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Biography: Patricia C. Pongracz

Patricia C. Pongracz

Patricia C. Pongracz, at the time a graduate student at Brown University, studied the glass excavated at the Augustinian abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, Soissons, France (founded 1076).

The study of glass from the monastic site of Saint­-Jean-des-Vignes was based on excavations of the Wes­leyan-Brown Monastic Archaeology Project. In 1998, approximately 1,500 fragments were catego­rized according to color, painting style, grozing tech­nique, thickness, and weathering. These categories, derived from visual examination, allowed a tenta­tive glazing chronology to be established. A selec­tion of these glasses was chemically analyzed by The Corning Museum of Glass in order to fix the chronology more firmly.

“This chronology will enable the various monas­tic glazing campaigns to be reconstructed, which, in turn, will permit insight into the glazing tech­niques, technical developments, and aesthetic choic­es employed over the 700-year occupation of this major monastic site,” Pongracz explained.

“The study of glass production, window fabrica­tion, restoration, and subsequent refabrication on a major monastic site has technical and aesthetic im­plications for the entire region over which the ab­bey’s influence extended,” she added. “The archi­tectural significance of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes has been recognized since the 11th century; now the sig­nificance of its glazing program may be similarly assessed.”

The Soissonais was one of the richest and most innovative areas of medieval glass painting. Re­search of other abbey, parish, and cathedral church­es in the region shed light on how their glaz­ing programs were affected by the many windows of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes from the 13th to 17th cen­turies.