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Posts Tagged ‘religious art’

eyeofgod

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. 

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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In a church, I walked into a room to photograph a specific set of stained glass windows that were at eye level, and when I turned to walk out I happened to look up and this is what I saw hanging on the wall. I don’t yet know the name of painter or painting. That research continues, and if you have any incites please let me know. I’m not a formal student of fine arts but I can imagine that there are layers upon layers of meaning in the choice of colors, the flowers shown, etc. More information to follow in the near future I hope.

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