Luminosity of the East

Materiality, Provenance and Reception of Islamic Coloured Glass Windows in the West

This project focuses on Islamic coloured glass windows (qamarīya) of the 17th to 19th centuries within Western museum collections and at World’s Fairs, their popularity with art dealers and collectors during the colonial age, as well as their reception in Western art and architecture during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Despite the relevance of the topic to the study of Islamic architecture and the significance of Islamic coloured glass windows in revitalising Western stained glass, the research questions raised within this project have hitherto received little attention. Based on a comprehensive corpus of original plaster latticework windows with inlays in coloured glass, neo-Islamic replicas, and historical sources, the transdisciplinary project team will undertake art historical classifications and contextualisations as well as material analysis, and study other important issues such as the often unknown or questionable provenance of Islamic coloured glass windows, the trade and transfer routes and the ways of reception in Western art and architecture. In doing so, topics such as the availability of Islamic architectural fragments throughout the globalised 19th century and their commercialisation on the art market will be critically examined and strategies for dealing with artworks from a colonial context will be developed.

Project Team

PI: PD Dr. Francine Giese

Project Partners 

Dr. Sarah Keller, Dr. Sophie Wolf


Dr. Sarah Tabbal / Franziska Niemand M.A.

Advisory Board

Prof. Dr. Doris Behrens-Abouseif, Dr. Elke Pflugradt-Abdel Aziz, Dr. Daniel Parello

Cooporation Partners

Université de Fribourg; Prof. Dr. Mercedes Volait (CNRS/InVisu); Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (Kunsthistorisches Institut)

Vitrocentre Romont Au Château P.O. Box 150 CH-1680 Romont Phone +41 (0)26 652 10 95 Fax +41 (0)26 652 49 17 cr:vasb:ivgebprager.pu