Stained glass got its reputation for subliminal, breath-taking beauty first in medieval Europe, where it was incorporated into stunning Gothic cathedrals with their flying buttresses, rose windows, and sky-high ceilings. These graceful works of architecture wouldn’t be the same with out their rows and rows of stained glass windows, whose intricate designs and images seemed to glow in the sunlight, filling interior spaces with jewel-like color.

The process of adding ground-up metals to molten glass to give it color dates from ancient Roman times, when stained-glass windows first appeared. The technique was perfected around 1150, when pieces of colored glass were assembled into patterns and then fitted between soldered strips of lead. At first these windows were mostly geometric in design, but during the Renaissance, artists would actually paint on the colored glass to create enormous glass paintings, whose religious imagery was illuminated by natural light.

For centuries, the Catholic Church was the only organization in Europe wealthy enough to afford such extravagance. During the Victorian Era, secular stained glass did appear as coats of arms or diamond-shaped Dutch windows, but this was rare.

It wasn’t until the late 19th century that stained glass made its way into laypeople’s homes. In 1889, architect E.S. Prior developed a new kind of glass called slag glass, which had irregular texture and color. This kind of glass was favored by those in the Arts and Crafts movement, who employed stained glass in abstract, geometric patterns to produce slag glass lamps, among other objects. From this innovation, Christopher Whall invented a new style of stained glass that focused on the lines made by the lead and used very little paint.

Some of Whall’s students found their way to the Glass House studios, run by Mary Lowndes and A.J. Drury. Whall also influenced Sarah Purser who founded the Tower of Glass studio in Dublin, run by Whall’s colleague A.E. Childs—the studio led to a revival of stained glass in Ireland. Over the decades, Tower of Glass produced work by influential designers like Michael Healy, Wilhelmina Geddes, and Evie Hone.

Meanwhile, around the turn of the century, American artists John LaFarge and Louis Comfort Tiffany set out to put a modern-day spin on medieval ideas with their stained glass windows, lamps, and works of art glass. LaFarge, like Tiffany, began his career as a painter and brought a painterly sensibility to unpainted glass. Sometimes he would layer pieces of differently colored glass to achieve new hues, and in 1879 he even developed and copyrighted a type of opalescent glass. These two rivals made both church and home windows.

The work of these artists became more intricate as a new process allowed them to assemble their stained glass with copper instead of lead. Tiffany jumped on new electric lamp tec...

After Tiffany’s and LaFarge’s experiments, stained glass became a more common medium for decorative artists, who made stained glass in patterns and images that reflected the movement du jour—Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, Art Deco, De Stijl, and Bauhaus. Frank Lloyd Wright designed stained-glass windows in geometric patterns intended to complement the serene lines and patterns of his rooms and their furniture. Piet Mondrian made stained-glass windows that echoed his famous black-on-white grid paintings with their colored squares. Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, and Henri Matisse are just a few of the other artists who executed pieces in stained glass.

During World War II, much of the medieval and Gothic style glass in Europe, usually featuring narrative religious scenes, was destroyed. After the war—particularly in Germany—it was replaced with stained glass in the abstract geometric patterns of the day. In fact, Germany is credited with completely breaking the art of stained glass from its pictorial past, starting with ’20s artists like Johann Thorn Prikker, and continuing after the war with Georg Meistermann, whose symbolic work had a sense of movement, and Ludwig Schaffrath, who created tremendous walls of light.

In France, artist Jean Crotti is credited with developing a technique in the 1930s known as gemmail, in which no lead or copper is used between the pieces of colored glass. Instead, the different pieces of glass are fused together, creating a 3D illusion. Many great paintings have been reproduced in glass using this method.

Stained glass thrived again as an art medium in the 1970s as artists, particularly on the West Coast, experimented with the design, imagery, and illusions that could be produced with glass. Their experiments often featured highly detailed imagery, optical illusions, organic shapes, or jokes on the nature of glass and windows. Jad Fair, Paul Marioni, Fred Abrams, Peter Mollica, Dan Fenton, Narcissus Quagliata, Otto B. Rigan, Kathie Stackpole Bunnell, James Hubbell, Dick Weiss, and Judy Raffael are among these modern innovators.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Loetz.com

Loetz.com

This fabulous site is a guide to Bohemian art glass makers from 1885 to 1920. Loetz was the premier Bohemian glass … [read review or visit site]

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Chris and Val Stewart’s impressive attempt to create a complete catalogue of all known cloud glass, a decorative … [read review or visit site]

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

The heart of this website, home of the Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club, is the Identification Project, whe… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Tiffany Studios Stained Glass Peony Lamp Shade Art Pottery Bamboo BaseJoan Rivers Stained Glass Bee Pin / Brooch Gold Tone With Green EyesAntique Bradley & Hubbard Table Lamp 16 Pc. Stained Glass With Lighthouse Scene**effervescent** Stained Glass Window Panel (signed And Dated)Superb Antique French Scrolled & Curled Wrought Iron Lantern Stained Glass C1910**autumnal Tree Of Life** Stained Glass Window Panel (signed And Dated)Antique Art Deco Stained Leaded Glass Exit Sign Leroy Theatre Pawtucket Ri 1920sTiffany-style 52" Halston Double Lit Stained Glass Ceiling Fan Blue NewTiffany-style Halston Double Lit Stained Glass Table Lamp Ice Blue NewOwl And Moon Stained GlassTiffany-style 24.5" Halston Double Lit Stained Glass Lamp Lavender Rose NewAntique Leaded Stained Glass Window Round Original 16" Floral Flower As Is Tiffany-style 22.25" Athena's Owl Double Lit Stained Glass Table Lamp New**rainbow Of Color *** Beveled Stained Glass Window Panel GeometricTiffany-style 25" Diamond Design Stained Glass Table Lamp NewUnusual Signed Joan Rivers Large Bee Pin Brooch Stained Glass Wings RhinestonesQuoizel 2 Light Tiffany Style Table Lamp Vintage Bronze Stained Glass ShadeTiffany-style 27" Halston Stained Glass Lit Pedestal Lamp Spice NewTiffany Style 26.25" Allistar Stained Glass Pedestal Lamp - RedAntique American Stained Glass Window,art & Crafts,bungalow,circa 1928*ocean Treasures* Stained Glass Panel Window, Ooak, Vintage Kaleidoscope Wood And Brass Double Wheel Stained Glass Footed Stand **colorfully Coiled** Stained Glass Window Panel (signed And Dated) Old Bubble Stained Glass Church Window Leaded Textured Antique Color Star Dale Tiffany Stained Glass Lamp Shade Disney Pin Dlp Event Paris Sleeping Beauty Stained Glass Aurora Kiss Le 400 RareGlassmasters Louis C Tiffany Stained Art Glass Work Of Two Birds Glas Design Mickey & Friends Designs For Stained Glass (full Size Patterns)Tiffany-style Brianne Wireless Led Stained Glass Wall Sconce W/ Remote Blue NewAntique Gothic Stained Glass ChandelierTiffany-style Set Of Two 8" Butterfly Stained Glass Touch Accent Lamps New€Odyssey T1451 - Tiffany 16" Geranium - Stained Glass Lamp Mold.Glassmasters Stained Glass-feeding The Flamingos Retired PieceAntique American Stained Glass Window,art & Crafts,bungalow,circa 1918Franklin Mint The Coca-cola Stained Glass Victorian Hotel Brand NewVintage Antique Victorian 32" X 79 Stained Glass Entryway DoorTiffany-style 27" Halston Stained Glass Lit Pedestal Lamp Turquoise New16" X 20" Tiffany Style Stained Glass Window Panel Water Lily Dragonfly LotusJoan Rivers Vintage Plaque-a-jour Stained Glass Orchid Signed Pin Brooch JewelryGlassmasters Stained Glass Suncatcher -tiffany LandscapeOld English Leaded Stained Glass Window Flower Design 24.25" X 14.25"Vintagetiffany Style,etched Medallion Design,stained Glass Panel W/ ChainStained Glass Old Sailing ShipBeautiful Church Stained Glass Window ~ Please Note: Pick Up Only ~ No Shipping Vintage Or Antique? Stained Glass Window Panel Signed By The Artist LeadedOld English Leaded Stained Glass Window Diamond Design 21.25" X 16.75"Joan Rivers Stained Glass Butterfly Brooch Pin Signed Vintage JewelryVintage Atomic Glass Triangle Coffee Pot Stained Glass Tripod Stand Mid Century2 Tiffany Style Stained Glass Window Panels "pink Peony" 18-3/8" X 10.25" Stained Glass Light Fixture- Used But Excellent Condition!Limited Edition Frida Kahlo Forever21 Stained Glass Sweatshirt M Nwt Sold Out!Beautiful Leaded Stained Glass Tiffany Light For Pool Table. Not Plastic.Stained Glass Light Shade Globes Set 3 Tiffany Style Lamp Fan SconceLouis Co Tiffany Stained Glass WindowVintage Schering Rx Stained Glass Pharmacy Fraternity Advertising Sign - WindowCase Of 10 Stained Cut Glass Window Panel 13.5" X 9.5" Tiffany Style Msrp$220.00Vintage Reproduction Victorian Influence Multi-colored Stained Glass Window21x35 Tiffany Style Stained Glass Window Panel Green & Clear Beveled Sold As Is*Glassmasters Stained Glass Suncatcher - Notre Dame Rose Window

Recent News: Stained Glass

Source: Google News

Cracking 'stained-glass ceiling,' women reach prominent pulpits
Mennonite World Review, September 15th

Chicago. New York. Washington. In quick succession this year, three women have been chosen to lead historic tall-steeple churches in these cities. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, new pastor at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., gives the ...Read more

Stained-glass Mini is a real pane to drive
Metro, September 14th

It has a bed so tired travellers can take a nap – but nodding off under all that glass might prove a struggle. A driverless car made of stained-glass windows has been built for an exhibition looking at the future of mobility. Designer Dominic Wilcox...Read more

La Farge Stained Glass Windows
The Patriot Ledger (blog), September 12th

La Farge Stained Glass - The Old Philosopher Join us on Sunday, September 14 at 2:00 p.m. for a presentation on the famed John La Farge stained glass windows installed in the Richardson building at the Main Library. Author Matthew P. Bowman will share ...Read more

Historic home tour benefits stained glass rehab
Corvallis Gazette Times, September 12th

With the late morning sun back-lighting them, the stained glass windows in the sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church look as resplendent as they did when master glassmakers David and John Povey installed them in 1910. “They used warm colors because ...Read more

Historic home tour Saturday benefits stained glass rehab
Corvallis Gazette Times, September 12th

With the late morning sun back-lighting them, the stained glass windows in the sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church look as resplendent as they did when master glassmakers David and John Povey installed them in 1910. “They used warm colors because ...Read more

Senior uses stained glass to give back
WXIA-TV, September 11th

Norbert Braza, of Dunwoody, is 83. He spent his profession convincing companies to try a then-unheard technology: computers. "They were big, slow -- they were bigger than this room," Braza said. After peering into the future, Norbert used his...Read more

Stained glass artists create 9/11 memorial for Fort Meade
Baltimore Sun, September 11th

Personnel and guests at Fort Meade gathered Thursday, on the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil, to remember the nearly 3,000 lives lost that day — and pay tribute to 411 fallen first responders with the unveiling of a...Read more

Capitol stained glass gets cleaned up
Sioux Falls Argus Leader, September 10th

PIERRE – More of South Dakota's stained glass windows are returning to the Capitol this week. Crews began re-installing the glass Tuesday as part of a $2.7 million project that began last summer. The stained glass in the dome, the barrel vault above...Read more