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Posts Tagged ‘religious art’

Like his big brother Phillips Brooks in Boston, the Reverend Frederick Brooks was making a name for himself inside and outside of the pulpit doing good works in Cleveland, Ohio.  In 1874 he returned to the Boston area to find a teacher for a school that he had founded. In the course of his travels, on a stormy night on September 15, he left a disabled train in East Cambridge and decided to walk along the bridge. As his father recounted, “The night being dark, he fell through the draw and was drowned. He was thirty-two years of age. The body was not found until the 20th in the Charles River. Funeral services were held September 24 …” In Cleveland, Frederick Brooks had served as rector of St. Paul’s, a prominent church.  And that may be why Trinity Church vestryman Charles J. Morrill. if he had a hand in the selection of theme, chose to honor the memory of Frederick Brooks by funding a memorial window depicting Three Scenes in St. Paul’s Life. The window is located on the northern wall of the nave, designed by Henry Holiday of London, 1878.

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The story begins with a young Saul sitting with his teacher Gamaliel.

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The center picture represents Saul’s conversion to Christianity.

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The final image is of Saul, now Saint Paul, preaching to the people of Athens. As a whole the window is almost overwhelming … which makes sense given that it tries to capture one of the most complicated life stories in “just” three scenes. What is it I always say? See for yourself when you have the opportunity.

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https://trinitychurchboston.org/visit/tours

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It wasn’t quite one of my “the door was open and I peeked in” adventures. It was more, it was a Sunday, the church doors were open and we were welcomed in and allowed to take pictures before the service began. Very inviting airy place with bright sun shining through colorful windows.

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http://firstchurchberkeley.org/

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Last year I had the pleasure of seeing firsthand the interior of Temple Sinai, home to a reform Jewish congregation in Sumter, South Carolina. Construction was completed in 1913 with the installation of a unique series of stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Tanakh. Along the walls, in beautiful drapery glass, you will find the stories of David, Moses, Elijah and more. At the time, the future of the temple was unclear. The congregation had dwindled over time.

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But one year later I am happy to share that through the hard work of members of the congregation, and of others, the temple will be preserved as an active place of worship. In addition, in partnership with the Sumter County Museum, a permanent exhibit is being developed onsite to share the Jewish history of Sumter and South Carolina. The past is being preserved even as a new path is being charted for a congregation that may indeed grow. All are welcome! Learn more about the temple, its activities and plans for the exhibit in this FAQ page by Elizabeth Moses, Museum Outreach and Education Coordinator.

http://www.sumtercountymuseum.org/templesinai/

You can support the development of the museum exhibit by donation in two ways:

  • Make checks payable to the Sumter County Museum, 122 N. Washington St., P.O. Box 1456, Sumter, SC, 29151, making note that the donation is for the temple museum exhibit, or give online at: www.sumtercountymuseum.org.
  • Make checks payable directly to Temple Sinai, P.O. Box 1763, Sumter, SC, 29151, making note that the donation is for the temple museum exhibit.

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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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Coming soon I will share words and images from my brief journey inside St. Paul Church in Cambridge, MA. These are photos of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist.

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Three years ago on this blog, I wrote about Henry Holiday’s depiction of the Transfiguration in the stained glass window located at Trinity Church in the City of Boston. At the time I was particularly interested in the position of the hands in his window though my research revealed to me that he was especially noted for his execution of drapery.

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With a new lens and new perspective I’ve been revisiting the window, and I begin to understand what I read about his work with cloth in glass.

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These images are from the top of the window. What’s amazing to me is that much of this detail you cannot see with the naked eye.

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And yet the whole of what you see from the ground is quite stunning.

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Read an earlier post here: https://wordsandimagesbycynthia.com/2013/10/07/holidays-tranfiguration/

View the window for yourself at Trinity Church: http://trinitychurchboston.org/art-and-architecture

 

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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. 

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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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