Curator's Choice: The Stained Glass Museum

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The Independent Culture
My chosen piece is a panel of George III which we have only just acquired. The original painting was by Joshua Reynolds and was copied onto glass by James Pearson in 1793. It was found fairly recently in Windsor, out of its leads, and in a rather collapsed state.

The King is shown seated on the 13th-century Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. Enamels have been painted onto the glass - the traditional medieval method was to use coloured glass - and black paint has been used to create the detail. It is a very large piece, about 8ft by 5ft.

The glass used in the panel is very thin and delicate and has been quite badly damaged in the past. It is an exciting and unusual piece because little glass from this period has survived. It was offered to us by the Royal Collection and we were very keen to take it. We have it for a period of 20 years. .

The museum was founded in 1972 with the idea of rescuing and preserving fine stained glass, mainly from redundant churches. It traces the development of the craft from the medieval to the pictorial tradition, through the Gothic revival to modern secular work.

I believe the George III panel is going to be magnificent when the restoration is complete. The last time I saw it, it was in pieces on the floor in Windsor Castle store where it looked like dirty bits of glass. Yet it really is quite different from anything else we have in the gallery and we hope it will attract an awful lot of visitors over the next 20 years.

Susan Mathews is the curator of the Stained Glass Museum, North Triforium, Ely Cathedral, Ely (0353 667735). Opening times: 1 March-31 October, Mon-Fri 10.30-4pm, Sat 10.30-4.30pm, Sun 12 noon-3pm.

(Photograph omitted)