Tag Archives: stained glass

Judith monopolizes the bath

Margaret Agnes Rope (1882-1953) was a stained glass artist in the Arts and Crafts movement tradition of first four decades of the 20th century. She trained at the Birmingham Municipal School of Art until 1909 and then worked from home on the large west window of Shrewsbury Cathedral, the first of seven she did there. In 1923, she became a Carmelite nun, Sister Margaret of the Mother of God, and continued to execute stain glass. She is credited with about 60 windows, typified by strong colors, jewelled intensity and consummate glass painting skills. 

Wait … make that 61 windows …

Window in Shropshire home’s bathroom identified as valuable artwork

Judith in the bathroom

After Rosalind Garrard bought a house in Church Stretton in south Shropshire a short time ago, she decided to refurbish the bathroom, and the stained-glass panel (see pic below) that was in the window-frame was extracted.  Curious to see what would happen, she then placed the piece on the internet sales site, eBay, where, by pure chance, it was recognised by an art-history researcher.  The researcher identified it a student work by Margaret Agnes Rope.

When Ms Garrard told her story to the BBC, she admitted she was baffled as to how it came to be in her bathroom: “The previous owner could not tell me why it was there, and I can only presume it has been there in situ since it was made. Experts tell me that it is a student exercise, and was probably completed around 1908.  I understand that what I had placed on eBay for a nominal sum turns out to be a very valuable piece indeed!”

Margaret Agnes Rope (1882-1953), “Judith,” 1908, stained glass, Shrewsbury Museum, Shrewsbury, ENG

Judith arrives in town

Judith & Holofernes is probably the first full-scale stained-glass piece done by Margaret; it is life-size, dating possibly to 1908. Though created as a student piece, she would have been around 25 when she made it, and it bears the influence of her teacher, the great Henry Payne.

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Posted by on July 3, 2020 in No category


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Judith takes a second look

Unknown, “Judith and Holofernes,” 16th century, stained glass rondel, Saint-Martin Parish Church, Triel-sur-Seine, France

Unknown, “Judith at the banquet of Holofernes,” c.1510-30, stained glass rondel, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, Germany

Unknown, “Judith,” 17th century, stained glass, Yarnton, St Bartholomew Parish Church, Oxfordshire, England, UK

Judith:    Amazing!   After all that blood on the pillow, I managed to get it in the bag without dripping on the floor.   although …

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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Glory


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Judith gets the boot

Adolf Herres and Joseph Fries, “Judith,” 1934-36, stained glass, Church of Maria Martental, Trier, Germany

Judith is one of six windows in the pilgrimage chapel dedicated to Mary and added in 1934:  Esther, Ruth, Sara, Rebekka, Rachel and Judith – all Old Testament women who are the progenitors of Mary’s divine status.

So explain to me again:  why did Judith get booted from the Bible?  She seems to be keeping good company here.


Posted by on August 1, 2012 in Glory


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Judith: les Fenêtres

Throughout this blog, I have commented on various stained glass windows that depict Judith.   But I recently came across a treasure trove of windows in French churches and cathedrals  (Well, one is in Belgium but they speak French, don’t they?).   So here they are en masse.

“Judith,” 16th century, stained glass, Church of St Martin, Triel-sur-Seine, France

I always enjoy seeing Judith on a throne.  Seems so natural and appropriate for a girl like me.

“Judith”, stained glass, Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame, Dinant, Belgium

I love the stars, the rose and the giant cabbage – but someone needs to hand Judith a napkin to wipe her chin.  She looks slightly cannibalistic with that suspicious stain.

“Judith,” stained glass, Our Lady of the Assumption, Bagnères-de-Luchon, France

This pose suggests “Judith the Hitchhiker” – as in “Hey, I just decapitated a guy so get me the hell outa here.”

“Judith,” stained glass, Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul de Troyes, Troyes, France

This window I like in particular.   The headgear, the hidden head, the sassy hand-on-hip, the smirky smile.  That’s attitude.   Oh wait … that’s the maid.  At least Judith gets a crown.

Jonathan Manasseh, “Judith,” stained glass, Church of Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, Paris, France

And this gets my attention because it shows Judith supported by three men.  Seems about right to me in the hierarchy of things.

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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Glory


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Judith constructed

Bavarian Art Institute of Munich, “Judith,” 1886-91, stained glass, Church of the Immaculate Conception, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Terre Haute, Indiana, USA

In the neighborhood of Terre Haute, Indiana, is a large cathedral-like structure in the Italian Renaissance style that serves as the house of worship for the Sisters of Providence. set within the native limestone are stained glass windows – including the depiction of Judith.

Although it is not mentioned, the composition of this window bears a striking resemblance to that of Cristofano Allori – who you may recall used the likeness of his mistress for the face of Judith.   But shhhh … don’t tell the nuns.   They might not like the comparison.

Cristofano Allori, “Judith with the head of Holofernes,” 1613, Oil on canvas, 120.4 x 100.3 cm, Royal Collection, Windsor, England, UK

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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Distracted


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Judith and the Vegetarian

This guy was either crazy or brilliant.   Or maybe both.

To start, the traditional early work of Giuseppe Arcimboldo.   Stained glass windows of the Duomo in Milan.

Giusppe Arcimbolodo, stained glass windows, 1596, Duomo, Milan, Italy

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, “Judith,” 1556, stained glass, Duomo, Milan, Italy




Nice but … I would like to have seen his mature style applied to the Judith story.   With fruits and vegetables.



Giuseppe Arcimbolodo, “Flora,” 1588, Oil on wood, 73 x 56 cm, private collection

Guiseppe Arcimboldo, “Vertumnus,” 1591, oil on wood, Skoklosters Slott, Balsta, Sweden

Sadly, Arcimboldo did not use this style to depict the story of Judith. It could have been juicy!! (yuk yuk)

However, he did create a plethora of portraits using botanicals, fruits and vegetables in fanciful and imaginative ways.  As one might expect, his work was not widely respected in the Late Renaissance.   It was not until the 20th Century that Arcimboldo was rediscovered by the Modernists and Surrealists, and his ideas were brought to the forefront.

In fact, the Goth Judith we saw yesterday looks very much like Flora.

And in case any readers are fascinated with animated films (or under the age of 12),  Arcimboldo’s imagery was used for “Boldo the Soup Genie” in the film, The Tale of Despereaux.

Bon appetite!

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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Cacciatore


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Judith, Glanna and Gloriana

Judith is obviously the leader of this group – dragging Holofernes’ head along the ground.

Harry Clarke, “Queens who cut the bogs of Glanna,/Judith of Scripture, and Gloriana.” 1917, Glass panels acided, stained and painted, 47.3 x 113 cm, auctioned by Christies 5/21/1997 (Lot 65)

This beautiful stained glass window was one of a set of nine commission by The Rt Hon Laurence Waldron PC to accompany the poem Queens by J.M. Synge.   The set was to be hung from left to right in the library windows of Waldron’s Killiney Bay house.   Panel was wax and acid-etched out of flashed ruby or gold-pink pot-metal glass in addition to being stained and painted.

These are no ordinary windows, because the subject matter is literary rather than religious.  This depiction of Judith is about her position as a heroine over tyranny of any kind, and places her next to Gloriana – the name given to Queen Elizabeth I in Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene  (although the Queen of Glanna is a mystery).   She is once again portrayed as bold and determined.   The brilliant reds heighten the emotion of this portrait but the delicate patterns of the gowns retains the romance.

If only Judith could find a way to keep her bodice from slipping down, she would not seem quite so … brazen.   I know, one of the other girls did it too but (sigh) she does not always have to follow the slutty one in the crowd.

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Queens, by J.M. Synge (1902)

Seven dog-days we let pass
Naming Queens in Glenmacnass,
All the rare and royal names
Wormy sheepskin yet retains,
Etain, Helen, Maeve, and Fand,
Golden Deirdre’s tender hand,
Bert, the big-foot, sung by Villon,
Cassandra, Ronsard found in Lyon.
Queens of Sheba, Meath and Connaught,
Coifed with crown, or gaudy bonnet,
Queens whose finger once did stir men,
Queens were eaten of fleas and vermin,
Queens men drew like Monna Lisa,
Or slew with drugs in Rome and Pisa,
We named Lucrezia Crivelli,
And Titian’s lady with amber belly,
Queens acquainted in learned sin,
Jane of Jewry’s slender shin:
Queens who cut the bogs of Glanna,
Judith of Scripture, and Gloriana,
Queens who wasted the East by proxy,
Or drove the ass-cart, a tinker’s doxy,
Yet these are rotten-I ask their pardon-
And we’ve the sun on rock and garden,
These are rotten, so you’re the Queen
Of all the living, or have been.

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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Story


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Judith has Culture

Dirk Crabeth,” Judith met het hoofd van Holofernes,” 1751, Glass panels acided, stained and painted, St. Janskerk, Gouda, Netherlands

Dirk Crabeth,” Judith met het hoofd van Holofernes (Detail),” 1751, Glass panels acided, stained and painted, St. Janskerk, Gouda, Netherland

These windows by Dirk Crabeth are in Sint Janskerk, a large Gothic church in Gouda, Netherlands.   This church is known especially for the stained glass windows, which earned it a spot on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites – places that have special cultural or physical significance as determined by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.   The church was built during the 15th and 16th centuries but the windows were installed in the Janskerk after a large part of the church burned in 1552.

I am feeling very proud of Judith about now.   She is hanging out with Jonah and John the Baptist and Jesus.  I suppose only adding Moses, George Washington and one of the Kardasian’s could make it any more special.


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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Glory


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Judith in Sainte-Chapelle

Doesn’t the title sound lovely? Like April in Paris or Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Ah, I would love to actually be in Sainte-Chapelle.  Or anywhere in the vicinity.

But back to reality and the windows of Sainte-Chapelle (no relation to Dave Chapelle – I don’t think?).   In Judeo-Christian culture, before books were widely available and common people were literate enough to read them, tales from the Bible were conveyed in sermons and in the artwork of cathedrals.  In the soaring glory of Sainte-Chapelle, the windows tell many Biblical stories.

Upper Chapel of Sainte-Chapelle (1248)

Exterior of Sainte-Chapelle (1248)

Located within the Palais de Justice complex on the Ile de la Cité in the center of Paris, Sainte-Chapelle was erected by King Louis IX to house relics of Christ from the Crusades – and to become a perfect example of the Rayonnant Style of Gothic architecture.  Rayonnant refers to the radiating stone spokes of the enormous rose windows of cathedrals and Rayonnant Style means the structure of church is basically a skeletal system to support expanses of traceried glass.

In the Upper Chapel between Ester and Jeremy is where you will find Judith and Job. Not sure why Judith and Job go together, but here they are – with 40 panels devoted to Judith, fifteen feet high.

Judith and Job in Sainte-Chapelle (1248)

The Story of Judith in Sainte-Chapelle (1248)

The Story of Judith in Sainte-Chapelle (1248)

Forty panels seems like a lot to me. I really didn’t think the story was that long. Makes me wonder if they embellished a bit – since it appears that embellishment was a central concept of cathedral building.

Which also makes me wonder: what would happen if they put all the good stained glass sections at the bottom where people could see them and then put the shoddy ones at the top, thinking “Who is going to climb 15 feet to verify that we put in the correct version of the story? Other than the window washers, who ever sees the stained glass at the top?”

There is one helpful aspect in the history of Sainte-Chapelle to address this question.  The cathedral suffered from fires in 1630 and 1777, a flood and exterior damage during the French Revolution.  During the First Empire in 1803, there was severe damage to the Upper Chapel when it was used as a warehouse and the stained glass windows were dismantled.  As a consequence, some of the stained glass rondels entered the art market and ended up in museums where they can be more closely studied than 15 feet away.

Holofernes crossing the Euphrates River (1248) Sainte-Chapelle

The Philadelphia Art Museum  (yo, Adrianne) is fortunate to have 3 rondels in its collection, all relating to Holofernes. The first rondel is a sophisticated asymmetrical composition with two conversing horsemen, one seen from the back, and a contrasting group of four mounted knights.  This depiction is appealing from a kindergarten POV because the horses are differing shades of pink, yellow and blue – plus the horse on the left is clearly showing his rear to the audience (cue for juvenile twittering).

Holofernes destroying orchards of Damascus (1248) Sainte-Chapelle

The second rondel depicts two soldiers hacking up an orchard of trees.  Not sure but I’m assuming apple trees because the fruit is red – but I don’t associate apples with Damascus so could be pomegranates?  Plums?  Dragon fruit?  But definitely not rhubarb.

Holofernes destroying vineyards of Damascus (1248) Sainte-Chapelle

The third rondel depicts three soldiers trashing the vineyards –  although I’m glad that was explained in the title.  I don’t think I could have figured it out on my own because I see zero grapes, the vines look like snakes, and these guys seem to be swinging those axes rather carelessly. Can’t imagine the destruction in the other 37 rondels if this is how they start out.


Locations: Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA

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Book of Judith, Chapter 6

1 AND when the tumult of men that were about the council was ceased, Holofernes the chief captain of the army of Assur said unto Achior and all the Moabites before all the company of other nations,
2 And who art thou, Achior, and the hirelings of Ephraim, that thou hast prophesied against us as to day, and hast said, that we should not make war with the people of Israel, because their God will defend them? and who is God but Nabuchodonosor?
3 He will send his power, and will destroy them from the face of the earth, and their God shall not deliver them: but we his servants will destroy them as one man; for they are not able to sustain the power of our horses.
4 For with them we will tread them under foot, and their mountains shall be drunken with their blood, and their fields shall be filled with their dead bodies, and their footsteps shall not be able to stand before us, for they shall utterly perish, saith king Nabuchodonosor, lord of all the earth: for he said, None of my words shall be in vain.
5 And thou, Achior, an hireling of Ammon, which hast spoken these words in the day of thine iniquity, shalt see my face no more from this day, until I take vengeance of this nation that came out of Egypt.
6 And then shall the sword of mine army, and the multitude of them that serve me, pass through thy sides, and thou shalt fall among their slain, when I return.
7 Now therefore my servants shall bring thee back into the hill country, and shall set thee in one of the cities of the passages:
8 And thou shalt not perish, till thou be destroyed with them.
9 And if thou persuade thyself in thy mind that they shall be taken, let not thy countenance fall: I have spoken it, and none of my words shall be in vain.
10 Then Holofernes commanded his servants, that waited in his tent, to take Achior, and bring him to Bethulia, and deliver him into the hands of the children of Israel.
11 So his servants took him, and brought him out of the camp into the plain, and they went from the midst of the plain into the hill country, and came unto the fountains that were under Bethulia.
12 And when the men of the city saw them, they took up their weapons, and went out of the city to the top of the hill: and every man that used a sling kept them from coming up by casting of stones against them.
13 Nevertheless having gotten privily under the hill, they bound Achior, and cast him down, and left him at the foot of the hill, and returned to their lord.
14 But the Israelites descended from their city, and came unto him, and loosed him, and brought him to Bethulia, and presented him to the governors of the city:
15 Which were in those days Ozias the son of Micha, of the tribe of Simeon, and Chabris the son of Gothoniel, and Charmis the son of Melchiel.
16 And they called together all the ancients of the city, and all their youth ran together, and their women, to the assembly, and they set Achior in the midst of all their people. Then Ozias asked him of that which was done.
17 And he answered and declared unto them the words of the council of Holofernes, and all the words that he had spoken in the midst of the princes of Assur, and whatsoever Holofernes had spoken proudly against the house of Israel.
18 Then the people fell down and worshipped God, and cried unto God. saying,
19 O Lord God of heaven, behold their pride, and pity the low estate of our nation, and look upon the face of those that are sanctified unto thee this day.
20 Then they comforted Achior, and praised him greatly.
21 And Ozias took him out of the assembly unto his house, and made a feast to the elders; and they called on the God of Israel all that night for help.

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Posted by on June 28, 2011 in Glory


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