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Posts Tagged ‘architecture’

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Details from The Baptism, 1877, by Clayton & Bell, the first stained glass window in Trinity Church when it was consecrated in February 1877.

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See for yourself- trinitychurchboston.org/visit/tours

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ResurrectionbyLaFarge1902

I’ve been lucky enough to have traveled to quite a few churches around the world, to glimpse just a bit of their sacred and secular beauty, and I have to say at this moment in my life, John La Farge’s The Resurrection (1902) for Trinity Church in the City of Boston is one that moves me most. It has been a pleasure to work collaboratively with colleagues there and with design companies to identify ways to translate, if only in a tiny way, such beauty in stained glass to items that people might like to take home or share with others.

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I still love producing postcards and prints but I think this translation of the image onto a collectible oval glass ornament is especially striking given La Farge’s mastery of designing with the interplay of layered glass, paint and the effect of light always in mind. When you’re in the area, please see the window for yourself by visiting the church.  Learn more here: http://trinitychurchboston.org/visit/tours.  The oval ornament can be found in the church gift shop.

 

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Detail from stained glass window, The Resurrection, by John La Farge (1902) at Trinity Church in the City of Boston.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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I was ready to deal with “small windows.” I was caught off guard by the beauty of the encompassing friezes and statues.

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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.

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John the Baptist

 

The windows are narrow but their content looms large like these windows tucked in an alcove.

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There are 10 windows in the lower part of the nave patterned after Renaissance images of the saints …

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St. Jerome

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… and windows up high. Way up high.

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These upper story windows were hardest to see but they glowed in the late morning light.

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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/ 

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Detail from Presentation of the Virgin (after Titian) by John La Farge, 1888

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. 

Julia and Marian Alice Appleton

Julia and Marian Alice Appleton

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

Trinity Church Tours

http://library.bc.edu/lafargeglass/exhibits/show/descriptions/all-saints/trinity-boston

Presentation of the Virgin

early sketch by La Farge

 

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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.

Detail from David’s Charge to Solomon by Burne-Jones and Morris

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

Trinity Church Art & History Tour Information

The Garden Square of Boston by Phebe S. Goodman

http://cdm.bostonathenaeum.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15482coll1/id/839

Life and Letters of Phillips Brooks

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