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French stained glass 1510–1540

A Scene from the Life of Peter, stained glass panel, about 1525-30. Museum no. 2207-1855

A Scene from the Life of Peter, stained glass panel, about 1525-30. Museum no. 2207-1855. During his lifetime Christ named Peter as the leader of the Apostles and therefore the foundation stone (Latin 'petra') of the Church. In this scene the Resurrected Christ appears to Peter before the rest of the Apostles, affirming Peter's leading position.

These three panels are from a large narrative window dedicated to the story of the Life of St Peter, originally from a church in Rouen in Normandy. The style of these windows has been associated with the workshops run by the followers of Arnoult de Nimègue (Arnold of Nijmegen), a Flemish artist working in France.

The forms of the figures are very similar to those in another window in Rouen, which suggests that the same cartoons were used for both windows. Cartoons are full-size drawings of the design, used by the glaziers when they cut the pieces of glass to the right shape.

Earlier in the Middle Ages, cartoons were drawn through chalk spread over a wooden board. Only one of these boards has survived as they would have been wiped clean and reused by the craftsmen on other projects. By the time these panels were made in the early 16th century, paper or parchment cartoons would have been used. They are easier to store and can be reused for other projects.

A Scene from the Life of Peter, stained glass panel, about 1525-30. Museum no. 2208-1855

A Scene from the Life of Peter, stained glass panel, about 1525-30. Museum no. 2208-1855. During his lifetime Christ named Peter as the leader of the Apostles and therefore the foundation stone (Latin 'petra') of the Church. In this scene the Resurrected Christ appears to Peter before the rest of the Apostles, affirming Peter's leading position.

A Scene from the Life of Peter, stained glass panel, about 1525-30. Museum no. 2209-1855

A Scene from the Life of Peter, stained glass panel, about 1525-30. Museum no. 2209-1855. Peter travelled to Rome on at least two occasions to spread the word of Christ. We know that he was executed there, probably during the period of persecution under the emperor Nero (reigned AD 64-8). The earliest known account describing his death dates from the end of the 2nd century. Here Peter is shown being crucified upside down on a cross. Crucifixion was a common form of execution for non-Roman citizens, and tradition states that Peter refused to be crucified in the same manner as Christ.

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