Book Reviews -- le Vitrail by Nicole Blondel / Les Vitraux De Saint-Nicolas-De-Port by Michel Herold / Les Vitraux Narratifs De Las Cathedrale De Chartres by Colette Manhes-Deremble / Bread, Wine, and Money by Jane Welch Williams / and Others

Article excerpt

NICOLE BLONDEL

Le Vitrail: Vocabulaire typologique et technique

Paris: Inventaire General des Monuments et des Richesses Artistiques de la France, 1993. 437 pp.; 806 ills., mostly color. Fr. 890

MICHEL HEROLD

Les Vitraux de Saint-Nicolas-de-Port Corpus Vitrearum France, VIII/1

Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1993. 220 pp.; 16 color ills., 215 b/w. Fr. 480

COLETTE MANHES-DEREMBLE

Les Vitraux narratifs de la cathedrale de Chartres: Etude iconographique

Corpus Vitrearum France, Etudes II

Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1993. 385 pp.; 30 color ills., 168 b/w. Fr. 690

RICHARD MARKS

Stained Glass in England during the Middle Ages

Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1993. 301 pp.; 31 color ills., 200 b/w. $85.00

JANE WELCH WILLIAMS

Bread, Wine, and Money: The Windows of the Trades at Chartres Cathedral

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. 394 pp.; 4 color ills., 225 b/w. $55.00; $22.00 paper

Stained glass, the most durable and brilliant of all forms of monumental painting, is well served by this broad spectrum of books. For Lucien Magne, writing on the art of stained glass in 1885, France could boast two great eras, the 13th and the first half of the 16th century. Magne's great eras are represented by two standard-bearers for the glaziers' art, Chartres (studied by Colette Manhes-Deremble and Jane Welch Williams) and St. Nicolas-de-Port (surveyed by Michel Herold). Richard Marks reviews the history of glass from the earliest examples of leaded windows in Anglo-Saxon times through the Renaissance and even into the 19th-century revival. The breadth of this study is seconded by Nicole Blondel's volume on terminology for France's Inventaire General des Monuments et des Richesses Artistiques de la France. All these studies are both limited and enhanced by their formats.

To important books address the iconography of- the cathedral of Chartres. Williams's Bread, Wine, and Money: The Trade Windows of Chartres Cathedral is a revision of her 1987 dissertation already available to specialists (including Manhes-Deremble). Williams's study attempts to present the perspective of those not directly exercising power. She constructs a discourse to articulate the conflictual situations that affected the windows over a half century of history. In doing so she tends to view all situations as equal, as if part of a catalogue of conflicts, each conflict demonstrating equally the hegemonic power of a controlling elite over a deprived class. Manhes-Deremble, in a Corpus Vitrearum Etudes volume, more simply takes a perceived intention of the "responsables" as the controlling productive strategy for the glass. She sees those responsible as the bishops and canons and also "the donors," whom she believes responded to the clergy. The clergy, however, she characterizes as having a "new concern for pastoral work." and she labels the audience for the glass as "the faithful."

Williams's scholarship reveals as tenuous the evidence for the belief that artisans actually donated windows (in the modern sense). She explains the concept as a retrospective application by historians of the later-medieval autonomy of guilds and their veneration of select patron saints. By questioning the meaning of representation, her work has profound implications for studies of supposed donor portraits of other classes, for example, those of the Capetian dynasty published by Beat Brenk or Francoise Perrot.(1) Williams argues that windows were constructions whereby a self-serving clergy could represent classes over whom they desired control. If we look at any kind of self-imaging, especially by a corporate body, we find such strategies to be an inevitable pattern. We can observe in our own modern professional spheres university brochures and view books depicting a society of cultural and gender parity. …