Date of Issue: 12 February 2021
Designed by Sandrine Chimbaud
Engraved by Pierre Albuisson
Print process: Recess; 12 stamps per sheet
Colors: black, green, blue, red, pink, and gilding
Stamp size: 40.85 x 40.85 mm
Press Run: 700,800
Face Value: €1.50
First Day of Issue Location: Paris at “Square of Ink” 13 bis rue des Mathurins 75009 PARIS
Sandrine CHIMBAUD will host a signing session from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, February 12 (subject to health developments).
General sale on Monday, February 15, 2021
On February 15, 2021, La Poste issues a new stamp in the Métiers d’Art series initiated in 2016. After the jeweler, the stone sculptor, blacksmith, cabinetmaker, leatherworker, the crystal cutter, the bookbinder, the organ builder and the engraver on metal it is the skill of the stained glass artist that is in the spotlight.
A bit of history … of art
The stained glass artist, or master glassmaker, creates stained glass to decorate the windows of a building, sacred or secular, with images painted on the glass and bright colors projected inside the building. This art profession was born in the Middle Ages with the construction of churches, particularly in France, a land of cathedrals, where nearly one hundred thousand square meters of old stained-glass windows are still preserved today in these historic monuments. Ancient texts speak of the stained-glass windows, made of colored glass, in the first Christian buildings. We have been able to find pieces of stained-glass windows set with lead and painted in grisaille, dating from the Merovingian period.
The stained glass artist can create stained glass using the very old technique of assemblage, using lead ticks, pieces of flat, mouth-blown glass, colored or not, or using new contemporary techniques.
The stained glass window is presented as a mosaic of colored glass and as a true artistic composition on glass, thanks to the use of painting techniques, the palette of which has continued to be enriched over the centuries: grisaille painting black, sanguine, silver yellow, enamels, etching of acid-plated or mechanical glasses.
The execution of a stained-glass window involves many operations, requiring specific know-how: measurement of the windows in the building, creation and drawing of the stained-glass model, choice of colorings of the glasses, cutting of the glasses, cooking paints, lead crimping of glasses, installation of panels on scaffolding in the windows.
Today, the stained glass maker also uses new processes, and produces stained glass windows in slabs of glass, linked by concrete joints, or by thermoforming of glass plates, which allows to associate different colored glasses by fusion with the oven without using lead crimping.
The stained glass artist also plays a considerable role in the restoration and conservation of this exceptional heritage of ancient stained glass windows, preserved in France in churches and cathedrals, one of the most important in the world.
© La Poste – Jean-François Lagier – Director of the Center international du Vitrail, Chartres – All rights reserved.
Stained glass is transparent colored glass formed into decorative mosaics and set into windows, primarily in churches. During the art form’s heyday, between the 12th and 17th centuries CE, stained glass depicted religious tales from the Judeo-Christian Bible or secular stories, such as Chaucer’s Canterbury tales. Some of them also featured geometric patterns in bands or abstract images often based on nature.
Stained glass is made of silica sand (silicon dioxide) that is super-heated until it is molten. Colors are added to the molten glass by tiny (nano-sized) amounts of minerals—gold, copper, and silver were among the earliest coloring additives for stained glass windows. Later methods involved painting enamel (glass-based paint) onto sheets of glass and then firing the painted glass in a kiln.
Stained glass windows are a deliberately dynamic art. Set into panels on exterior walls, the different colors of glass react to the sun by glowing brightly. Then, colored light spills out from the frames and onto the floor and other interior objects in shimmering, dappled pools that shift with the sun. Those characteristics attracted the artists of the Medieval period.
The first stage in the production of a window is to make, or acquire from the architect or owners of the building, an accurate template of the window opening that the glass is to fit.
The subject matter of the window is determined to suit the location, a particular theme, or the wishes of the patron. A small design called a Vidimus (from Latin “we have seen”) is prepared which can be shown to the patron. A scaled model maquette may also be provided. The designer must take into account the design, the structure of the window, the nature and size of the glass available and his or her own preferred technique.
A traditional narrative window has panels which relate a story. A figurative window could have rows of saints or dignitaries. Scriptural texts or mottoes are sometimes included and perhaps the names of the patrons or the person to whose memory the window is dedicated. In a window of a traditional type, it is usually left to the discretion of the designer to fill the surrounding areas with borders, floral motifs and canopies.
A full-sized cartoon is drawn for every “light” (opening) of the window. A small church window might typically have two lights, with some simple tracery lights above. A large window might have four or five lights. The east or west window of a large cathedral might have seven lights in three tiers, with elaborate tracery. In medieval times the cartoon was drawn directly on the surface of a whitewashed table, which was then used as a pattern for cutting, painting and assembling the window. The cartoon is then divided into a patchwork, providing a template for each small glass piece. The exact position of the lead which holds the glass in place is also noted, as it is part of the calculated visual effect.
Each piece of glass is selected for the desired color and cut to match a section of the template. An exact fit is ensured by “grozing” the edges with a tool which can nibble off small pieces. Details of faces, hair and hands can be painted onto the inner surface of the glass using a special glass paint which contains finely ground lead or copper filings, ground glass, gum arabic and a medium such as wine, vinegar or (traditionally) urine. The art of painting details became increasingly elaborate and reached its height in the early 20th century.
From 1300 onwards, artists started using “silver stain” which was made with silver nitrate. It gave a yellow effect ranging from pale lemon to deep orange. It was usually painted onto the outside of a piece of glass, then fired to make it permanent. This yellow was particularly useful for enhancing borders, canopies and haloes, and turning blue glass into green glass. By about 1450, a stain known as “Cousin’s rose” was used to enhance flesh tones.
In the 16th century, a range of glass stains were introduced, most of them coloured by ground glass particles. They were a form of enameled glass. Painting on glass with these stains was initially used for small heraldic designs and other details. By the 17th century a style of stained glass had evolved that was no longer dependent upon the skillful cutting of coloured glass into sections. Scenes were painted onto glass panels of square format, like tiles. The colors were then annealed to the glass before the pieces were assembled.
A method used for embellishment and gilding is the decoration of one side of each of two pieces of thin glass, which are then placed back to back within the lead came. This allows for the use of techniques such as Angel gilding and Eglomise to produce an effect visible from both sides but not exposing the decorated surface to the atmosphere or mechanical damage.
Once the glass is cut and painted, the pieces are assembled by slotting them into H-sectioned lead cames. All the joints are then soldered together and the glass pieces are prevented from rattling and the window made weatherproof by forcing a soft oily cement or mastic between the glass and the cames. In modern windows, copper foil is now sometimes used instead of lead.
Traditionally, when a window was inserted into the window space, iron rods were put across it at various points to support its weight. The window was tied to these rods with copper wire. Some very large early Gothic windows are divided into sections by heavy metal frames called ferramenta. This method of support was also favored for large, usually painted, windows of the Baroque period.