Stained Glass - Art at the Glass Surface
Cambridge - Monday 4th and
Tuesday 5th September 2017


article posted 18 May 2017

Sophie Wolf studied geology and mineralogy. During her PhD and subsequent research she specialized in archaeological sciences. She was a research fellow with the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford, U.K., and worked as lecturer and a researcher with Fribourg University, the Swiss Gemmological Institute, Basel and the ETH Zurich. Since 2011, she has been with Vitrocentre Romont. Her main research interests are the history, production technology and conservation of stained glass, glass and ceramics.

Stefan Trümpler received the Ph.D. degree in art history, classical archaeology and history of architecture from the University of Berne, Switzerland, in 1986. In 1988, he became the Director of Vitrocentre Romont, Swiss Research Centre for Stained Glass and Glass Art. In 1991, he was also appointed as a Chief Curator and the Director of Vitromuseée Romont, Swiss Museum for Stained Glass and Glass Art. Stefan Truümpler specialised in the history, technology and conservation of stained glass. His research focuses on the technology of stained glass and its interrelation with artistic concepts and the perception of these works of art. His recent research study of preparative designs and cold paint on late medieval and post medieval stained glass and the preventive conservation of historical stained glass. He is also interested in the museology of glass art.

Cold paint on medieval stained glass: The choir windows of Berne Minster
Stefan Trümpler & Sophie Wolf*

Vitrocentre Romont, 1680 Romont Switzerland

That cold paints were used on medieval and post-medieval stained glass now seems to be an accepted fact. Findings made over the last few decades have provided convincing evidence for their use.1 The unfired paint was applied in addition to traditional glass paints in order to enrich the palette of the stained glass artists. The published research suggests that cold paint was primarily used on small-scale or single-panel stained glass windows, and that green was the colour most frequently applied in the “cold technique”. More recent observations, however, suggest that the use of additional unfired paint in monumental stained glass was no exception and that the colours used included yellow, green, red and possibly also brown.2 In our paper we would like to present the results of a recent study of the choir windows of Berne Minster (1441–55). Based on a detailed inventory of the cold paint we would like to
- present what may be one of the first large-scale observations and analysis of the use of unfired paint,
- show the range of colours applied and the extent to which glass painters have used cold paints in those windows, in particular the use of yellow cold paint in lieu of silver stain and yellow glass,
- provide first results on the pigments and binders of the cold paints,
- present hypotheses on the reasons for, and artistic intentions behind, the use of different painting techniques.

1 See for example, Chantal Fontaine, Marina Van Bos, Helena Wouters, Contribution à l’étude des peintures à froid sur les vitraux anciens. Fonction et identification, in: Grisaille, jaune d’argent, sanguine, émail et peinture à froid, Forum pour la conservation et la restauration des vitraux, Liége 19–22 Juin 1996, Dossier de la Commission Royale des Monuments, Sites et Fouilles 3, 93–102.

2 Annika Dix, Martha Hör, Christoph Stooss, Stefan Trümpler, Sophie Wolf, „nach dem bernen vff dass glas gestrichen“. Zu Kaltfarben auf Glasmalereien, in: Simone Bretz, Carola Hagnau, Oliver Hahn, Hans­Jörg Ranz (ed.), Hinterglasmalerei vom Mittelalter bis zur Renaissance, Munich 2016, 80–87.