Posts Tagged ‘Trinity Church in the City of Boston’

“The influence of education, or of the want of education, on the welfare of our land can have no territorial limits or boundary lines. … Colleges in South Carolina or Tennessee or Virginia are United States colleges, and are as important to the welfare of the country as Yale or Harvard or Columbia.  Illiteracy and ignorance are no mere local dangers, whether among whites or blacks.  They are dangers to law and order and true liberty everywhere; and he that does most to eradicate them anywhere may claim no second place on the role of a comprehensive patriotism.”

Robert C. Winthrop

Robert C. Winthrop (1809-1894)

In 1892, two years before his death, Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, spoke these rather timeless words at the annual meeting of the Peabody Trustees. For twenty-five years he had been President of the Peabody Education Fund, a philanthropic enterprise established by his friend George Peabody in 1867 to promote education initiatives in the post-Civil War southern states.  It was a fund created with the best of intentions that had short and long-term positive impacts as well as controversies. I learned about the fund and Robert C. Winthrop after I photographed details from Hope, a stained glass window in the north transept of Trinity Church.

Detail from stained glass window, Hope, by Burlison & Grylls of Londong, 1877-1878

Detail from stained glass window, Hope, by Burlison & Grylls of London, 1877-1878

Most often after I photograph stained glass windows, I research the story depicted in the window or research the designers of the window.  But this time I was curious about who had commissioned the artwork.  In an 1888 document providing an historical and descriptive account of the parish and the Copley Square building, the author writes,  “This window is typical of Hope, the motto of the Winthrop arms.  The greater part of the window is occupied by two angels, each of whom is holding a scroll.”  And then at the bottom there is a Latin quotation signifying, “A surviving son to the best of parents.

Details from Hope

Details from stained glass window, Hope, by Burlison & Grylls of London, 1877-1878

The son was Robert C. Winthrop and you can read more about him via this detailed Wikipedia article, and in this Mass Historical Society article about interactions between Winthrop and Frederick Douglass.  As for the window designed by Burlison & Grylls …

I feel like I have a greater appreciation of its beauty and look forward to continuing to photograph and share its details.  Until then, learn more about Trinity Church and its art and architecture at http://trinitychurchboston.org/art-history

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More details from the interior of Trinity Church in the City of Boston. Here we have a close up of the messenger in the stained glass window, The Resurrection, by John LaFarge.

In the March 1902 issue of The Church Standard, the window was described in this way:  “A beautiful memorial window has been added to the group in the north transept of Trinity Church.  It tells the story of the first easter morning.  In the background the purple clouds of morning are hanging, growing lighter as they seem to touch the low lying hills to the rear of the empty sepulchre, and their tints show the approaching dawn.  The flowing white garments of the risen Christ reflect the purple tints of the darker clouds … Upon the ground, reclining his head against the tomb, is the sleeping guard whose uniform makes a bright touch of coloring against the sombre hues of the walls.  A messenger nearby … [his] graceful garments of crimson and gold stand out in deep and inviting contrast.”

That same month, a reporter for the Boston Evening Transcript newspaper also notes the color: “The color is in the artist’s strongest and most brilliant vein, and is especially remarkable for its aerial tones of graduated blues and greens … In no stained glass work by LaFarge has he carried his extraordinary personal sense of color to a more complete measure of depth and significance.  It will, therefore, rank among his most important and characteristic work in this congenial medium.”  The window was commissioned by Charles A. Welch in memory of his wife Mary Love Boott Welch who died in 1899.

I’ve had the opportunity to photograph this window several times over the years.  But this particular day was special.  A friend had let me borrow her tripod and another friend had unexpectedly allowed me to access a place not often accessible so I could have new vantage points where I could focus on details I’d never focused on before … like five toes on a foot.

Of course, the whole is magnificent as well.

Whatever one’s vantage point, it is a lovely window to behold.  Learn more here:  Trinity Church Art & History

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… particularly at certain times of day is the altar inside Trinity Church in Copley Square.  This altar is not part of the original construction and furnishings that took place between 1872-1877.  As described in a 1952 publication, The Story of Trinity Church in the City of Boston, by Rev. Edward Dutcher Romig, it was designed by Charles D. Maginnis as part of a 20th Century redesign of the chancel.  He writes of a giant block of Montenelle marble quarried near Trieste, and covered with carved faces and inserted borders of Venetian gold glass and colored glass mosaics. “The peacocks on the face of the altar symbolize eternal life, and the grapevine represents the wine used at the Communion Service. Thus the whole composition tells us that Christians who devoutly partake of the Lord’s Supper share in Christ’s promise of eternal life.”

You can learn more in a variety ways including Art & Architecture tours.  Another excellent resource is the book The Makers of Trinity available at the Trinity Book Shop.


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A small, powerful detail in a corner of the stained glass window, David’s Charge to Solomon, at Trinity Church in Copley Square. A little dark but I hope to work with the image over time.  Meanwhile, learn more about Trinity Church, its history and architectural tours via this link. Have a good weekend. 😉

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These are the hands of St. Paul, St. Peter and Jesus as painted by John La Farge in the murals for Trinity Church.  I was inspired to create this compilation by the moving images and words in Steve McCurry’s recent post, The Language of Hands. I may write more about hands in the future, but for now, I hope you enjoy these images.

St. Paul’s hands

St. Peter, the key in his hand

Jesus with Nicodemus, hands resting

Hands of Christ and Woman at the Well

St. Paul Mural by John La Farge, 1877

St. Paul

The Visit of Nicodemus to Christ by John La Farge, 1878

The Visit of Nicodemus to Christ


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statue of St. Paul on the west porch of Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston

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Detail from Purity by John La Farge, 1885

Detail from Purity by John La Farge

Designed and executed by artists and stained glass manufacturers like John La Farge, Clayton and Bell, Burlison and Grylls, and others, these particular stained glass windows at Trinity Church in the City of Boston are “hidden gems.”

Detail 2 from Purity by John La Farge, 1885

Detail 2 from Purity by John La Farge

They are located in the Parish House. In part, due to renovation activities at different times over the past 100 years, some of the windows are now in stairwells, like Purity as well as John Hardman and Company’s Woods Window

The Woods Window, executed by John Hardman and Company

The Woods Window, executed by John Hardman and Company

others are in restricted areas like Ephphatha by Burlison and Grylls …

Detail from Ephphatha by Burlison and Grylls

Detail from Ephphatha by Burlison and Grylls


and others in areas dedicated to use by parishoners of all ages like The Sunday-School Windows by Clayton & Bell.  

They are not windows accessible as part of a traditional art and architecture tour of the sanctuary, but it has been my pleasure this summer to roam the halls a bit with my camera and to share this glimpse of details from some of the windows. Postcards and prints, and information about tours, are available at the Trinity Book Shop.

Interior of Trinity Church in the City of Boston, Copley Square

Interior of Trinity Church in the City of Boston, Copley Square


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