Stained Glass Panel with the Visitation

Date: 1444

Geography: Made in Germany

Culture: German

Medium: Pot metal, white glass, vitreous paint, silver stain, olive-green enamel

Dimensions: Overall (with 1 T-bar): 43 3/8 x 29 1/8 x 3/8 in. (110.2 x 74 x 1 cm)
a: 22 1/16 x 29 1/4 x 3/8 in. (56 x 74.3 x 1 cm)
b: 21 7/16 x 29 1/16 x 3/8 in. (54.5 x 73.8 x 1 cm)

Classification: Glass-Stained

Credit Line: Francis L. Leland Fund, 1913

Accession Number: 13.64.3a, b


Upon hearing from the archangel Gabriel that she would be the mother of Christ, the Virgin Mary left Nazareth for a city in the hill country of Judah, to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was herself pregnant with John the Baptist. This stained-glass panel depicts the embrace of the two women. The Virgin, on the left, is taller than her cousin, who is depicted as an older woman, with covered head and neck. Their swollen abdomens indicate their pregnancies. The two castles on rocky peaks, standing against a red, damascened background, refer to the different towns in which Mary and Elizabeth live, and hence to the Virgin's journey.

This panel was part of an ambitious glazing cycle executed between 1440 and 1447 for the Carmelite church of Boppard, a town in the Middle Rhine region. The Visitation was one of fifteen panels with scenes from the lives of Christ and the Virgin that made up a Tree of Jesse window. In the Middle Ages, the prediction in Isaiah 11:1—"There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse"—was considered a reference to the Virgin. Artists often represented Jesse asleep, with a shoot growing from his side into a genealogical tree with Christ's ancestors on its branches or, as in Boppard, supporting narrative scenes. The large areas of unbroken colors and the vigorous drawing restricted to the main lines of faces, garments, and landscape ensured that this lucid composition, originally installed quite high, remained legible from a great distance.