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Major Exhibition Exploring the Design of Stained-glass Masterpieces of Renaissance Germany and Switzerland Opens at Getty Museum on July 11

More Than 60 Glass Panels and 80 Drawings from US and Europe Assembled in Unprecedented Exhibition

May 8, 2000

LOS ANGELES-From monumental church windows to small panels in private homes, the art of stained glass reached new heights during the late Gothic and Renaissance periods in Germany and Switzerland (from 1480 to 1530). Painting on Light: Drawings and Stained Glass in the Age of Dürer and Holbein, on view July 11 to September 24, 2000 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, presents exquisite stained-glass panels that have survived the centuries, along with the drawings on which they were based. This major exhibition assembles more than 60 glass panels and approximately 80 preparatory drawings from collections in the United States, Germany, Switzerland, and elsewhere. Painting on Light is co-organized with The Saint Louis Art Museum where it will be on view from November 4, 2000 to January 7, 2001.

Painting on Light highlights the collaborative efforts between the draftsmen who drew the pictorial designs and the glass artists who rendered in stained glass enduring images of storytelling and devotion. The exhibition focuses primarily on works designed by Nuremberg's celebrated painter and printmaker Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)-principally known for his woodcuts, such as the famous Apocalypse series-and Basel's renowned painter Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98-1543)-famous for his portraits made in the court of King Henry VIII of England. Both artists are not generally associated with stained glass, yet they played an important role in shaping a new aesthetic for the medium and created some of the most splendid works in the history of stained glass.

The exhibition also encompasses drawings and glass panels produced by contemporaries of Dürer and Holbein in Nuremberg, Augsburg, Strasbourg, Freiburg im Breisgau, Basel, Bern, and Zurich. Stained glass was ubiquitous in Southern Germany and Switzerland, adorning not only windows in churches, but also castle towers, civic buildings, private chapels, inns, universities, hospitals, and even bathhouses. The figural panels treated a wide range of themes that evoke the spirit of the Renaissance, including Old and New Testament subjects, the lives of the saints, Roman history, the heroes of classical mythology, and chivalric pastimes such as hunting and jousting.

"This exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view in one place a large quantity of radiant paintings on glass juxtaposed with related drawings" said Lee Hendrix, curator of drawings at the Getty Museum, who curated the exhibition with Barbara Butts, guest curator at The Saint Louis Art Museum. "Drawings are often the only remaining evidence we have of the vast amount of stained glass lost over time. They not only help identify artists responsible for designing a panel or window, but they also demonstrate how glass painters used their judgment, formal intuition, and specialized skills to interpret drawings in terms of the glass medium."

Having transformed the art of woodcutting, engraving, and painting in Germany through the enormous influence of his graphic language, Dürer had a similar impact in the field of stained glass. He introduced to stained glass, figures of unprecedented monumentality and pathos, set in extensive landscapes and in unified architectural settings. The impact of Dürer's designs is most evident in their rhythmically organized, swelling and tapering lines; lively and varied facial expressions; figural movement; and spacious compositions.

Hans Holbein the Younger, who was a generation younger than Dürer, also brought a new impetus to stained-glass design. Although he designed stained glass only on a small scale, Holbein introduced to stained glass painterly effects of the utmost subtlety. He infused the medium with an architectural vocabulary and figural style of classical grandeur.

Among the exhibition highlights is the reunion of two glass windows, The Annunciation and Saints Andrew and Pope Sixtus II, which adorned the private chapel of Dr. Sixtus Tucher of Nuremberg. Although drawings for the windows have not survived, these lost designs were certainly made by Dürer around 1504-5.

When Tucher's home was destroyed around 1833, the two windows were sold. They were later re-purchased by the Tucher family. Today The Annunciation is housed at the Museum Tucherschloss in Nuremberg. The window depicting Saints Andrew and Pope Sixtus II was purchased by William Randolph Hearst in 1929 and in 1954 came to the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, where it is now on permanent display at the Forest Lawn Museum.

Butts explains, "These two windows were clearly made by one of the finest glass painters in the workshop of Viet Hirsvogel the Elder," the official glazier of Nuremberg. "They represent a tour de force of the glass painter's technique. When the windows are reunited for this exhibition, the public will see two of the greatest masterpieces of German Renaissance glass painting."

A full-color, illustrated catalog, Painting on Light: Drawings and Stained Glass in the Age of Dürer and Holbein, accompanies the exhibition, with an introductory essay by Butts and Hendrix, essays by stained-glass specialists Barbara Giesicke, Mylène Ruoss, Hartmut Scholz, and Peter van Treeck, and catalog entries by Butts, Hendrix, and Timothy B. Husband.

Related Exhibition
German and Swiss Drawings from the Permanent Collection (June 6 through August 20, 2000) presents more than 30 works from the 15th through 17th century.

Related Events
Reservations required. Call 310-440-7300.


"Music under Glass: The Swiss-German Reformation" The acclaimed Swiss vocal and instrumental ensemble Lucidarium makes a rare Los Angeles appearance. Building around a remarkably rich manuscript compiled in Basel, the ensemble will explore the impact of the Reformation from Basel to Zürich, Nuremberg to Augsburg, and Strasbourg to Freiburg IM Breisgau.
Saturday, July 29 at 8 p.m. Pre-concert talk at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m. Pre-concert talk at 7 p.m.

Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Tickets $22; Tickets LA 323-655-TKTS


"Painting on Light: Drawings and Stained Glass in the Age of Dürer and Holbein"
Speakers include leading international scholars in old master drawings and stained glass.
Friday and Saturday, September 15 and 16.
Location: Museum Lecture Hall
Registration fee $40; $20 for students; call 310-440-7253 to register.


"Painting in Context: The Swiss Confederation around 1500" Beat Kümin, senior research fellow, Swiss National Science Foundation
Thursday, July 27 at 7 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Free. Call 310-440-7300 for reservations.

"The Luminous Image of a Nation: Swiss Stained Glass of the 15th and 16th Century"
Stefan Trümpler, director, Swiss Center for Research and Information on Stained Glass
Thursday, August 17 at 7 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Free. Call 310-440-7300 for reservations.

"Transmitting the Light of the True Sun: A Stained-Glass Window by Albrecht Dürer in Los Angeles"
Barbara Butts, guest curator, The Saint Louis Art Museum, and co-curator of Painting on Light: Drawings and Stained Glass in the Age of Dürer and Holbein
Thursday, September 14 at 7 p.m.
Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Free. Call 310-440-7300 for reservations.

Artist Demonstrations

Artists and craftspeople from the Judson Studios of Los Angeles demonstrate stained-glass techniques from initial design to the final stages of production.
Thursday, July 13 and 27; August 10 and 24
Sunday, July 16 and 30; August 20 and 27

1-4 p.m.
Museum Art Information Room, East Pavilion
Free. Call 310-440-7300 for information.


Family Festival
A day of celebration with performances by local dance and musical groups, storytelling, art-making workshops, and gallery activities related to Painting on Light. Produced by Community Arts Resources.
Sunday, August 13
10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Free. Call 310-440-7300 for information.

Weekend Family Workshops
Gallery teachers lead families through the exhibition and then work on art projects in the studio to learn more about stained glass. Pre-registration is required.
English: August 19 & 20 and September 9 & 10 at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Spanish: August 26 & 27 and September 23 & 24 at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Free. Call 310-440-7300 for registration.

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About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

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The J. Paul Getty Museum collects in seven distinct areas, including Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts, and European and American photographs. The Museum's mission is to make the collection meaningful and attractive to a broad audience by presenting and interpreting the works of art through educational programs, special exhibitions, publications, conservation, and research.