Explore Collections Explore The Collections
You are here: CollectionsOnline  /  The descent of the Holy Spirit, with Saints Gerard and Sophia, stained glass panel, after Jan Stradanus, said to have come from a church in Cologne, German, dated 1692 in the cartouche
top left corner
top right corner
bottom left corner
bottom right corner
image SG37

The descent of the Holy Spirit, with Saints Gerard and Sophia, stained glass panel, after Jan Stradanus, said to have come from a church in Cologne, German, dated 1692 in the cartouche

Clear glass with black and brown paint, yellow stain, red and blue enamels. The whole has a yellow-stain rim, as has the centre pane

Height: 685mm, approximate
Width: 590mm, approximate

Museum number: SG37

Curatorial note

The window consists of nine panels. The central panel depicts the Pentecost, an assembly of seated male and female saints and the Virgin Mary, each with a red flame at the brow. In the foreground kneel four apostles and, above, the Dove of the Holy Spirit descends in radiance surrounded by seven cherubs in clouds. St Peter is identified by the keys at his belt. An open book lies on the tiled floor.

The image is after Jan Stradanus in an engraving by Phillip Galle, published by Joannes Galle in 1582, Plate 2 from a set of 35 plates of ‘The Acts of the Apostles’. Also published with slight alterations in the Theatrum Biblicum of 1674. The glass-painter has shown the Virgin Mary seated, instead of kneeling as in the print, and includes an additional female figure, but all others are as shown in the print. The rather loose line-drawing of the figures is similar to that in four panels from the Rhineland dated 1709 in the Hessisches Landesmuseum, Darmstadt.

The central panel is framed on the left by the figure of a bearded bishop Saint, inscribed S. Geradüs on the pedestal, holding his pastoral staff and a lance, crossed in his right hand. He wears red gloves, appropriate for a cardinal archbishop, but this might also be a pun on the donor's name, Gerardüs Roth. St Gerard is the patron saint of Cologne, but the lance carried in this representation usually refers to the martyrdom of St Gerard of Csanad (possibly a confusion).

Opposite and to the right stands a female Saint bearing a lily, inscribed S. Sopfia on the base, and before her kneel three women each bearing a sword, the Three Virgin Martyrs. The German pietist Jakob Boehme, c.1600, describes Sophia as ‘the feminine, the Holy Ghost, a goddess and a bride to the wise man.’ Below is a cartouche inscribed in German script: Herr Gerardus Koch, Kauffhandler disser Freije(r?) Reichs Staatt Collen unde Fraw Sopfia Tillis Seine Hausfraw Ao 1692, Mr Gerard Koch, Merchant of this Free Imperial City of Cologne and his wife Sophia Tillis Anno 1692, indicating that this is a memorial panel to an official and his wife with their respective name saints. (Transcription and translation provided by Paul Sharpling).

The cartouche is decorated with a female head on each side and a beribboned posy of flowers and fruits at either end. Above, within draped curtains, a winged angel playing a lyre sits atop a cartouche supported by two winged angels. This cartouche contains a red heart below a cross on a green field and the initials (I) N (R) S – the left section is a blank stop-gap.

The typically Dutch style of glass painting used for the supporting angels and supporters of the cartouche was common in North Germany at this time. Another example, dated 1699, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


Bernard Rackham, A Guide to the Collections of Stained Glass, Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Department of Ceramics, 1936
Suzanne Beeh-Lustenberger, Glasmalerei um 800-1900 im Hessischen Landesmuseum in Darmstadt. Frankfurt: Hans Peters Verlag, 1973 Inv. KG 39:9 a-d
Quispel, Encyclopaedia of Religion, Vol. 13 (New York: Macmillan, 1987) 417
The New Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts ca.1450-1700. Rotterdam, Sound and Vision Publishers, 1993- Philips Galle Pt. II, 189/1
New Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vol. 6 (Washington, DC: Thomson Gale, 2003) 161-162
Catalogue of the Stained Glass in Sir John Soane's Museum, Special Issue of the Journal of Stained Glass 2004, pp 176-177

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