained Glass

The Getty Emerges as an Important Repository of Early Stained Glass

Images in Light: Newly Acquired Stained Glass
At the Getty, October 28,2003-April 4,2004

August 15, 2003

Los Angeles—Highlights from the Getty's new collection of medieval and Renaissance stained glass will be presented in the debut exhibition Images in Light: Newly Acquired Stained Glass, at the Getty Center, October 28, 2003–April 4, 2004.  With the Getty's recent addition of this group of objects, Los Angeles has become one of the most important cities in the country for the study of early stained glass.

The exhibition reveals the stunning beauty of stained glass, a central form of painting in medieval northern Europe, in a display of 22 selected works from the group of over 50 stained-glass panels acquired by the Getty. Spanning the 13th to 16th centuries, the works on display feature monumental, inspirational religious narratives created for Gothic churches and cloisters, as well as lively heraldic panels made for houses, town halls, and other secular settings. The exhibition provides an overview of stained-glass production throughout Europe from the High Middle Ages through the Renaissance, illustrating the technological innovation and stylistic changes that distinguish the greatest period of European stained glass.

"The notion of stained glass as a form of painting links it directly to other forms of medieval and early Renaissance art," says Deborah Gribbon, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and vice president, J. Paul Getty Trust. "The acquisition of this fine and diverse group of stained glass expands the scope of the Museum's collections, and complements our strong holdings in medieval manuscripts and early Renaissance drawings and paintings. Together, these works greatly enhance our visitors' understanding and appreciation of the arts of these periods."

Among the key pieces on display is The Virgin and Child (around 1335) by the Master of Klosterneuburg. Originally made for the one of the most important medieval churches, the Abbey of Klosterneuburg outside Vienna, the panel's lyrical and tender expression and brilliant coloration exemplify the zenith of the medieval glass painter's art. Visitors will be able to view this and other works in a carefully designed setting that evokes the experience of seeing the stained-glass panels in their original environments. Throughout the exhibitions gallery, numerous lighted "windows" will invite visitors to examine the radiant stained-glass works in all their detail.

A close-up look at the panel of Saint Margaret (around 1420–30) reveals that it is not only composed of many pieces of beautifully colored glass, but also that the surface of every piece is delicately painted in a wide range of brownish-to-black tones. The Virgin and Saint John, from a Crucifixion (around 1420) features delicate modeling of the faces and hands achieved by applying paint to clear glass and then dabbing it with a broad brush to create points of light. 

During the Renaissance (late 1400s–1600s), glass became more affordable and the use of stained glass spread to almost every aspect of life, adorning windows in private homes, universities, guildhalls, and other buildings. Wealthy and middle-class families began to fit small stained-glass panels into their homes, often featuring the family coat of arms. In the Heraldic Panel Showing the Eberler Family Arms (about 1490), a beautiful maiden discreetly armed with a knife is shown demurely turning away from an aggressive boar that is the symbol of the Basel family of Eberler. At the top of the panel, young women and men hunt in a landscape—a pastime that was thought to lead to amorous dalliances.

Images in Light: Newly Acquired Stained Glass will offer a timely opportunity for visitors to see a selection from the Getty's new stained-glass collection before a permanent installation can be designed for these delicate panels of color and light.

A Note on the Making of Stained Glass
The making of stained glass during the Middle Ages and Renaissance involved many steps and a variety of craftspeople. First an artist made a drawing of the overall composition to be used as a pattern for the entire window. A mix of hand-blown colored (called pot-metal) and clear glass was then cut into shapes to match the composition. The glass painter painted the glass pieces with vitreous paint (made of glass particles in a liquid binder) on the side facing the interior of the building. The paint fired to a range of brown and black tones. The side of the window facing outward was sometimes painted in places with silver stain (the origin of the term stained glass), which fired to a range of yellows from lemon to gold. Next, the pieces were assembled into the final panel using a network of lead strips, called cames, which were then soldered together and sealed with putty to keep out the elements.

Note to Editors: Images available upon request.
For more information, the public can call 310-440-7300 or visit

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The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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