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Posts Tagged ‘faith-based art’

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Installed between 1872 and 1957, the stained glass windows of First Church in Cambridge, Congregational “do not belong to a comprehensive scheme, nor to a single style, subject or studio. They are a melange. Each must be viewed in its own light.

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The Kimball/Rice Window by Horace J. Phipps and Company (1918) and The Willet Stained Glass Studios, Inc. (1960)

Those are the words of Pastor Allen Happe in the Foreword of the book, A Sympony of Color, by Patricia H. Rodgers. The book, published in 1990, provides a brief overview of the church’s 350 year history, and then focuses on the evolution of the physical building now present at 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA. It has been my pleasure to visit the building several times at night to attend concerts. Of course, I could not see the windows but  I was intrigued by their size and the lead outlines. Recently I made contact and was given permission to visit and photograph the windows. It was a cloudy day but there was just enough to light to illuminate the interior beauty.

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Detail from the Kimball/Rice Window by Horace J. Phipps and Company (1918) and The Willet Stained Glass Studios, Inc. (1960)

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Detail from the Kimball/Rice Window by Horace J. Phipps and Company (1918) and The Willet Stained Glass Studios, Inc. (1960)

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Detail from the Kimball/Rice Window by Horace J. Phipps and Company (1918) and The Willet Stained Glass Studios, Inc. (1960)

In her book, Rodgers identifies at least six studios whose work is represented including the Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company, The Willet Stained Glass Studios, Inc., Horace J. Phipps and Company, Reynolds, Francis and Rohnstock, Arthur Murray Dallin and Cummings Studios. There are several windows for which the studio is unknown. One of those windows is the Hart Window.

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Produced by an American glass company in 1901, it is composed of layers of opalescent glass. According to Rodger’s research, the windows was restored in 1987 and at that time it was discovered that there were up to three layers of glass in places.

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There are several striking windows by Tiffany Studios including St. Catherine of Alexander (1908). Catherine represents saintliness, beauty, and learning. This window, the last to be installed by Tiffany for First Church, was given in memory of young woman who was a noted scholar and dedicated to her missionary work.

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The Catherine window is situated between several non-figural grisaille windows.

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There are at least eight Tiffany Studios windows present.

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Detail from They Shall Be Mine, Saith the Lord, 1895

Perhaps one of the most captivating windows overall is Tiffany’s The Four Elements, 1895.

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Designed by W. Frederick Wilson for the Tiffany Studio. As Rodgers notes in her book from a period newspaper, the window apparently has over one hundred thousand separate pieces of glass and one half tone of lead and solder used to hold the pieces in position. They are the largest set of windows at First Church.

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The robes of the largest angels, representing earth, air, fire and water, are made from drapery glass.

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Tiffany Studios closed around 1928. Windows installed after this time reflect a different aesthetic as in the Bancroft Window, 1929, produced by the studio of Reynolds, Francis and Rohnstock.

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First Church in Cambridge, Congregational is quite the expansive space with a long history, and it is a welcoming place. I’m grateful for the opportunity to visit this lovely place and share the beauty of its windows.

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Learn more about this church online at http://www.firstchurchcambridge.org/

Sources & Additional Reading

https://www.amazon.com/symphony-color-Stained-glass-Church/dp/0962619604

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Detail from opalescent chancel window, Cummings Studios, 1954

 

 

 

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