The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present “Medieval Treasures from the Glencairn Museum,” a display of 18 works of French Romanesque and Gothic art on loan from the museum in Bryn Athyn, which is known for one of the world’s finest collections of medieval sculpture and stained glass from 12th-century France, from June 24, 2022 to fall 2023.
Glencairn Museum is currently closed to the public for extensive infrastructure renewal, presenting the opportunity to display highlights from its collection in context in the medieval galleries of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Glencairn Museum, located in the 1930s home built by collector Raymond Pitcairn (1885–1966), has a long history of loans to the museum’s medieval galleries, and often lends work to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Met Cloisters, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and major museums across Europe, including the Louvre Museum. This is the first major loan grouping to a U.S. museum from the Glencairn Museum since 1982.
Among the works on view are limestone and marble sculptures and figurative stained-glass panels from 12th- and 13th-century France, and Spanish Romanesque ivories. Highlights include one of the most important and best-preserved pieces of early Gothic glass in America, showing the Flight into Egypt (from the Abbey Church of St. Denis, north of Paris, c. 1140); the Head of a King attributed to Gislebertus, sculptor of the 12th-century portal of the Cathedral of Saint Lazare at Autun, France, c. 1130; a capital from St. Guilhem le Désert in southern France, late 1100s early 1200s; and limestone reliefs of the Temptation of Christ from the Collegiate Church of Saint Gaudens, France, c. 1150.
A particular strength of the installation will be a group of narrative stained-glass panels from the Gothic period. The stories depicted will be deciphered for visitors and placed into a broader context of their significance within the decorative schemes of their churches of origin. Similarly, the framing elements of some glass panels and the related decorative designs on the stone sculptures will show how narratives could be heightened by certain ornaments. The historic architectural interiors of the museum, including its Cloister and monumental portal from the Abbey Church of Saint Laurent, near Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire, France, will lend further context and depth to the presentation.
The installation will also offer insight into the story of medieval art in the United States, its relationship to faith, and how the Pitcairn family amassed the extraordinary Glencairn collection.