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Lecture by Zsuzsanna Böröcz, PhD - Stained-glass without color

7PM,  27 September 2018 

Borocz slide copy

Zsuzsanna Böröcz, PhD

Research fellow KU Leuven and the University of Antwerp
Vice President of DOCOMOMO Belgium

Title of the presentation:

“You're going to talk about stained-glass without color, are you serious?” 

Stained-glass windows are generally associated with the marvelous play of sunlight through colorful pieces of glass. Among the most famous examples are the red and blue colors of the Saint-Chapelle in Paris and the Chartres cathedral. Indeed, it was in the lofty Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages, with its unimaginably large façade openings, that the Biblia Pauperum (the Bible of the Poor) was first realized – immense paintings of colored glass and lead lines, through which the Divine light illuminated the sacred interior of the cathedral. After a sharp decline in the 18th century (the age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution), the interest in stained glass windows was reawakened in the context of the Gothic Revival during the 19th century. Great efforts were made to recover old techniques, colors and designs, and stained-glass windows were again produced in ever greater quantities. In such a context, one would not expect to find any interest in historic windows without color, i.e. made of ‘unstained’ glass. And yet this is precisely what happened.  In 1865, a man named Hippolyte Vande Velde, King’s Prosecutor, publishes an elaborate treatise on colorless stained glass windows in the journal of the Belgian Royal Academy of Archaeology, which he motivates with the statement that the history of the young nation of Belgium would be incomplete without the study of these lead lights. How did this come about? Who was this man? How could a lawyer publish a treatise in an architecture and archaeology journal? What did he know about this lesser counterpart of stained glass? And why did he make such an impassioned plea for it? This lecture will immerse you in the complexities and contradictions of the 19th century, and shed light on a little-known aspect of its art and architecture history.

Language of the presentation: English

Zsuzsanna Böröcz grew up in Budapest. She is a musicologist, and art and architecture historian (KU Leuven). She obtained her Ph.D. from the KU Leuven in 2004 with a comparative and contextual study on postwar stained-glass windows in Catholic churches. Since then she has been teaching diverse subjects on art, design and architecture theory at the KU Leuven Faculty of Art and Faculty of Architecture, the Antwerp University College, the University of Antwerp Faculty of Design Sciences, and VU Amsterdam Faculty of Arts Design Cultures. She curated various exhibitions in Belgium (on post-war stained-glass and mirror sculptures in seventies interiors: Michel Martens 1921-2006 glass artist; on local art initiatives in the sixties: Helikon in Hasselt), and collaborated on research projects such as on the illustrations of Belgian 19th-century architecture historical publications, including early architectural and design photography, and the repertoire and research methodology of 20th-century churches in Flanders. Currently she is affiliated as a researcher with the KU Leuven Department of Architecture (research group Architecture Interiority and Inhabitation) and the University of Antwerp Faculty of Design Sciences (research group Craftsmanship and Design Cultures). She is Vice-President of Docomomo Belgium, a non-profit organization for DOcumentation and COnservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the MOdern Movement and co-founder as well as chair of the Docomomo International Scientific Committee on Interior Design. Dr. Böröcz is also a jury member for the Flemish Ministry of Culture Decree on the Arts (Kunstendecreet). Her interest fields are interiors and design issues in the context of heritage conservation, craftsmanship and higher education in the 19th- and 20th-century.


Location: Balassi Institute - Treurenberg 10, 1000 Brussels


Registration: HERE



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