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Gothic Stained Glass

The character of the ornament on stained glass appears to follow much more closely that of the illuminated MSS. than it does the sculptured ornament of the monuments of other Gothic patterns of the period, and, like the ornament of the illuminated MSS., it appears to us to be always in advance of structural ornament. For instance, the stained glass of the twelfth century possesses the same breadth of effect, Portions of Illuminated MSS. of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries
Portions of Illuminated MSS.
of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries,
Plate LXXI.
and is constructed in the same way, as the sculptured ornament of the thirteenth, whilst the stained glass of the thirteenth century is, according to our view, already in a state of decline. The same change has taken place which we have already observed on comparing No. 13 with No. 12, Plate LXXI.

The constant repetition of the same forms has gradually led to an over-elaboration of detail, from which the general effect considerably suffers. The ornaments are out of scale with the general masses. Now as it is one of the most beautiful features of the Early English style, that the ornament is in such perfect relation in point of scale and effect to the members which it decorates, this seems a very curious fact, if fact it is. On Plates LXIX. and LXIX*. all the ornaments from Nos. 12 to 28 are of the twelfth century. Nos. 3 and 7 are of the thirteenth. Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, are of the fourteenth, and we think a mere glance at the general effect of the plates will establish what we have here advanced.

Stained Glass of various periods
Stained Glass of various periods, Plate LXIX.

In the stained glass of the twelfth century we shall always find all the principles which we have shown to belong to a true style of art. We need only call attention here to the very ingenious way in which the straight, the inclined, and the curved, are balanced and contrasted in all the diapers.

Stained Glass of various periods
Stained Glass of various periods, Plate LXIX*.

In Nos. 2 and 4 we have an example of a very common principle, which is thoroughly Eastern in character, viz. a continuous ground pattern forms a tint interlacing with a more general surface pattern.

In Nos. 1, 5, 6, 8, of the fourteenth century we see the commencement of the direct natural style, which ended in the total neglect of the true principles of stained glass, when both ornaments and figures through which life was to be transmitted, in the attempt to render them over-true, had their own shades and shadows.









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