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  • image SG1

Birth of the Virgin, stained glass roundel, Netherlandish or German, 17th century

Clear glass with brown and black paints, yellow stain, red-brown and deep blue enamels and purple, probably a combination of blue over red enamels

Diameter: 138mm, approximate

Museum number: SG1

Curatorial note

The setting is a simple room. St Anne lies in bed and her husband, Joachim, is seated at her side in a purple robe, holding her hand. She is attended by two maids, one with a candle. In the immediate foreground the infant Mary is being lifted from a bath by a woman in a blue and red robe, while similarly dressed midwives bring swaddling clothes and a servant holding a candle kneels before the Virgin. A chair is placed to the left, and jugs and bowls stand around. The darkened windows show it is night, an unusual representation in glass painting.

The scene is quite freely drawn and techniques involving a combination of scratching from a matt and painted trace lines have been used to give shadings and a sense of volume. The scene shares a number of features with panels depicting the Birth of John the Baptist, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and in the Historisches Museum, Frankfurt, in which the technique and details of the furnishings and setting, including the turned chair in the foreground, are identical. In these examples, Joachim is replaced by John’s father Zacharias and is shown seated at a desk writing out John’s name. The representation of all these birth scenes is influenced by The Birth of the Virgin by Andrea del Sarto in the Church of SS. Annunziata, Florence.


Bernard Rackham, A Guide to the Collections of Stained Glass, Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Department of Ceramics, 1936, C288-1934
Suzanne Beeh-Lustenberger, Glasgemälde aus Frankfurter, Sammlungen. Frankfurt: Verlag Waldemar Kramer, 1965, Inv. X 13444
Catalogue of the Stained Glass in Sir John Soane's Museum, Special Issue of the Journal of Stained Glass 2004, p. 134

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk