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image SG67

Scene from the life of Saint Teresa: the Holy Spirit descends, stained glass panel, after Adriaen Collaert, Netherlandish, 17th century

Clear glass with brown paint

Height: 260mm
Width: 199mm

Museum number: SG67

Curatorial note

Teresa sits at a table, writing with a quill in an open book on a bookrest. Other objects on the table include books, a crucifix, an hourglass and an inkwell. The Holy Spirit, represented as a dove, flies from behind her in radiance and informs her writings. The room is simply furnished with a stool and an armchair and has a lattice window.

The panel is based on an engraving by Adriaen Collaert, printed by Joannes Galle in 1630, in the series Vita St Virginis Teresiae…, Plate 23. The text follows that of the engraving in its entirety: Diuinae lucis radijs repentè obumbrata, å Spiritu Sancto in/fuså coelitus scientia mentem imbuitur: libros quinque caelesti/ eruditione faecundos conscribit, qui Vario idiomate Hispano,/ Gallo, Italo, Polono, et alijs cicumferentur. In the print a speech ribbon descending to the Saint is inscribed Spiritu intelligentiae repleuit illam but this has been omitted in the glass painting. The glass painter has extended the design upwards into the arched top of the panel by adding to the radiant cloud. The floor tiles have been given additional embellishment. This is one of a set which includes SG61, SG63, SG65, SG67, SG68, SG86, and SG110. SG91 illustrates another scene from the series but uses a different format.

The octagonal lantern in the Breakfast Room retains seven of its original eight glazing panels with subjects set within colour glass borders. Five of these depict scenes from the life of St Teresa of Avila, the other two illustrate biblical subjects from the lives of Joseph and his brother Benjamin. Soane, in his 1830, 1832 and 1835 editions of the Description says In the Dome is an octangular [sic] Lantern with eight scriptural subjects, surmounted by a bell-light.

Teresa of Avila was born in 1515, died in 1582, and was canonised in 1622. She experienced many visions, some ecstatic and heavenly, others with devilish temptations, and she frequently heard voices. The most famous vision of the Saint was the piercing of her heart, or transverberation, by an arrow held by an angel, a scene immortalised by Bernini as St Teresa in Ecstasy in the Cornaro Chapel, Rome. Her story was well documented in her lifetime and there are extant portraits of her from life. The stained glass panels are copied from a series of prints by Adrien Collaert, based closely on her life and documented appearance, which were published in 1630. One of these, SG63, shows her levitation during the celebration of Mass which, despite causing her some embarrassment, did not prevent the bishop bringing his friends to witness the event. In this scene, SG67, she is shown writing while the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove speaks into her ear.


The complete series of 24 plates in the Witt Print Collection, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London, is dated 1630 on the title page. Hollstein IV, Adriaen Collaert, 230-248, lists nineteen plates and a frontispiece dated 1613
Catalogue of the Stained Glass in Sir John Soane's Museum, Special Issue of the Journal of Stained Glass 2004, p. 194

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