Window 11,12,13 – Ascension Window

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Subject:  Ascension

Dedication:     In memory of Edward C. McGuire, D.D.

Maker/Date:   German, 1885


The Ascension took place 40 days after the Resurrection when Jesus led the disciples to Bethany. He raised his hands, blessed them and the was lifted up until a cloud took him out of their sight. This is shown in the window.

The Acts of the Apostles states that the disciples were in Jerusalem. Jesus appeared before them and commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the”Promise of the Father”. He stated, “You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5).

After Jesus gave these instructions, He led the disciples to the Mount of Olives. Here, He commissioned them to be His witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It is also at this time that the disciples were directed by Christ to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in thename of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus also told them that He would be with them always, “even to the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

As the disciples were gazing upwards, two angels appeared with them dressed in white. They said that Jesus would return to them in the same way as they had him leave (Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:3-11).  This is not depicted here in this window. Instead he is shown, arms raised, disappearing into a cloud with his feet and the hem of his clothes visible. His feet still show scars of the crucifixion.

In the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives, there is an indentation of a rock that is meant to be Jesus’ last footprint on earth. The rock is partially shown on the left window which depicts St. Peter. Jesus asked the disciples, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ and Peter replied ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ As a result of that declaration, Jesus said in v 19, ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…’

The right image is probably that of John, the beloved who was always with him. John is always depicted as a young, smooth-faced disciple.

The other 8  disciples are present – three in the bottom right of St. Peter, three in the middle, 2 in the John window. See if you can find them! Judas was not there since he had hanged himself and neither was Thomas.

Artistic Techniques  – This is the earliest of windows at St. George’s and the only international windows, attributed to Heidelberg, Germany. We don’t know the artist

Germany has some of the oldest stained glass windows. The oldest complete European windows are thought to be five relatively sophisticated figures in Augsburg Cathedral. Notable Romanesque windows with more complicated religious motifs are in Cologne and Strasbourg Cathedrals and the Franciscan Monastery of Konigsfelden.

Stained Glass windows fell out of favor from the late medievel age until the 19th century. The reasons were religious, political and aesthetic. The Church had been the principal patron of the arts. The new Protestants were hostile to elaborate art and decoration.

By 1640 colored glass was very scarce. This necessitated painting on white glass with enamels. The little decorative glass that was produced was mostly small heraldic panels for city halls and private homes. Stained glass that had been so popular just a few years before was no longer in demand

It was revived in Germany and Austria in the 19th century.  In 1809, a group of young artists in Vienna defied their academic teachers and founded an art cooperative they called “The Brotherhood of Saint Luke.” Within a year, they were living in a commune in an abandoned monastery in Rome. They thought of themselves as following Albrecht Durer, who had traveled to Rome to study, and as being influenced by Raphael and Perugino. They were called The Nazarenes, first in mockery, but later with grudging admiration. The art of the Nazarenes was readily adaptable to stained glass because they used flat colors and bold outlines. They influenced stained glass even though they did not work in the medium.

Further German influences include Michael Sigismund Frank, who did his first glass painting in 1804, became the first manager of the Royal Bavarian Glass Painting Studio in 1827; and Max Ainmiller of Munich supplied some windows for Peterhouse in Cambridge University in 1855. Many consider Ainmiller’s most important work to be windows for the Cologne Cathedral in 1848.

Franz Mayer founded a studio in Munich, which at first, produced sculpture and marble altars. In 1860, the studio began making stained glass. The studio restored medieval windows and executed new windows all over the world, including many to the US. They are famous for heroic sized picture windows, extremely representational, with all the saints unmistakably German, that is, fair skinned, robust and hearty figures.

The Oidtmann studios for glass and mosaic were founded in 1857 by a medical doctor and student of chemistry, Dr. H. Oidtmann. Working with glass slides inspired him to study stained glass. He founded a small studio as a sideline, but it soon grew into a major enterprise with 100 employees. At his death, his son Heinrich II, also a medical doctor and stained glass scholar, took over the stained glass studio. He wrote the book: Rhenish Stained Glass from the 12th to the 16th Centuries. He, too, died in his 50s, leaving the completion of his second volume to his son, Heinrich Oidtmann III. When Heinrich III died at the age of 40, his wife continued the studio.