Patricia C. Pongracz, at the time a graduate student at Brown University, studied the glass excavated at the Augustinian abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, Soissons, France (founded 1076).
The study of glass from the monastic site of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes was based on excavations of the Wesleyan-Brown Monastic Archaeology Project. In 1998, approximately 1,500 fragments were categorized according to color, painting style, grozing technique, thickness, and weathering. These categories, derived from visual examination, allowed a tentative glazing chronology to be established. A selection of these glasses was chemically analyzed by The Corning Museum of Glass in order to fix the chronology more firmly.
“This chronology will enable the various monastic glazing campaigns to be reconstructed, which, in turn, will permit insight into the glazing techniques, technical developments, and aesthetic choices employed over the 700-year occupation of this major monastic site,” Ms. Pongracz explained.
“The study of glass production, window fabrication, restoration, and subsequent refabrication on a major monastic site has technical and aesthetic implications for the entire region over which the abbey’s influence extended,” she added. “The architectural significance of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes has been recognized since the 11th century; now the significance of its glazing program may be similarly assessed.”
The Soissonais was one of the richest and most innovative areas of medieval glass painting. Research of other abbey, parish, and cathedral churches in the region shed light on how their glazing programs were affected by the many windows of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes from the 13th to 17th centuries.