St Catherine of Alexandria; Mystic Marriage of St Catherine

ca. 1845 (made)

Kellner, Stephen

Height: 51.4 cm, Width: 32 cm, Depth: 3.2 cm

2634-1845 CER

Stained glass panel depicting St Catherine of Alexandria. Made by Stephen Kellner in Nuremberg about 1845.

This stained-glass panel depicting St Catherine is one of a pair. The companion panel portrays the Virgin and the Christ Child who offers a ring to the saint's outstretched hand. According to medieval legends, Catherine was born to a noble family in Alexandria at the end of the third century. She was converted to Christianity probably in her teens and she underwent a 'marriage' or a spiritual bond with Christ. The Golden Legend, a mid-13th century compilation of saints' lives, relates that Catherine refused the attentions of the pagan emperor Maxentius who had her tortured, including breaking her on the wheel. She died, was martyred for the Christian faith, in the early 4th century. The panels are believed to have been made around 1845 by the studio of Stephen Kellner in Nuremberg, Germany. The design is an exact copy of part of a 15th-century window, which had been commissioned to commemorate the Volckamer family, in St Lawrence's church, also in Nuremberg. This vividly coloured panel is made from both stained and painted glass. The red and green sections are true stained glass or 'pot-metal', made by adding different metallic oxides to molten glass. The yellow areas are clear glass, the surface of which has been painted with a silver-based stain and then fired. The cobalt blue was, in this instance, achieved by applying blue enamel to the reverse of clear glass. Its peculiar surface finish suggests that it was applied not with a brush but with some type of roller, a technique unusual to stained-glass production. A panel identical to this was exhibited by Kellner in the Great Exhibition of 1851. This version was one of several examples of contemporary glass acquired by the Museum in 1844-1845, probably with a view to representing modern manufacturing techniques in the collections. German stained glass seems to have enjoyed a reasonable degree of interest in early Victorian Britain, as there was general dissatisfaction with the work of English companies during this period.

Possibly made by the Kellner studio, Nuremberg, Germany. Purchased for the Government School of Design in 1845.

Location: British Galleries, room 122g, case WN

View this object on the V&A website