The History of Stained Glass

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The History of Stained Glass The ancient history of stained glass is unclear. There have only been tiny glimpses into the beginnings of this fascinating medium. Once it was considered a luxury item by the ultra- wealthy in resort towns like Pompeii, only to be lost by natural disaster. Its secrets were buried for centuries. As time moved on, stained glass resurfaced as an art and a craft. Its techniques were recorded. It was occasionally used in Byzantine churches and by early Christians. It gained more popularity in the Romanesque period. It wasn’t until the Gothic period that stained glass began its rise to fame. It once again was lost by disaster, however this time humans were behind it. The early Renaissance art changed the glory and technique of stained glass and it seemed to lose its luster. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the tradition of stained glass would be restored. The art began its move west from Europe to America and was a great success into the 20th century. The oldest known stained glass remains were uncovered in the Italian towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. This dates back to at least the first century A.D. before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.. It was known that wealthy Romans would spare no expense on their fancy villas and palaces. Stained glass was a luxury item and wouldn’t be considered an art form for many years. In the early 4th century stained glass became regarded as an art form when Christians were permitted to worship in public. In the 10th century a pictorial stained glass Head of Christ was the earliest intact excavated piece of glass found at the Lorsch Abbey in Germany. Over the centuries bits and pieces have been found across Europe. The oldest intact stained glass windows are in Bavaria, Germany. Five small frames depicting Old Testament figures are housed in the Augsburg cathedral.

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