Tree of Jesse Window: The Reclining Jesse, King David, and Scenes from the Life of Jesus
Made in Swabia, Germany
Pot-metal glass, vitreous paint, and lead
Overall: 154 1/4 x 14 3/4 x 1/2 in. (391.8 x 37.5 x 1.3 cm)
panel a (Jesse): 24 x 14 in. (61 x 35.6 cm)
panel b (David): 25 1/4 x 14 in. (64.1 x 35.6 cm)
panel c (Presentation in the Temple): 25 1/4 x 13 3/4 in. (64.1 x 34.9 cm)
panel d (Last Supper): 25 3/8 x 14 in. (64.5 x 35.6 cm)
panel e (Crucifixion): 25 3/8 x 13 3/4 in. (64.5 x 34.9 cm)
panel f (Ascension): 26 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. (67.9 x 34.9 cm)
Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1922
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 304
The Book of Isaiah presents Jesse, an ancestor of Christ, as the root of a great tree, a symbol of his illustrious progeny. In this thirteenth-century stained-glass panel from Swabia in southern Germany, Jesse lies asleep at the bottom, and the tree rises like a dream from his side. In branches coiling from the trunk, prophets hold scrolls that foretell the coming of Christ. King David holds a harp in the roundel immediately above Jesse, and the four upper roundels contain scenes from the life of Christ, from bottom to top, the Presentation in the Temple, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Ascension. The vertical trunk unifies the panel and seems to merge with the wood of the cross in the Crucifixion scene.
Inscription: a - FRATER SIS IRES QVO TEND(e)S ET VNDE VENIRES NVMQVAM CLAVDES SED IN OMNI TEMPORE FLER b - QVANDO PIVM IHESVM VIDEO SIC VERBERE CAESVM SI NON COMMOVEOR ME PECVS ESSE REOR c - PARVVX NATVS EST NOBIS FILIVS DAT(u)S EST NOBIS HOMO NATVS EST IN EA ET IPSE FVNDAVIT EA ALTISSIMVS d - EGREDIETVR VIRGA DE RADICE JESSE ECCE VIRGO CONCIPIET (et) PARIET FILIVM ET VOCAVIT NOMEN EIVS EMANVEL e - IN MANIBVS EIVS DAVID QVONIAM M(an)IBVS .C.E.S.
[ S. Durlacher, London (sold 1922)]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Art Treasures of the Metropolitan: A Selection from the European and Asiatic Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1952. no. 57, pp. 51, 64, 222.
Hayward, Jane. "Stained-Glass Windows." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 30, no. 3 (December 1971-January 1972). p. 118.
Caviness, Madeline H., ed. Stained Glass Before 1700 in American Collections: New England and New York (Corpus Vitrearum Checklist I). Studies in the History of Art, Vol. 15. Washington, D.C.: National Art Gallery, 1985. p. 104.
Husband, Timothy B., and Charles T. Little. Europe in the Middle Ages. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987. no. 93, pp. 100-101.
Strickland, Debra Higgs. Saracens, Demons, & Jews: Making Monsters in Medieval Art. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003. p. 98, fig. 37.