If €older€ means right after glass was discovered marking the start of glassmaking history, then the oldest stained glass could be about more than 5,500 years old. Yet, as is revealed in the history of glass and glassworks, it was not until 950 to 1240 AD that the first documented evidence of €un-traceried€ the windows supported by stout and tough iron frames appeared and were found installed at Chartres Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral in France and England, respectively. Given that the conventional installations were in churches, cathedrals, convents, monasteries, mosques, synagogues and temples; it was thought to be an architectural feature associated only with religious buildings and infrastructure.
In later times, however, the windows started appearing in academic and public buildings, becoming more and more picturesque as both aesthetics and workmanship improved. Louis Comfort Tiffany made enormous contribution to the development of its art and industry as a creative and imaginative architectural and interior design visionary. His techniques in €glass staining€ produced the most exquisite materials used that successfully did away with painted glass whose colour chipped off or faded over time. He was also responsible for the deviation of the design and use which seemed exclusive for windows when he created 3D artworks, especially focusing on his Tiffany lamps or Tiffany lampshades extensively marketed by Tiffany Studios during his and later times. Today's it sculptural artworks are inspired by and offshoots of these 3D creations by Tiffany.
Tiffany's techniques were lost after his death but were independently rediscovered and improved upon by later stained glass arts and works enthusiasts and practitioners. That sort of revived the popularity of the windows with improved design particularly as decorative €illuminated wall decor€. Today's modern stained glass crept into homes and offices and are also used as expensive decorative atrium wall-off, cabinet doors, room or space dividers, sculptural art works, wall panelling and even as custom-designed shower screens. Modern technologies applied on stained glass manufacture and computer-aided design easily enhanced the aesthetic value of it. They also facilitated mass production and replication for today's more demanding vast market.
The soothing effect and sophisticated beauty of modern stained glass has caught the attention of discriminating customers and users that it is now an architectural and designer's mainstream material and medium.