Glass - Back to the Future!

Presenting Author:
Claudine Loisel
<[email protected]>

article posted 29 March 2016

Claudine Loisel

Claudine Loisel, research Engineer at the head of the department of stained glass windows conservation, Research laboratory for historical monuments (LRMH).

After completing a Ph.D. in chemistry at the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg (Germany) associated with the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC, she joined the LRMH, laboratory of French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

She is in charge of expertise and diagnosis of conservation and restoration projects of the stained glass windows registered as historical monuments (cathedrals of Chartres, Stasbourg, Reims, Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, Vincennes, Riom, ...). She has participated in numerous national and international projects on knowledge and understanding of the weathering process glass materials.

She is also expert member of the committee for research on conservation and stained glass windows technology - (Corpus Vitrearum-ICOMOS).

Western rose restoration of Sainte-Chapelle in Paris;
A transdisciplinary study of the glass colors

Claudine Loisel*1, Myrtille Hunault1, 2, 5, Fanny Bauchau1 Claire Pacheco3
Quentin Lemasson3, Karine Boulanger4, Isabelle Pallot-Frossard3
Georges Calas5, Michel Hérold4

The Sainte-Chapelle in Paris is one of the most famous French gothic monuments Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Monument; it was built by King Louis IX in 1242-1248 to house the Passion relics. Recently, its exceptional corpus of stained glass windows has benefited from a restoration campaign, that ended in 2014-2015 with the restoration of the 15th century Flamboyant style rose.

Within the framework of a national project funded by Sorbonne-Universités, four teams have come together to set up a one year research project on the rose of the Sainte-Chapelle. The restoration campaign offered a unique opportunity to access this work-art in the ideal conditions of the restoration studio. Coupling the professional skills of historians, physicists, chemists and mineralogists, all experts in stained glass windows and medieval painting domain, this project aimed at determining and quantifying the palette of glass colors and the chemical compositions (glass, matrix elements and dyes). The results allowed to deduce information of the glasses manufacturing conditions and their temporal and geographical origins [1].

Our approach is based on the observations of the stained glass windows in the restoration studio. They are carried out in collaboration with conservators and historians in order to expertise and establish the critical authenticity. Then non-destructive and non-invasive analyses of the chemical composition and color of the glasses were carried out using AGLAE (Accélérateur Grand Louvre d'Analyse Elémentaire) on 4 panels.

32 window panels located in the restoration studio have been also analyzed using, an original portable optical absorption spectroscopy (OAS) and a portable X-ray fluorescence [2, 3, 4, 5]. These results revealed the extensive use of complex and high-technology glasses. The homogeneity of the chemical composition of the glasses and interpretations in terms of temporal and geographical origin will be discussed.


[1] M. Hérold, et al. "La couleur des vitraux anciens, le programme Convergence une approche interdisciplinaire ", Monumental, 49-51 (2015).

[2] M. Hunault, et al., "Assessment of transition element speciation in glasses using a portable transmission UV-visible-NIR spectrometer," Appl. Spectrosc., 70 [5] (2016).

[3] M. Hunault, et al., "Local Ordering Around Tetrahedral Co2+ in Silicate Glasses," J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 97 [1] 60-62 (2014).

[4] M. Hunault, et al. "Spectroscopic Investigation of the Coloration and Fabrication Conditions of Medieval Blue Glasses," J. Am. Ceram. Soc., 99 [1] 89-97 (2016).

[5] C. Loisel, et al. "Revealing the fabrication technique of rare medieval stained glass from the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris," in prep.).


1 Centre de recherche sur la conservation, USR 3224-CNRS, Laboratoire de Recherche des Monuments Historiques, MNHN, Sorbonne Universités, Champs-sur-Marne, France

2 University of Utrecht, Inorganic chemistry and catalysis group, Utrecht, the Netherlands

3 Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Paris, France

4 Sorbonne Universités, Université Paris-Sorbonne, CNRS, MCC, Centre André Chastel, Paris, France

5 Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Univ Paris 06, CNRS, IRD, MNHN, Institut de Minéralogie, de Physique des Matériaux et de Cosmochimie, Paris, France