Munich-style stained glass and German armour illuminated the salerooms
Beyond Bavaria, the best remembered of its kings is ‘Mad’ Ludwig II, patron of Wagner and builder of fairytale castles. not only was he not the only possible madman in the family —his brother and successor was more provably insane—but neither was he the only Wittelsbach to be passionate about the Arts. His grandfather, Ludwig I, and father, Maximilian II, were responsible for establishing Munich as a major cultural centre with collections that would put the capitals of many more prominent national capitals to shame.
Ludwig I (reigned 1825–48) used culture as a political, diplomatic and economic tool that enabled Bavaria to assert its independence from Prussia and Austria and to project the kingdom’s influence far beyond Germany. one of his initiatives, in 1827, was to set up the Institute of Glass Painting, which eventually became the Royal Bavarian Stained Glass Manufactory under the direction of Franz Xaver Zettler.
Zettler (1841–1916) was a merchant before becoming a glass painter and art historian. The leading Bavarian manufacturer of stained glass and church fittings was Joseph Gabriel Mayer and Zettler trained with him, rising to become his works manager and son-in-law before setting up his own business.
Ludwig II granted him a royal warrant, as did Pope Leo XIII and, between them, Mayer and Zettler built up a formidable clientele in the USA, where there was a boom in Roman Catholic churches and cathedrals. Because stained glass counted as art, it could be imported tax-free and they could undercut the local plain and opalescent glass previously favoured by Protestant and other American churches.
In 1884, Zettler opened a branch in America, which was later run by his sons. The two businesses eventually came together again and the firm continues in the ownership of the Mayer family.
early Munich-style windows were painted on relatively large sheets of glass, but, from the 1860s, Mayer and Zettler determined to ‘reactivate the ideas of the medieval cathedral building trades’ and turned back to earlier styles and techniques to produce relatively faithful copies of Gothic masterpieces in French and German cathedrals.
I say ‘relatively’ because, however faithful copyists, or forgers, may be, there are often traces of their own times, particularly perhaps in the representation of female faces. In a 33½in by 22in Zettler Studios window of Saints Apollonia and Barbara (Fig 2), for instance, copied from one dating from about 1487 in St Lorenz, nuremberg, , I would suggest that, although Apollonia, on the left, looks convincingly 15th century, Barbara owes more to the 19th. St Apollonia, by the way, is the patron of dentistry, because she was tortured by having her teeth violently pulled —she holds one in her tongs— and so popular were her relics that it is said that tons of her teeth were confiscated in england during the reign of Henry VI.
This was one of a group of Zettler windows offered by Thomas del Mar in late June at 25, Blythe Road, olympia, W14. del Mar is an arms and armour specialist and these unwarlike lots were offered in more martial company because they came with the latest consignment from the John Woodman Higgins Armory of Worcester, Massachsetts, USA, now incorporated in the Worcester Art Museum.
Many of the 34 lots were bought by an unidentified ‘institution’ that is apparently preparing an exhibition on the subject. As a result, even the cheapest of them were well above estimate. Most expensive was an excellent example of Munich-style medieval glass, a 96in by 88in copy
of the Death and Burial of the
Virgin (Fig 1) in the south nave aisle at Chartres, which dates from about 1260. This came with a wood-and-iron display frame and had been estimated to £6,000; it made £32,240.
A second Chartres copy, of The Madonna and Child with Angels reached £18,600 and, from Bourges, a Madonna and Child lancet measuring 435∕8in by 24in and estimated to £3,000 sold for £24,800 (Fig 3). Three more of the top lots, copied from originals of about 1515 in St Sebaldus, Nuremberg, each estimated to £1,000, were a 44in by 17in St Anne, the Child and Madonna (Fig 4) at £17,360 and a 17in by 44in Saint Sebaldus (Fig 5) and Saint Christopher (Fig 6) at £19,840 and £14,880. The cheapest lot was a comparatively small strip of scrolling foliage copied from a 13th-century window at the Abbey of St Denis, which made £240 against a £150 estimate. Next week Six degrees of Sandys separation
Fig 1 above left: Copy of the Chartres Death and Burial of the Virgin. £32,240 Fig 2 above: Saints Apollonia and Barbara. £16,120
Fig 4: St Anne, the Child and Madonna. £17,360
Fig 5: Copy of Nuremberg’s Saint Sebaldus. £19,840
Fig 6: Copy of Nuremberg’s Saint Christopher. £14,880
Fig 3: Madonna and Child lancet. £24,800