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Stained Glass Windows - Summary

Throughout history, stories have come alive through stained glass windows. Originally made by fusing sand and ashes, artists cut the colored glass and piece it into scenes much like working a puzzle. Stained glass windows create a mystical environment in churches, but they also have another purpose. Since most of the public can not read or afford manuscripts, these colorful windows educate the masses by depicting stories of the Bible and the lives of saints. These story-telling windows survive in spite of wars and bad weather to document stories and events.

A 12th century monk named Theophilus documents the process of medieval glass making. He identifies the type of wood needed for the ashes, the kinds of pots used to house the ash-sand mixture, and how the process takes place. He shares how to create the glass and how to assemble the stained glass windows. At the time of his writing, stained glass windows are becoming popular. Theophilus writes of using beechwood to produce a range of colors including white, yellow, red, and purple. Glassmakers later expand their color scheme by using old glass fragments to achieve blues and greens. 

France has many excellent examples of stained glass artistry. Notre Dame Cathedral holds 176 stained glass windows that cover over 26,000 feet of space. The United Kingdom (UK) also has many cathedrals where beautiful stained glass windows tell their stories. Italy hosts many famous churches with stunning stained glass works. Many of Italy’s pieces are round in shape, because they are created to fit into domed ceilings. Next on the virtual tour are the countries of Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg, where many medieval churches still display stained glass treasures. The Netherlands dominates world trade during the 17th century. As a result, many fine examples of stained glass artistry are found in this area. 

Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, not only features many medieval stained glass treasures, but also the modern works of the famous glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. Best known for his Tiffany lamps, he creates windows for homes, universities, and churches. His glasswork is unique in that it uses varied and vibrant colors, and depicts more modern themes. Many of his pieces feature nature, rather than the medieval focus of people from literature. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City owns many of Tiffany’s most famous works.

Stained glass has fascinated people throughout history. From religious stories depicted in glass to historical documentation, events have been recorded in these windows. From medieval times to current day, the artistry captured in these stained glass treasures continues to fascinate the public. Although we have no records of many of the artists, we do know how the glass windows were created. These works have survived the elements of time to remain one of the most beautiful examples of artistic skill. 

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 01, 2008

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016


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"Stained Glass Windows" AwesomeStories.com. Nov 01, 2008. Oct 18, 2017.
       <https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Stained-Glass-Windows/Summary>.
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