Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Church of St. Germain and St. Vincent, St. Germain-les-Corbeil, Ile-de-France

     South of Paris is the department of Essonne and the town of Saint-Germain-les-Corbeil.  It is probably better known for its golf and proximity to Disneyland Paris than its small Romanesque transitioning to Gothic parish church, Eglise de Saint-Germain et Saint-Vincent.  Saint-Germain was the 6th century bishop of Paris and Saint-Vincent, an early 4th century Spanish martyr.  The church has three 13th century lancet windows, one of which is a Jesse Tree.  The windows are dated to about 1225.  They were restored in the 19th century. 

The Church of St. Germain and St. Vincent in Saint-Germain les Corbeil

Church of St. Germain and St. Vincent, Saint-Germain les Corbeil.  Window #1, Jesse tree window
Photo credit for the stained glass: Painton Cowen

Jesus Christ seated and holding an orb with cross.  On the left is the patriarch Isaac and on the right in the King of Judah, Manasses.  The names on the banderoles appear to be from the 19th restoration of the glass.

Crowned Blessed Virgin Mary seated in the center with Osea or Hosea to her right and the patriarch Aaron to her left.

Generic king of Judah. Given the position in window, second king above Jesse, this should be King Solomon. On the viewers' left is Rehoboam, King of Judah and on the right is the patriarch Abraham

Generic king of Judah, and first king above Jesse.  Thus this is King David.  On the viewers' left is Joshua and on the right is Moses the "prophet."

Reclining Jesse with the prophet Daniel on the left and patriarch Jacob on the right.  The Jesse figure appears to be mostly a 19th century replacement.
     The top of the lancet window has seven doves in restored glass. Jesus Christ is holding a globe or orb with the sign of the cross incised on it.  This is meant to symbolize Christ's dominion over the world though it is different from the globus cruciger.   Below Jesus is Virgin Mary. Then there are two generic kings of Judah holding on to the Jesse vine in seated frontal poses.  They are identified as Solomon and David because of their respective positions and not because on any identifying element in the design. Jesse is reclining in the bottom panel.  There are ten persons flanking the central figures including kings, patriarchs, and prophets.

      Unfortunately the window has suffered significant corrosion and much of the detail of the window has been lost.  Corrosion or rusting of the glass is due to the fact that water and oxygen in air come in contact with glass made with wood ash as the source for potassium oxide.  Potash or potassium oxide is needed to lower the melting point of silica so glass can be made in medieval furnaces. In addition to the potassium oxide, the glass contains metals from the beechwood, the most popular source for potash.  Further, metals were added to the glass to make the various colors. Hence the name "pot metal glass" that is applied to much of the stained glass that was made. So when water and oxygen come in contact with the glass the metals rust and the glass deteriorates.

       The window has much more red glass in it that the previous windows discussed.  I do not know if the  red glass is flashed or not.  Red glass was often so dark and opaque that light will not transmitted through the glass.  So red glass was often made by applying a thin layer of red glass on to clear glass to allow light to pass through the window.  This points to the local experimentation with different methods of glass making and variations in design of the Jesse Tree window.

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