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image SG80

Saint John the Baptist, stained glass panel, Cologne, German?, c.1500-1530

Clear glass with brown paint, yellow stain

Height: 235mm
Width: 171mm

Museum number: SG80

Curatorial note

The slender Gothic figure of St John the Baptist poses on a pedestal decorated with stylised interlacing Gothic tracery. Wearing a skin with the animal’s head hanging down in front, he holds a bannered cross and the lamb of God resting on a book. His halo is represented by three sets of radiating spikes and his right hand is raised in blessing. The background is occupied by a landscape with bare trees, bushes and the Gothic towers of a townscape. The scene is surrounded by a canopy with hanging tracery, very similar to Saint Margaret, SG79, and is framed in the same illusionistic manner.

Popham dated this panel as 1530?, finding it rather provincial in style, possibly Dutch. Cole considered a panel of St Adrian in a similar style (in a Private Collection) to be German of about 1515. Becksmann’s view of this panel is similar to that for the companion panel of St Margaret. However, the rather rough-grained stippling within firm trace-lines and the round full-pupilled eyes are generally indications of Cologne as a source. The hanging tracery motif, which was developed in the Netherlands, was taken up in North Germany. The figure on its pedestal is also reminiscent of the style of a series of saints by the German engraver Israhel van Meckenem (died 1503). Similar representations of the halo can be found in engravings by Schaüffelein at about the same date. The form of the thin bare trees in the landscape can be seen in another German panel in the Soane collection, SG5, The Nativity.

Literature

A. E. Popham’s comments are MS notes in pencil held at Sir John Soane’s Museum, c.1930.
F. W. H. Hollstein, German Engravings Etchings and Woodcuts 1400-1700. Amsterdam: Riijksmuseum, 1954– XlIII, 786, 798, XXIV, XXIVA 360
Hilary Wayment, King's College Chapel Cambridge, The Side-chapel Glass. Cambridge: Cambridge Antiquarian Society and King’s College, 1988 51g
William Cole, A Catalogue of Netherlandish and North European Roundels in Britain. Oxford: OUP for The British Academy, 1993 1725
Professor Dr. Rudiger Becksmann, Personal communication, 2003
Catalogue of the Stained Glass in Sir John Soane's Museum, Special Issue of the Journal of Stained Glass 2004, p. 213


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