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Charles R. Lamb, photo by Doris Ulmann

Charles R. Lamb, photo by Doris Ulmann

Recently I photographed the eagle lectern at Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston.  That day I had grown impatient with color and switched to black and white.  And thankfully so because  the play of light and shadows across the bird’s form revealed wonderful details. That lectern, original to the historic landmark (1877), was designed by Charles R. Lamb of J & R Lamb Studios of New York.

J & R Lamb Studios, established by brothers Joseph and Richard Lamb in 1857 and still in operation today, is most well-known for its stained glass creations. In fact, the company’s artists produced designs for a range of furnishings, metalwork and interior architecture as well.  Charles Lamb (1860-1942), son of Joseph, left school at 16 to join his father and uncle at the studio.  He would eventually take over management of the company.

Design drawing for metalwork: Chiro chalice with grapevines

Design drawing for metalwork: Chiro chalice with grapevines, by Charles R. Lamb

His brother Frederick Stymetz Lamb would become head designer and oversee the studio’s artists who included Charles Lamb’s wife, Ella Condie Lamb.  Charles’s daughter Katherine Lamb Tait would become head designer after WWII.

Katherine Lamb Tait

Katherine Lamb Tait

Over the course of his individual career, Charles Lamb would focus on urban planning and help pioneer the concept of City Beautiful.  Most of the short biographies I found describe him as an innovator with ideas ahead of their time.  Though during his professional life, he enabled the creation of much bright beauty, the latter part of his life may have been a bit dark. On February 22, 1942 he passed away at his home, Lamb’s Lane, in Cresskill, NJ. He was 82.

Design drawing for stained glass tondo window "The Lamb on Mount Zion and Four-Square City of New Jerusalem" showign lamb with and elaborate detailing including grape/leaf border and Jerusalem/architectural motif

Design drawing for stained glass window “The Lamb on Mount Zion and Four-Square City of New Jerusalem” showing lamb with and elaborate detailing including grape/leaf border and Jerusalem/architectural motif

In 2003 and 2004, the Library of Congress acquired nearly 2500 drawings and sketches as well business records and photographs from the Lamb Studios.  They are accessible to the public via this link: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/lamb/.  An incredible resource for artists and historians.

Design drawing for two stained glass windows with grapevine vegetal design

Design drawing for two stained glass windows with grapevine vegetal design

Sources & Additional Reading

J & R Lamb Studios

Lamb Studios Archive at Library of Congress

Lamb Studios History by Barea Lamb Seeley

City Beautiful Movement

Corning Museum of Glass – Historical Perspectives: Katherine Lamb Tait

Charles R. Lamb image courtesy of Doris Ulmann Photographic Collection, 1915-1925, University of Kentucky

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Close-up of the eagle lectern in the sanctuary at Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston.

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