Tree of Jesse Window: The Reclining Jesse, King David, and Scenes from the Life of Jesus

Date: 1280–1300

Geography: Made in Swabia, Germany

Culture: German

Medium: Pot-metal glass, vitreous paint, and lead

Dimensions: Overall: 154 1/4 x 14 3/4 x 1/2 in. (391.8 x 37.5 x 1.3 cm)
panel a (Jesse): 24 x 14 in. (61 x 35.6 cm)
panel b (David): 25 1/4 x 14 in. (64.1 x 35.6 cm)
panel c (Presentation in the Temple): 25 1/4 x 13 3/4 in. (64.1 x 34.9 cm)
panel d (Last Supper): 25 3/8 x 14 in. (64.5 x 35.6 cm)
panel e (Crucifixion): 25 3/8 x 13 3/4 in. (64.5 x 34.9 cm)
panel f (Ascension): 26 3/4 x 13 3/4 in. (67.9 x 34.9 cm)

Classification: Glass-Stained

Credit Line: Frederick C. Hewitt Fund, 1922

Accession Number: 22.25a–f


The Book of Isaiah presents Jesse, an ancestor of Christ, as the root of a great tree, a symbol of his illustrious progeny. In this thirteenth-century stained-glass panel from Swabia in southern Germany, Jesse lies asleep at the bottom, and the tree rises like a dream from his side. In branches coiling from the trunk, prophets hold scrolls that foretell the coming of Christ. King David holds a harp in the roundel immediately above Jesse, and the four upper roundels contain scenes from the life of Christ, from bottom to top, the Presentation in the Temple, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Ascension. The vertical trunk unifies the panel and seems to merge with the wood of the cross in the Crucifixion scene.