Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Stained Glass Art

f you're a churchgoing person, then you're more than familiar with stained glass windows. These pieces make up a huge percentage of religious artwork, and depict scenes from the Bible and important religious figures. They were the photographs of their time: a historical record of important events for all to see, which was important as most of the population was illiterate. The history of stained and colored glass artwork is long and interesting, dating back to the beginnings of the last millennium.
Alas, the first of these windows is lost to history, and their origins can only be debated. Mosaics and jewelry makers are credited with developing the technique that created colored glass art as we know it, which arose during an increase in church construction. However, colored glass had been produced since the days of the Egyptian and Roman empires, both of which surpassed others when it came to manufacturing small, stained glass objects.

Churches caught onto the beauty of this art in the 4th and 5th centuries during the rise of church building, and many windows from this time period remain. British churches and monasteries began to adopt stained glass windows as part of their decor in the 7th century, when French workmen began to glaze the windows of monasteries.
Stained glass reached its acme in the Middle Ages. It served a two-fold purpose: 1. It was beautiful to look at and 2. Since most citizens couldn't read the Bible, the window art served as a television of sorts by illustrating the events to the illiterate. The pieces from this era have become known as the "Poor Man's Bible." This trend continued into the Gothic Era, when architectural design forced windows to grow larger, giving artists more of a canvas to work on.

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