Ways to discover the collection

Stained glass

Through their radiance, church windows transformed light into the symbolic expression of God. At times blazingly bright, at times eerily gloomy, windows depicting biblical scenes or the figures of the saints made a strong impression on their observers.
Records such as those written in the 12th century by the monk Theophilus Presbyter provide information on how stained glass was made in the Middle Ages. Glass panes dyed with metal oxides were put together like a mosaic and connected with lead cames. Up until c. 1300, only black stain was available for the fine inner drawings, later colours such as silver stain and sanguine were applied to clear glass panes.
Over the course of the Gothic period, the windows greatly began to increase in size, and stained glass soon surpassed mural art in importance. In Cologne, stained glass experienced its heyday in the 13th and 14th centuries – one of the main projects being the windows of the cathedral.
In the 16th century, stained glass experienced a renaissance in Cologne and the Netherlands when Grisaille glass panels became popular for the decoration of private homes. An especially high-quality example of this is the allegorical glass depicting law and mercy.

 Coronation of the Virgin Mary, Cologne, c. 1250-1260, stained glass, 91.1 x 48.2 cm, Inv. No. M 3, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Coronation of the Virgin Mary
Cologne, c. 1250-1260

 Dormition of the Virgin Mary, Cologne, c. 1250-1260, stained glass, 88 x 45 cm, Inv. No. M 2, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Dormition of the Virgin Mary
Cologne, c. 1250-1260

 St. Stephen, Cologne, c. 1280, stained glass, 64 x 57 cm, Inv. No. M 524, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Stephen
Cologne, c. 1280

 Two Angels Playing Music, Northern France or Cologne, c. 1325-1330, stained glass, 70 x 52 cm, Inv. No. M 22, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Two Angels Playing Music
Northern France or Cologne, c. 1325-1330

 Ten Commandments Window from the Carmelite Church in Boppard, Middle Rhine, c. 1440, stained glass, 380 x 249 cm, Inv. No. M 596, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Ten Commandments Window from the Carmelite Church in Boppard
Middle Rhine, c. 1440

 Adoration of the Magi from the Sacristy of the Ratskapelle (Council Chapel) in Cologne, Cologne, 1474, stained glass, 270 x 175 cm, Inv. No. M 594, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Adoration of the Magi from the Sacristy of the Ratskapelle (Council Chapel) in Cologne
Cologne, 1474

 Crucifixion Window from St. Laurentius in Cologne, Cologne, before 1489, stained glass, 320 x 181 cm, Inv. No. M 501-15, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Crucifixion Window from St. Laurentius in Cologne
Cologne, before 1489

 Our Lady of Sorrows, Lower Rhine, c. 1490-1500, stained glass, 87 x 47 cm, Inv. No. M 522, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Our Lady of Sorrows
Lower Rhine, c. 1490-1500

 Man of Sorrows, Lower Rhine, c. 1490-1500, stained glass, 86 x 47 cm, Inv. No. M 523, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Man of Sorrows
Lower Rhine, c. 1490-1500

 Tobias Drawing the Fish from the Water, Master of Tobias, Bruges, c. 1500, stained glass, Ø 26.40 cm, Inv. Nr. M 702, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Tobias Drawing the Fish from the Water
Master of Tobias, Bruges, c. 1500

 St. Cecilia, Cologne, 1525-1530, stained glass, 68.5 x 67 cm, Inv. No. M 706, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

St. Cecilia
Cologne, 1525-1530

 Scene from the Altenberg Cloister Cycle: St. Bernard Preaches in Germany on the Crusades and Heals the Sick, Cologne, c. 1520-1530, stained glass, 103 x 90 cm, Inv. No. M 568, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Scene from the Altenberg Cloister Cycle: St. Bernard Preaches in Germany on the Crusades and Heals the Sick
Cologne, c. 1520-1530

 Glass Panel Depicting the Allegory of Law and Mercy, Cologne, c. 1551, stained glass, Ø 30 cm, Inv. No. M 695, © Rheinisches Bildarchiv

Glass Panel Depicting the Allegory of Law and Mercy
Cologne, c. 1551