Jane Hayward (1918–1994)

An encounter with Jane Hayward was never for the faint of heart. Often disquietingly direct, stubborn, and indignant, Jane was also passionate, relentless, and focused. Simply put—she founded the study of stained glass in the United States. She was a pioneer.

Jane Hayward initially trained as an artist at the University of Pennsylvania and served as a technical draftswoman during World War II. This early instruction fueled a long-standing affinity with the artist as creator and technician (CV US I, vol. 1, p. 10). Indeed, the prominent drafting table in her office at The Cloisters bore witness to her studio background. While it was rarely used, it was the only flat surface in the room not piled high with books, journals, article drafts, and maps. Following the war, she turned to the history of art. She studied with Sumner Crosby at Yale, writing her dissertation (1958) on the medieval stained glass at Angers Cathedral. Crosby charged her with organizing the American Committee of the Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi, the burgeoning international scholarly organization dedicated to the study and preservation, initially, of medieval stained glass. Throughout the 1960s, as faculty at Connecticut College and as curator at the Lyman Allyn Museum, she traveled the US, cataloguing panels of European stained glass in both public and private collections. By the late 1960s when she joined the staff of The Cloisters—the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval branch—she was widely respected as an international authority on both medieval and American stained glass.

Hayward organized two groundbreaking exhibitions at the Metropolitan: Stained Glass Windows of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (1972) and Radiance and Reflection: Medieval Art from the Raymond Pitcairn Collection (1982); she was a major contributor to important exhibitions like The Year 1200 (1970); The Secular Spirit: Life and Art at the End of the Middle Ages (1975); Saint-Denis in the Time of Abbot Suger (1981); and Gothic and Renaissance Art in Nuremberg, 1300–1550 (1986). For nearly thirty years, she proved to be a formidable and savvy acquisitor for the Museum. By her death, the Metropolitan could claim a world-class collection of medieval stained glass with near-encyclopedic holdings. Not only did masterpieces of early thirteenth-century glass painting from the cathedrals of Soissons and Rouen enter the collection under her aegis, but she incisively added choice examples of border ornament and grisaille—frequently overlooked elements in the art of stained glass.

As Michael Cothren acknowledged in his preface to Hayward’s Corpus volume for the Metropolitan Museum, Jane came to understand that it was impossible to personally survey and publish all the medieval and Renaissance stained glass in American collections. She broadened the scope of the American Corpus Vitrearum Committee to involve younger scholars while also training a cadre of students, chiefly through Columbia University (CV US I, vol. 1, p. 9). She was an inspired teacher. At her best, Hayward’s lectures were models of clarity, insight, and breadth. Fundamental to her approach was the importance of the architectural context. Students in her seminars were required to make double-barreled presentations; surveying the building was not just a prelude to examining the stained glass in question. Presenting the building and its stained glass were separate discussions and carried equal weight. Thus, the overwhelming number of architectural views in Jane’s collection of slides, published here by the Index of Christian Art, should not be surprising. Her dream was to create a means for art historians and students, as well as enthusiasts, to be able to study stained glass—especially from this side of the Atlantic. Hayward’s yearly research trips were also photography treks, accompanied by her faithful Leica camera and a massive telephoto lens. Jane’s return to The Cloisters each October was heralded by a stack of yellow Kodak slide boxes left triumphantly on the librarian’s desk. Hayward’s passion for the art form, her rigor, her determination, and her extraordinary scope of knowledge informs the making of this image collection. And even though she died before the digital revolution, Jane would have been gratified by the generous publication of her slides in this way, and by its implicit recognition of the significant role played by stained-glass windows in the corpus of medieval art.

Mary B. Shepard
University of Arkansas-Fort Smith

Selected Bibliography

English and French Medieval Stained Glass in the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, rev. and ed. by Mary B. Shepard and Cynthia Clark, 2 vols. Corpus Vitrearum US I, London, Turnhout, and New York: Harvey Miller Publishers and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003

with Louis Grodecki, “Les Vitraux de la cathédrale d’Angers,” Bulletin monumental, vol. 124 (1966), pp. 7-67.

“Stained-Glass Windows: An Exhibition of Glass in the Metropolitan Museum’s Collection,” Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s. 30/3 (1971–72), pp. 11-52.

“The Lost Noah Window from Poitiers,” Gesta, vol. 20 (1981), pp. 129-39.

with Walter Cahn, et al., Radiance and Reflection: Medieval Art from the Raymond Pitcairn Collection, exh. cat., New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982.

“Two Grisaille Glass Panels from Saint-Denis at The Cloisters,” in ed. Elizabeth C. Parker with Mary B. Shepard, The Cloisters: Studies in Honor of the Fiftieth Anniversary (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992), pp. 302-25.

with Meredith Lillich, “The Church of Saint-Urbain at Troyes and Its Glazing Program, Gesta, vol. 37 (1998), pp. 165-77.

For more on Hayward, see Michael W. Cothren and Mary B. Shepard, ed., “Essays on Stained Glass in Memory of Jane Hayward (1918-1994),” Gesta, vol. 37 (1998) and Marilyn Stokstad, “Jane Hayward (1918–1994): ‘Radiance and Reflection’” in Jane Chance, ed., Women Medievalists and the Academy, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2005, ch. 56.

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