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Posts Tagged ‘Edward Burne-Jones’

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I’m quite pleased with the new travel thermos featuring the Purity stained glass window design. I’m a pretty happy go lucky person but every now and then even I need to add a bit of brightness to my life and I think this thermos fits! Available at the Trinity Church gift shop. If you’re not in Boston, and are interested in purchasing, send inquiries to artandarchitecture@trinitychurchboston.org. And in the works, new silk chiffon scarves inspired by Burne-Jones and William Morris …

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At least two variations on a theme are in production, the designs inspired by details from one of my favorite windows at Trinity Church, David’s Charge to Solomon. Soon to be available exclusively at the church gift shop.

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As for the rest of this day, back to paperwork (aargh!) and then out into the sunshine with my camera. More reflections upon water to view, squirrels and birds to chase down, and maybe even a church or two to be found with sunlit stained glass windows. We’ll see … Have a good day, folks!

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It has become an ongoing project to capture the angels amidst the green vines of the Edward Burne-Jones & William Morris windows at Trinity Church in the City of Boston. I’ve fallen a bit behind but now I’m back at it!

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See for yourself at Trinity Church: http://trinitychurchboston.org/visit/tours

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Hope by George Frederick Watts

In 1959, Martin Luther King Jr would open a sermon with these words about shattered dreams, “Our sermon today brings us face to face with one of the most agonizing problems of human experience. Very few, if any, of us are able to see all of our hopes fulfilled. So many of the hopes and promises of our mortal days are unrealized. Each of us, like Shubert, begins composing a symphony that is never finished. There is much truth in George Frederick Watts’ imaginative portrayal of Hope in his picture entitled Hope. He depicts Hope as seated atop our planet, but her head is sadly bowed and her fingers are plucking one unbroken harp string. Who has not had to face the agony of blasted hopes and shattered dreams’?

English painter George Frederick Watts (1817-1904) would paint the first of several versions of Hope in 1885. Its symbolism would prove very popular and over time it would be massively reproduced. I read that by the 1930s however his work fell out of fashion and major galleries like The Tate removed his work from permanent display. So I do wonder when, where and how Martin Luther King first saw Hope. I do know when a young Barack Obama learned of the painting. It was in 1990. Pastor Jeremiah Wright would deliver a sermon, The Audacity to Hope. Wright’s words would move the young student who would eventually rouse a whole nation (mostly) with a notion that he would call, The Audacity of Hope.

So where is hope these days? In part its a personal question that we each have to grapple with on any given day depending on what’s happening in our lives.

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Hope by Edward Burne-Jones, 1896

Watts and later his friend Edward Burne-Jones each painted variations of Hope during dark periods in their lives. For Watts that period included the death of his adopted daughter’s child. Burne-Jones had been commissioned by a wealthy American to paint a dancing figure but as he dealt with the death of his friend and colleague William Morris he asked if instead he might paint Hope. I think of hope as something you hold on to or reach out for. And sometimes it even settles around you like a warm blanket when you least expect it. Or, as Emily Dickinson wrote,

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Sources & Additional Reading

http://www.thekingcenter.org/archive/document/shattered-dreams

http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/Vol06Scans/July1962-March1963DraftofChapterX,ShatteredDreams.pdf

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/victorian-painting-g-f-watts-inspired-obama-harp-hope-article-1.358686

Watts Magazine, p.14+

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/42889

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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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I will not likely make my goal of photographing by Christmas day all eighteen Burne-Jones angels in the stained glass windows known as the Christmas Windows at Trinity Church in the City of Boston.  The logistics are just not going to work out.  But …

… it has been a delightful exercise.  As I review what I did accomplish, new ideas are forming.

I think I shall consider this attempt a “first draft.” We’ll see what unfolds in the new year. 😉

You can read more about this personal project here: https://wordsandimagesbycynthia.com/2015/11/02/as-for-those-angels/

You can view the gallery of angels here: https://photosbycynthia.smugmug.com/ArchitectureDesign/Burne-Jones-Angels/

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You can read more about this personal project here: https://wordsandimagesbycynthia.com/2015/11/02/as-for-those-angels/

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… they are Edward Burne-Jones angels.  Eighteen of them in a series of windows that are often referred to as the Christmas Windows, located inside Trinity Church in the City of Boston.  As I’ve written about before on this blog, these windows depict The Journey into Egypt, Worship of the Magi, and Wonder of the Shepherds.  The windows were designed by Burne-Jones and executed by William Morris in 1882.

Photographing these angels is very much a work in progress.  I’ve only captured eight so far and not all to my satisfaction.  British historian Fiona McCarthy once wrote what would Christmas be without a Burne-Jones angel.

Maybe that is the goal I can set for myself.  Before Christmas to have photographed all eighteen angels.  Wouldn’t that be something? We’ll see.  You know I’ll share if I succeed. 😉

Meanwhile, learn more about visiting Trinity Church and seeing the angels for yourself via this link: http://trinitychurchboston.org/art-history/tours

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