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Wednesday Art: Augsburg Stained Glass Window

Last Updated 21 February 2021

Stained glass window with the prophet David, Augsburg cathedral (Wikipedia)

During my research for the Viking Age Tapestries series years ago, I learned some interesting details about the exchange of ideas in artwork from the Viking Age. In terms of artwork there are similarities to the designs of the later tapestries and that of the first stained glass windows. So, I set out to discover the oldest stained glass window of the Viking Age.

The winner is the Augsburg cathedral in Germany. A church probably stood on this city by the ninth century. The building collapsed that same century and its restoration was completed by 1065. The windows either date to 1065, or were placed in the twelfth century or later. Whichever the case, they are the oldest medieval stained glass windows still in their original position.

That is not to say there weren’t stained glass windows around earlier than 1065. Pieces of coloured glass dating to 800-822 were found at the abbey of San Vincenzo in Volturno, Italy. There are also existing pieces at Lorsch abbey, Germany from the ninth century. And with thanks to Bede, without actual evidence, we know the Anglo-Saxons also produced stained glass as Benedict Biscop even went to France to find glaziers.

More on the cathedral windows on the bishopric of Augsburg website.
More on Viking Age stained glass windows. See Vidimus and Teaching History 100.
More on the cathedral, see The Murals of Augsburg Cathedral.

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