The goal of the Corpus Vitrearum committees for the United States of America is unique within the larger scope of the international Corpus Vitrearum. Stained glass created before 1700, with few exceptions, has been imported to our shores—primarily during the twentieth century. Despite the slow appreciation of Americans for the art of medieval and Renaissance stained glass, the United States is now a rich repository of panels originating from throughout Europe and from all phases of its manufacture. Medieval and Renaissance stained glass can be found in thirty out of the fifty states, and is housed in a wide spectrum of museum collections, private homes, educational institutions, and incorporated anew into church windows.
The American Committee began with Yale professor Sumner Crosby and his intrepid graduate student, Jane Hayward. From the completion of her dissertation on “The Angevine Style of Glass Painting” in 1958, Hayward directed the work of the American Committee—even when she was the lone committee member—to survey, document, and research the over 3,000 panels now in the United States. Through Hayward’s efforts, and those of her colleagues, Meredith P. Lillich and Madeline H. Caviness, the American Committee has steadily grown to nearly thirty members, including specialists in glass conservation and science. The American Committee has energetically maintained Hayward’s original vision to publish medieval and Renaissance stained glass in this country. In addition to an inaugural publication of Occasional Papers in 1985, a series of four ‘checklists’ has endeavored to publish the panels known in the US with basic information, photographs, and bibliography. Four fascicules have been published so far, covering Midwestern states, Upstate New York, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as Hayward’s posthumous publication of the French and English medieval stained glass in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Additional volumes are projected to appear in the near future.