Detail from stained glass window, The Resurrection, by John La Farge (1902) at Trinity Church in the City of Boston.
Detail from stained glass window, The Resurrection, by John La Farge (1902) at Trinity Church in the City of Boston.
There is no vessel in which I will not try to plant seeds. Or a seedling. Maybe a bulb. As a reminder that spring is coming, and to give myself a bit of peace of mind, I’ve decided to do some planting this weekend. I’ve yet to decide what this mug will hold. If it stays in the kitchen, it has to hold something edible. We’ll see … I may sip tea from it as I decide its fate.
The design of the mug was inspired by John La Farge and his decoration of Trinity Church in Boston. The geometric pattern is an adaptation of stained glass found on one of the interior doors. The sun was shining bright the day of the photo. The final pattern was translated onto a mug, magnet, and bookmark that can be purchased at the shop at Trinity Church. You can learn more about La Farge and his decoration on one of the superb guided tours. More information available here: http://trinitychurchboston.org/visit/tours
Posted in Inspiration, Uncategorized, tagged architecture, art, beauty, churches, colors, design, Inspiration, Photography, religious art, sacred spaces, stained glass windows on January 23, 2017| Leave a Comment »
When walking toward St. Paul Church, the exterior conveys a sense of simplicity as well as sturdiness, which makes sense given that the building’s design is romanesque in style. Its red brick facade blends into the surrounding historic landscape of Cambridge, MA. As it is an active Catholic church, I knew I had a short window of time to take photos before the midday mass. I felt like I had prepared myself to be focused in my photography by reading the in-depth online building tour found on the church website. Still, reading the words can never really prepare one for the actual firsthand experience of stepping into a sacred space.
As noted on the website, “An oblong hall is divided by matching rows of columns, surmounted by a barrel-vaulted ceiling and rounded arches. Since the weight is supported by the walls, the windows are small. St. Paul’s, designed by architect Edward Graham, is modeled after the Church of San Zeno Maggiore in Verona, Italy.”
I was ready to deal with “small windows.” I was caught off guard by the beauty of the encompassing friezes and statues.
Eventually my attention did return to the windows, of course. There are three stained glass windows near the choir stalls including John the Baptist, St. Elizabeth (his mother) and St. John the Evangelist.
The windows are narrow but their content looms large like these windows tucked in an alcove.
There are 10 windows in the lower part of the nave patterned after Renaissance images of the saints …
… and windows up high. Way up high.
These upper story windows were hardest to see but they glowed in the late morning light.
The church is an unexpected riot of color softened by the surrounding wood and marble. I’ve passed by the church for many years without ever stepping inside. I’m grateful to the staff for allowing me entry to photograph this very special place. You can read more about the interior of this historic building and find links for more information about its parish activities here: http://stpaulparish.org/building-tour/
At Trinity Church in the City of Boston, there is the stained glass window, Faith, by Burlison & Grylls of London, installed in 1877-1878. It was given in memory of Charles Hook Appleton and Isabella Mason by their teenaged daughters Julia and Marian Alice, known as The Appleton Sisters. The two sisters were extremely close. They lived together on Beacon Street and purchased adjoining property in Lenox, MA.
Eventually, the oldest daughter Julia would meet and marry noted architect Charles McKim, a colleague and friend of the artist John La Farge. Sister Alice would marry George Von Lengerke Meyer. As did many families of their social circle the McKims traveled extensively and often throughout Europe. In Venice they visited the galleries and in that city one of Julia’s favorite paintings was Titian’s Presentation of the Virgin, 1534-1538.
In 1887, Julia would unexpectedly die during childbirth. The grieving McKim, along with sister Alice, would commission John La Farge to create a window in Julia’s memory. La Farge would select as focus a small portion of Titian’s large canvas. The window would be designed and completed within five months.
The window depicts a young girl climbing steps and symbolizes Julia’s climb toward heaven. Below this image and considered separate from the story is the image of an angel playing a musical instrument. It is a spectacular window at any time of day but especially when the sun is shining just right through the opalescent and painted glass. For this series of images, that perfect time was approximately 1pm on a sunny day.
La Farge’s early sketch can be found at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the actual window is located on the south wall of Trinity Church located in Boston’s Copley Square.
Sources & Additional Reading
Posted in Inspiration, tagged architecture, art, David's Charge to Solomon, Edward Burne-Jones, george minot dexter, history, Inspiration, Phillips Brooks, Photography, religious art, stained glass windows, storytelling, William Morris on November 16, 2016| Leave a Comment »
In time for the holidays, at the gift shop located at Trinity Church in Copley Square, you will soon find items featuring one of the most striking and provocative images that I have ever taken … probably because the source of the image is so striking and provocative. I think of them as angels though they are harpists robed in white in one corner of the stained glass window, David’s Charge to Solomon, by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris & Co.
The women stand in a gallery at the rear of King David’s throne as the aged King delivers his charge to young Prince Solomon, and resting upon the King’s knees are the plans of the future Temple that he will not live to see. The window was presented to Trinity Church in the City of Boston by Frederic Dexter in memory of his father George Minot Dexter (1802-1872). As described in an 1888 church description, “the design is considered especially appropriate as Mr. Dexter lived but just long enough to see the plans of the new church completed and the work begun.”
George Minot Dexter was member of a prominent New England family that traced its roots to England and Ireland. It was a family of farmers, merchants, ministers, doctors and politicians. Dexter would become an architect and civil engineer. In 1836, he was commissioned to design the houses for Boston’s Pemberton Square and all of the accompanying ironwork. Today, 1300 of his architectural drawings for 85 different projects can be found at the Boston Athenaeum, in a building he would help to erect between 1847-1849.
In 1863 Dexter, then senior warden of Trinity Church, would call upon Phillips Brooks. Brooks, the descendant of several New England families of note, was a young minister attracting great attention as he served a Philadelphia parish. The young minister was in demand by many parishes across the nation and Trinity Church was especially active in its attempt to acquire him. It would take six years, in 1869, before Brooks would accept the call.
The church at that time was located on Summer Street in downtown Boston. Forward thinking, Brooks determined that it was time for the church to move to a new location, Boston’s Back Bay. Land had been bought and a building committee had already been formed when Boston’s Great Fire of 1872 destroyed the Summer Street church.
Dexter served on the building committee that selected the design of architect Henry Hobson Richardson. The building, which revolutionized American architecture, would be constructed between 1872-1877. Dexter would not live to see the building’s consecration in February 1877. He died November 26, 1872.
In addition to what has been referred to as The Dexter Window, his service to his church is also featured on a wall tablet, with the inscription by Honorable Robert C. Winthrop. It is located in the North Transept. Winthrop refers to Dexter’s self-sacrificing nature and how he remained “active to the last in good works and particularly in his tender care for the interest of the living and the remains of the dead during the trying scenes which attended the burning of our old house of worship in Summer St …”
He refers to the fact that beneath the Summer Street church was a crypt with family vaults. That crypt was laid bare by the destruction of the building overhead. Dexter would tend to those remains until he lost his life. In a letter to his friend Miss Mitchell, Phillips Brooks would write:
If you have the opportunity to tour Trinity Church, you’ll notice not only magnificent stained glass windows like David’s Charge to Solomon but also wonderfully decorated tablets with words that provide just a glimpse into the lives of people who considered that space their home. Well worth taking a moment to read. Enjoy!
Sources, Additional Reading and Opportunities
The Garden Square of Boston by Phebe S. Goodman
Trinity Church in the City of Boston has produced a new guidebook that highlights and explores the art and architectural features of this historic gem. The 48-pages feature information about the principal makers of the building, its design and construction which primarily took place between 1872-1877, interior and exterior decorations, and much more. It is a visual treat with reproductions of original sketches, early watercolor paintings, as well as interior and exterior images by many fine local photographers. I am honored to have two photos in this book including this detail from John La Farge’s Purity stained glass window.
As noted at the end of the publication, the guidebook is dedicated to Edward Earl Duffy (1960-2012), a Trinity Church parishioner and tour guide who loved the building’s art and architectural legacy. The book is available for $11.95 in the church gift shop. Enjoy!
Posted in Inspiration, tagged architecture, art, beauty, faith, Inspiration, Jewish history, judaism, Old Testament, stained glass windows, storytelling, Sumter, synagogue, temple, travel on October 6, 2016| 8 Comments »
While traveling in Sumter, South Carolina it was my pleasure to visit the Temple Sinai, founded as a Reform Jewish Congregation. The history of Sumter’s Jewish community dates back to 1815. The first Jews who settled in Sumter were Sephardic and came from Charleston, SC. The current congregation was formed in 1895 by the merger of the Hebrew Cemetery Society and the Sumter Hebrew Benevolent Society. Construction of the congregration’s present temple was begun in 1912 and completed in 1913.
A feature article in the March 1913 Sumter newspaper The Watchman and Southron notes “The Temple is situated on the corner of Church street and Hampton avenue and is an imposing structure of red brick with domed roof … The architectural lines are simple, but the proportions are so good and so well harmonized that the general impression is one of beauty, allied to strength and permanence. As impressive as is the exterior of the Temple, it is the interior that is its chief beauty and glory …”
In terms of architectural style the brick building is Moorish Revival. Eleven stained glass windows grace the interior. Ten of the windows are 5 feet wide by 20 feet high and their shape mimic the building’s moorish towers, each a tall window illustrating a story surmounted by a half-window with further decorative detail. The eleventh window is round and is located high on a back wall. While the specifics of the window designer and makers are elusive, the windows are thought to be handmade in Germany. Installation began in 1912 as indicated in a local newspaper article from September 1912, “The beautiful stained glass windows of Temple Sinai have arrived and are being placed in position.” One month earlier, the same publication had noted, “The work is winding up on the new Jewish synagogue in this city and it will be only a short time now before the remodeled Temple Sinai will be one of the most beautiful places of worship in the city.”
At age 95, Sumter native Robert Moses, a descendant of one of the first Jewish families to settle in Charleston and then in Sumter, is one of the last active members of Temple Sinai. As part of an educational presentation, he describes the windows as late Victorian in style, with rounded tops and interlacing borders giving them an eastern/Moorish look. Known as drapery glass due to the folding of the glass to add depth and color, the brilliant blues have cobalt added and gold was added to brighten the reds.
Each window depicts a scene from the Old Testament including as described in a 1913 newspaper article:
The Test of Faith, involving Abraham and Isaac …
The Blessing – Isaac Blesses Jacob …
Jacob’s Dream …
Vision of Moses when he sees the burning bush …
Moses on Sinai with the Ten Commandments …
Moses on Nebo overlooking the promised land which he is forbidden to enter …
Moses Delivering Laws to Joshua …
Samuel Before Eli …
Elijah in Solitude …
David the Shepherd Boy …
and Solomon at the Dedication of the Temple.
Members of the Moses family were kind enough to allow me entrance into the Temple to photograph details of the windows and share just a bit of the history of people and place. The windows of this place are unique for their pictoral illustration.
Temple Sinai is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, or to inquire how you can help preserve this historic structure, contact Temple Sinai, 11-13 Church Street, P. O. Box 1673, Sumter, South Carolina 29151 or call (803) 773-2122.
Sources and Additional Reading
(1) “House of Worshop of Jewish Congregation to be Dedicated on March 28th, ” The Watchman and Southron, March 8, 1913.
(2) The Watchman and Southron, September 21, 1912.
(3) The Watchman and Southron, August 10, 1912.