Glass of the Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a period of European history between the decline of the Roman Empire in the fifth century A.D. and the dawn of the Renaissance in 15th century Italy. During the 1,000 years of the Middle Ages also referred to as the Dark Ages, Europe underwent profound changes. David Whitehouse in Medieval Glass for Popes, Princes, and Peasant the book for the 2010 exhibition at The Corning Museum of Glass divides this period of history into three sections. The Early Middle Ages from the fifth to the eighth century, the Central Middle Ages starting with the eighth to the eleventh and the Late Middle Ages 12th to 14th centuries. Glass from the Early and Central Middle Ages is mostly a story of drinking vessels, bowls, cups, beakers, drinking horns, and bottles. In the later period drinking vessels start to decline in importance with the rise of stained glass used for the windows of cathedrals. The oldest-known fragments of medieval pictorial stained glass appear to date from the 10th century. The earliest intact figures are the five prophet windows at Augsburg Germany, dating from the late 11th century. At Canterbury and Chartres Cathedrals, a number of panels of the 12th century have survived. Most of the magnificent stained glass of France is in the famous windows of Chartres Cathedral, date from the 13th century. So important and beautiful are stained glass windows in the Middle Ages that generally, that is all you hear about on the subject of Medieval glass. Most of the glass vessels produced in the later Middle Ages in northern Germany, the Low Countries, and central Europe were made of transparent green Waldglas (forest glass). The color came from the presence of impurities (iron oxide) in the raw materials. This type of glass particularly the Berkemeyer and Krautstrunk evolved into the 17th century into the Roemer. This blog will concentrate on drinking vessels and only one picture of the magnificent windows of the Chartres Cathedral. The examples that follow are from The Corning Museum of Glass, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, V&A, British Museum Glass, Musee des Art Decoratifs and Allaire Collection. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.