In his last will and testament, dated 1811, Philadelphia merchant William Poyntell left to his son-in-law 'all my stained glass which I brought from Europe excepting only two pieces . . .' Three of Poyntell's glass panels, kept in the family for over 100 years and now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, have been identified as part of the thirteenth-century glass removed in 1803 from the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris under order of Napoleon. Because Poyntell took only one trip to Europe, in 1802-3, he must have purchased the glass shortly after its removal from the chapel. In this essay, I attempt to reconstruct the circumstances in which Poyntell bought the stained glass and suggest why he went to the trouble and expense of transporting the heavy, fragile panels across the Atlantic. Finally, I analyze Poyntell's interest in medieval art and the Gothic Revival, placing it within the cultural context of Philadelphia c. 1800.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Visual Arts and Performing Arts