Scene From The Life Of Thomas Becket
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Thomas Becket (c. 1118–1170), the archbishop of Canterbury, was declared a saint just two years after being murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by allies of the English king. This panel was once part of a window depicting the saint’s life and miracles from the ambulatory of Trinity Chapel, a devotional space within the cathedral. Though its subject remains unclear, this section is the only one to have survived, since it was removed from the cathedral in the nineteenth century and was spared from World War II. Stained glass was one of the most prized art forms of the Middle Ages; the development of Gothic architecture, with its tall, pointed arches and vaults supported by web-like ribs, enabled the inclusion of large windows. Often comprising a series of iron frames supporting glass medallions like the one seen here, the windows brought colored light into the church and provided new opportunities to illustrate Christian stories.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1924.108
People
Unidentified Artist
Title
Scene from the Life of Thomas Becket
Classification
Stained Glass
Work Type
stained glass
Date
c. 1190-1205
Places
Creation Place: Europe, United Kingdom, England, Canterbury
Culture
British
Location
Level 2, Room 2440, Medieval Art, Medieval Art
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Pot-metal glass, white glass with silver stain, vitreous paint
Dimensions
71.5 cm diam. (28 1/8 in.)
Provenance
Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury, England; (family of Miss Gell?); by descent to her son, Sir Francis Grayling, Sittingbourne, Kent, (late 19th century-1923) ; dispersed by his stepson Bertram Christian, sold; [through Professor Kirsopp Lake]; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1924.


Notes:
See box 86, Harvard Art Museum Archives. Grayling's family may have acquired the window from Canterbury Cathedral when the glass was replaced at the end of the 19th century.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Professor Arthur Kingsley Porter
Accession Year
1924
Object Number
1924.108
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
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Publication History

Madeline Harrison Caviness, "A Panel of Thirteenth-Century Stained Glass from Canterbury", Fogg Art Museum Acquisitions, 1964 (Cambridge, MA, 1965), pp. 27-33, pp. 24-33, repr.

Madeline Harrison Caviness, "A Panel of Thirteenth-Century Stained Glass, From Canterbury, in America", The Antiquaries Journal (London, 1965), vol. XLV, part II, pp. 192-199, pp. 192-199, repr. as plate LV

Madeline Harrison Caviness, The Early Stained Glass of Canterbury Cathedral, Princeton University Press (Princeton NJ, 1977), pp. 67-70, repr. as figs. IV, 115, 118

Madeline Harrison Caviness, Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass from New England Collections, exh. cat., Busch-Reisinger Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1978), no. 3, repr.

Madeline Harrison Caviness, The Windows of Christ Church Cathedral Canterbury, Oxford University Press (UK) (Oxford, England, 1981), no. 5 pp. 313-314; pp. 16, 158, 175, 177; repr.

Madeline Harrison Caviness and Jane Hayward, Stained Glass Before 1700 in American Collections: New England and New York, National Gallery of Art (Washington DC, 1985), p. 50, repr.

Elizabeth Bradford Smith, Medieval Art in America: Patterns of Collecting 1800-1940, exh. cat., Palmer Museum of Art (University Park, PA, 1996), p. 177

Medieval Illumination, Index Magazine (Cambridge, MA, June 24, 2016), [e-journal]

Exhibition History

Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 04/25/1978 - 06/10/1978

32Q: 2440 Medieval, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/01/2014

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu