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This is an exquisite and unique, antique stained glass fragment, once forming part of a late 1850s stained glass church window. It is a wonderful example of the highest levels of skill and creativity reached during the Gothic Revival stained glass movement in Victorian England. It beautifully depicts a male head - probably a saint or apostle, in deep observation.
The male head is exquisitely hand-painted by a skilled artisan using glazes and silver stain on clear glass. The wonderful thing about this piece is the way it transforms in different light conditions; appearing to have four different faces in one. The face is masterfully worked so as to have subtle transparent tonal work and more opaque pattern working together on the same piece of glass. The hair is portrayed in a stylised and decorative manner, using linear scrolling and spiralling lines in gold and yellow ochre, reminiscent of simplified waves seen in Japanese prints. The contrast of styles is very interesting.
When illuminated from the front and sides, the face has a wonderful three-dimensional appearance with a magnificent sense of realism. In partial light the face has the appearance of a hologram or a photo-negative. When lit from behind the face emanates light and colour and the diffrent painterly styles are beautifully contrasted. The artisan's skill can also be seen in the way he has conveyed an expression of deep concentration and awe in the man's face. It has the feeling of having been lovingly handmade - which adds to its beauty.
The face is painted in a classical style but is also influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites (of the same period). The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood also sought to recover the simplicity and purity of medieval art. This is a dreamy, romanticising of a male religious figure; representing the saint or apostle as the romantic male ideal.
The piece looks stunning in all lights, natural and artificial, strong and subdued (photo 3).
It is in excellent condition, two smalls chips, on the top and bottom edge. They do not detract and are outside the painting of the face itself.
It measures approximately 6 inches wide x 6 1/2 inches in height.
This is a unique and special piece of English architectural history. It would appeal to lovers of the Pre-Raphaelites or the Gothic Revival, all of you who are drawn to romantic, historic, poetic or sacred artifacts and anyone with a passion for classical male heads.