Stained glass is a creative, colourful art form that has truly stood the test of time. No longer restricted to the splendor of cathedrals and churches, panels once removed from houses and commercial buildings are now being replaced to represent their former glory.
In order to study the fascinating history of stained glass, a good place to begin is the Roman period in the first Century AD. Remains of stained glass were found in the historical sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii, representing a domestic luxury for wealthy Romans in their villas and palaces. During this period in time, stained glass could be found presented proudly in structures across Europe, though at this point was considered more a representation of wealth as opposed to an artistic form.
Towards the ninth and tenth Century is where the form’s affinity with churches truly began. Stained glass became a way for churches to represent their grandeur in a way the whole congregation and community could enjoy. However, soon there became a problem. The windows were small and needed to admit enough light to adequately illuminate the room. For this reason, many windows of this ages consisted predominantly with red and blue glass, surrounded by white glass. These colours can be found in abundance in stained glass throughout its history, and continue to be some of the most popular colours today. The earliest surviving example of pictorial stained glass is a Head of Christ from the tenth century excavated from Lorsch Abbey in Germany.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the age in which stained glass truly became an art form was the gothic period, and elements are still reflected in both architecture and modern stained glass today. As impeding and towering gothic buildings were brought from imagination into reality, the size of windows increased dramatically. This allowed for more complex, creative and extravagant stained glass windows. Whole stories could be illustrated on a single window, resulting in the sacred figures and biblical references so often seen remaining in churches today.
In the Twentieth Century, stained glass became an experimental form, with the Art Nouveau period, abstract, expressionist and realism art trends all playing a part in reforming the stained glass window. The Victorian period brought stained glass into the home, and it is in this era of home that most stained glass can be found today.
Today, the trend is within the colour and striking shapes, the bolder the better. Pieces reflective of sea, sky, wildlife reflect our fascination with and great respect for nature. Today, artwork is no longer restricted to a hanging on the wall. And it appears that no location is too obscure, the company having worked on pieces for gardens, rooftop domes, kitchen cupboards, lamps. AP Stained Glass uses traditional techniques to create thoroughly modern pieces as well as restoring old windows to their former glory. With a range of mediums and styles, as well as being able to have an input into your own artwork, there is not a more personal art form available, with the added bonus of being steeped in history.