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Stained glass panels, whether smaller decorative adornments or full windowpanes, add a beautiful bounty of color. Their luminescent glow when lit casts a brilliant rainbow of warmth, a beloved characteristic rooted in the stained glass tradition.
Though small fragments suggest artists were experimenting with stained glass techniques far back into history, it was not until the Romanesque and Gothic ages (11th to 13th centuries) that stained glass as it is known today emerged. In these early instances, stained glass proved an essential medium within churches, as artists discovered it was a captivating medium through which essential Biblical narratives could be relayed. Many early churches were relatively devoid of decoration on the interior, so the coloristic vibrancy of stained glass panels, further illuminated by the sun, drew attention to these narratives as if they were being relayed through divine intervention.
Popularity of the medium increased over the course of the Renaissance era, but changing tastes led to a dramatic decrease in stained glass production for several centuries following. By the 19th century, though, the art form made a comeback. Artists working in the late 19th- and early 20th-century Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau traditions embraced the medium and helped encourage its return as a celebrated art form.
The first pane glass windows were created by the Romans in the 1st century A.D., and the first colored glass windows date to four centuries later
One of history's most celebrated examples of stained glass is the Gothic Saint-Chapelle chapel in Paris. Built in the 13th century for King Louis IX, the chapel features 15 elongated stained glass lancet windows
The largest recorded handmade stained glass window is a relatively contemporary installation at Saint Mary's Basilica of the Assumption in Kentucky. The window retells the story of the council of Ephesus from the 5th century A.D.