Study of Stained Glass, 'St Barbara', Santa Croce, Florence, ItalyArtist:
Thomas Matthews Rooke
, British, 1842 - 1942
Material and Medium: watercolour on paper
Dimensions: Mount: 418 x 295mm
Sight size: 250 x 87mm
Accession Number: CGSG00193
This window comes from a scheme that depicts saints and Biblical figures in glass and fresco around Santa Croce’s high altar. The artist Agnolo Gaddi (1350-1396) designed and partially painted this entire area.
St Barbara was a Christian Roman who was imprisoned and later beheaded by her father for refusing to marry a pagan. In this image of her she carries a chalice and wafer, the symbols of Christ’s body and blood. She also holds a sword, representing her death by beheading, but also her position as the patron saint of armourers.
Ruskin commissioned a number of stained glass window studies and felt Rooke was very good at capturing their design and colour. This would have been important as he wrote: ‘the true perfection of a painted window is to be serene, intense, brilliant, like flaming jewellery; full of easily legible and quaint subjects; and exquisitely subtle, yet simple in its harmonies.’