2014 | 14 | 71-97
Article title

Medieval Stained-Glass Windows and the Biblia pauperum - the Problem of Their Mutual Relationship

Title variants
Średniowieczne witraże a Biblia pauperum - problem wzajemnych relacji
Languages of publication
This essay examines the relations between schemes of stained-glass Windows and a group of typological manuscripts known as the Biblia pauperum. The Latin term ‘biblia pauperum’ (paupers bibie, bibie of the poor) madę a staggering career over centuries and gradually gained popularity as an equivalent of sacred visual art of the Middle Ages in generał. The proper meaning refers to a group of typological books combining text and image, popular in the later Middle Ages. However, the title is not original (it appeared as late as the fifteenth century, and had not become established until the eighteenth century), hence it is pointless to investigate who the ‘pauperes’ might have been. Occasionally, the origins of the term ‘biblia pauperum’were (erroneously) attributed to Saint Gregory the Great. A conviction that images can replace the written word was a recurrent theme in art theory throughout the entire medieval period. The main part of the article analyses the relationship between the Biblia pauperum illustrations and schemes of stained-glass Windows. There are only a few examples of this phenomenon, and one of them is particularly striking. It is a scheme of stained-glass Windows in the monastery at Hirsau in which each window copied one page of the błockbook version of the Biblia pauperum. Further, some less evident examples of stained-glass Windows related to the Biblia pauperum can be mentioned in Stephansdom in Vienna, in the churches in Lorch or Pram (Austria), in Brandenburg, and Cracow (St Marys Church). Usually, other typological compendia were used simultaneously with the Biblia pauperum. By contrast, a scheme of stained-glass Windows in the cathedral in Włocławek, appears not to be as closely connected to a group of early fourteenth-century Austrian Biblia pauperum manuscripts as was claimed in some earlier hypotheses. A reverse relation should be specially emphasized: perhaps the iconographic canon and composition of Biblia pauperum were based on stained-glass Windows, as typological Windows, for example the German Bibelfenster, were widespread already in the thirteenth
Physical description
  • Instytut Historii Sztuki UJ
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
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