Posts Tagged ‘Trinity Church’

All three postcards depict beautiful fine art details found at historic Trinity Church in the City of Boston and are available in the church Book ShopPeace, Be Still is also available online via this link.

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Bust of Dean Stanley at Trinity Church

I took the picture, I did the research and this is what I learned:  On Easter Monday in 1877, Rev. Phillips Brooks was given leave by his parish, Trinity Church in the City of Boston, to take a sojourn to Europe.  While in England, he spent time with Arthur Stanley, Dean of Westminster Abbey. Brooks was invited to preach at Westminster in July, and it is written that Dean Stanley listened with delight to a doctrine after his own heart.  Brooks would later share in a letter, “Last Sunday I preached for Mr. Stanley at his church in London, and William and I were much in the little man’s company while we were in his town.  He is very pleasant and entertaining, but much changed since his wife’s [Lady Augusta Stanley] death. He has grown old and fights hard to keep up an interest in things.”(1)

In the autumn of 1878, Dean Stanley traveled to America. In Boston he preached for the Rev. Phillips Brooks at Trinity Church.  Brooks would later write that no one who heard the benediction at the close of the service would ever forget it. “He had been but a few days in America. It was the first time he had looked an American congregation in the face. The church was crowded with men and women of whom he knew that to him they represented the New World. He was for a moment a representative of English Christianity. And as he spoke the solemn words, it was not a clergyman dismissing a congregation, it was the Old World blessing the New; it was England blessing America.  The voice trembled while it grew rich and deep, and took every man’s heart into the great conception of the act that filled itself.”

In 1881, following Dean Stanley’s death, Phillips Brooks would write a 12-page retrospective for The Atlantic Monthly.  In conclusion Brooks would highlight lessons of faith and good will he thought taught by Stanley’s life, and then end with these words:

“These lessons will be taught by many lives in many languages before the end shall come; but for many years years yet to come there will be men who will find not the least persuasive and impressive teachings of them in Dean Stanley’s life. The heavens will still be bright with stars, and younger men will never miss the radiance which they never saw. But for those who once watched for his light there will always be a special darkness in the heavens, where a star of special beauty went out when he died.” (3)

Miss Mary Grant, an eminent British sculptor and Stanley’s niece by marriage, would execute a memorial bust.  That bust would be given to Trinity Church to commemorate his visit.  It is located in an area that I believe is known as the baptistry.  His visage “stands upon a bracket of Sienna marble … beneath which is a tablet of Mexican onyx, on which is engraved a tribute by Robert C. Winthrop.” (4) And sitting across from him?  A bust of Phillips Brooks.

Bust of Phillips Brooks by Daniel Chester French

Bust of Phillips Brooks by Daniel Chester French

Learn more about Trinity stories in stone and glass with a tour: http://trinitychurchboston.org/art-history/tours

Sources for this post …

(1) Phillips Brooks, 1835-1893: Memories of his life … by Alexander Viets Griswold Allen (1907)

(2) Life and Correspondence of Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Volume 2 by Rowland Edmund Prothero (1893)

(3) The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 48, October 1881

(4) Trinity Church in the City of Boston, 1888, pp. 31-32

(5) Mary Grant

(6) Phillips Brooks Bust image is from Wiki Commons


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Charles R. Lamb, photo by Doris Ulmann

Charles R. Lamb, photo by Doris Ulmann

Recently I photographed the eagle lectern at Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston.  That day I had grown impatient with color and switched to black and white.  And thankfully so because  the play of light and shadows across the bird’s form revealed wonderful details. That lectern, original to the historic landmark (1877), was designed by Charles R. Lamb of J & R Lamb Studios of New York.

J & R Lamb Studios, established by brothers Joseph and Richard Lamb in 1857 and still in operation today, is most well-known for its stained glass creations. In fact, the company’s artists produced designs for a range of furnishings, metalwork and interior architecture as well.  Charles Lamb (1860-1942), son of Joseph, left school at 16 to join his father and uncle at the studio.  He would eventually take over management of the company.

Design drawing for metalwork: Chiro chalice with grapevines

Design drawing for metalwork: Chiro chalice with grapevines, by Charles R. Lamb

His brother Frederick Stymetz Lamb would become head designer and oversee the studio’s artists who included Charles Lamb’s wife, Ella Condie Lamb.  Charles’s daughter Katherine Lamb Tait would become head designer after WWII.

Katherine Lamb Tait

Katherine Lamb Tait

Over the course of his individual career, Charles Lamb would focus on urban planning and help pioneer the concept of City Beautiful.  Most of the short biographies I found describe him as an innovator with ideas ahead of their time.  Though during his professional life, he enabled the creation of much bright beauty, the latter part of his life may have been a bit dark. On February 22, 1942 he passed away at his home, Lamb’s Lane, in Cresskill, NJ. He was 82.

Design drawing for stained glass tondo window "The Lamb on Mount Zion and Four-Square City of New Jerusalem" showign lamb with and elaborate detailing including grape/leaf border and Jerusalem/architectural motif

Design drawing for stained glass window “The Lamb on Mount Zion and Four-Square City of New Jerusalem” showing lamb with and elaborate detailing including grape/leaf border and Jerusalem/architectural motif

In 2003 and 2004, the Library of Congress acquired nearly 2500 drawings and sketches as well business records and photographs from the Lamb Studios.  They are accessible to the public via this link: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/lamb/.  An incredible resource for artists and historians.

Design drawing for two stained glass windows with grapevine vegetal design

Design drawing for two stained glass windows with grapevine vegetal design

Sources & Additional Reading

J & R Lamb Studios

Lamb Studios Archive at Library of Congress

Lamb Studios History by Barea Lamb Seeley

City Beautiful Movement

Corning Museum of Glass – Historical Perspectives: Katherine Lamb Tait

Charles R. Lamb image courtesy of Doris Ulmann Photographic Collection, 1915-1925, University of Kentucky

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… I just make myself sit in a place, for just a few moments, and watch where the sunlight falls. And sometimes I notice that there are places where I have to shine my own light into a shadowed nook to appease my curiosity.  One day recently, while shining such a light, this is what I saw at Trinity Church.

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Courtesy of Trinity Archives

Photo of Charity, Courtesy of Trinity Archives

Charity is a stained glass window once located at Trinity Church in the City of Boston. It was designed by Frederic Crowninshield.  The inscription at the bottom of the window, barely legible in the above photo, reads “In memory of Cordelia Harmon, the friend of the poor and friendless. Died May 25, 1883.”  In an 1888 publication providing a descriptive account of the church, including of its windows, Harmon was described as “the Almoner of Trinity Church for many years, and through her good deeds was well known by all the poor in any way connected with the Parish.  The window was a gift of members of the Parish.”

Born in Maine, Cordelia Harmon (1820-1883) spent her adult life in the Boston area.  It is clear from surviving records that she consistently strove to help those who could least help themselves.  Regardless of good deeds done as an elementary school teacher, a nurse at Mass General Hospital or serving people through programs offered by her church, Harmon appears to have never turned her eyes away from the wrongs that remained around her.

One of the church-supported programs that she participated on was The Ladies’ Relief Agency.  As a part of that charity’s design, every application submitted seeking assistance was investigated, including a home visit.  Through such visits, and no doubt her work with other charities, Harmon was able to see firsthand the lack of support for those with chronic diseases, people who were turned away from hospitals, and many of whom had no family to care for them.  She would write:  “How can a man, breathing fetid air, living in the squalor and debasement that abound, where the poor most do congregate and often of necessity, feel hope or courage to rise above his condition?

Harmon imagined creating a home for those people where they could live a good life until the end of their days.  It was an idea that she would discuss with Phillips Brooks, the rector of Trinity Church.  He would help her raise the funds to open The Boston Home for the Incurables in 1881.  Harmon would work at this home until she “died at her post” in 1883.  Phillips Brooks was traveling abroad when he learned of Harmon’s death.  In a letter to his brother he wrote:

Despite his expression of not feeling well-fitted to do the work of Cordelia Harmon, upon his return to Boston, Phillips Brooks did continue her legacy.  In 1883, Trinity formed The Committee for the Establishment of The Boston Home for Incurables to raise funds to expand upon Harmon’s idea.  Funds raised helped the Home to acquire a larger facility and accommodate more patients.  It would continue to expand and refine its services over the next 130 years.  Today, the Boston Home is a respected, model institution serving nearly 100 residents.

Charity, designed by Frederic Crowninshield,

The only known surviving image of the Harmon window is a black and white photo taken in the 1920s. In the center of the image, a woman and two children, destitute.  To the left, a figure with head bowed, the weight of the world upon his shoulders.  Standing amidst them is Jesus.  And above them all, in capital letters, is the text:  Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  The window did not survive major renovations that took place in the 1950s. The window may be gone but the memory and legacy of Miss Cordelia Harmon lives on and continues to evolve.


Sources, Additional Reading, Etc.



September 19, 2014 article with video: http://assistivetech.scripts.mit.edu/blog/finding-a-home/

Charity postcard with insert about Harmon available at Trinity Church Bookshop

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A plain black gown emphasized her type, which is fine, clean cut and deceptively simple.  Her eyes are dark and bright, her hair spun silver and the modulations of her low pitched voice are peculiarly musical. Denying herself color, she is a master of color.

Margaret Redmond, circa 1927

Margaret Redmond, circa 1927

In 1927, artist Margaret Redmond (1867-1948) was interviewed in her studio at 45 Newbury Street, Boston.  The interviewer Helen Fitzgerald described the space as, “a veritable treasure trove to the art lover.  All about her color glows and flames.  On the walls are sketches of colorful places … and the light transmuted by the stained glass of her own making fills the room with rays of gold and ruby, emerald, violet and blue so intense that it stirs in the sensitive observer an emotion akin to ecstasy.

Detail from Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Detail from Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

For the 1927 interview and in others, Redmond describes in detail her stained glass technique and why she chose to work with glass quite differently than contemporaries John La Farge or Louis Comfort Tiffany, whose works she admired.  As author Elinor Morgan summarized, La Farge and Tiffany designed with glass, whereas Redmond sought to use the glass as her canvas.

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Born in Philadelphia, Redmond would study at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, travel abroad to study in Europe, before returning to the states. In that 1927 interview, Redmond shared, “I went to England and France, where I spent two years studying the old glass windows in cathedrals, churches and museums. … My studies led me to many old cities and their churches and cathedrals.

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

Detail from the Evangelists Window, Trinity Church, 1927

When I had completed my pilgrimage of the cathedrals, I studied with Simon and Mellard in Paris.  Returning to this country, I came to Boston and entered the studio of Connick, the famous maker of stained glass, where I made my first window.”

Charles Jay Connick

Charles Jay Connick

Redmond apprenticed with Connick between 1906 and 1910.  Prior to that she bought a farm in Nelson, New Hampshire in an area that would become a hub for artists and intellectuals with Pennsylvania roots.  Redmond would maintain a summer home and studio there. Examples of her painting and stained glass work can still be found in this community.

Though her medieval inspired style of glassmaking was not in vogue, Redmond received a wide range of commissions for work in churches as well as in private homes and businesses. She exhibited her work, including watercolors and oil paintings as well as stained glass items, at arts and craft shows across the nation.

The 1920s and 1930s is considered her most productive period and this is when, for approximately $12,800, she would produce a series of windows for Trinity Church in the City of Boston, from the Apostles to the Evangelists (pictured earlier in this post) to scenes from the life of David and Solomon.

Throughout her career, Redmond was an innovator, for instance, experimenting with different uses for stained glass in the home, including fire screens which were popular in the period.  Though respected as an artist, she like many women was too often ostracized in a male-dominated field.  But in her studios she worked with both men and women, making a special effort to train young women as assistants in the different phases of the work.  In 1931, Connick would ask Redmond to list some of her favorite creations.  She would include on the list the windows produced for Trinity Church.

Detail from Tree of Life Window, Trinity Church

Detail from Tree of Life Window, Trinity Church

I have been unable to find a book solely about Margaret Redmond, or a single listing of her creations, but her papers including contracts are housed in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.  A research project for another day perhaps. 😉

Sources/Additional Reading

Creates Stained Glass Windows, Margaret Redmond Searches Europe for Secrets of her Chosen Art, September 11, 1927 article interview by Helen Fitzgerald, Sunday Eagle Magazine, September 11, 1927

History Written in Glass by Elizabeth B. Prudden, The Christian Science Monitor, June 30, 1931

A Woman in Stained Glass … Against the Odds by Elinor Morgan, Stained Glass Quarterly, 1990

Women Artists at Trinity: Sarah Wyman Whitman and Margaret Redmond, article by Erica E. Hirshler in Makers of Trinity ed. by James F. O’Gorman, 2004

Redmond Papers at the Archives of American Art

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When I shared new photos I’ve taken inside Trinity Church with a friend, he remarked, “I see.  You’re digging deeper into the details.”  More details to share in the future. Have a good day, folks. 😉

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I have an unofficial postcard club of 5, 6 and 7 year olds.  It is mostly a quarterly mailing of nature-themed images.  I have offered to hand the postcards to my young friends but they seem to like the idea of a handwritten note, a stamp applied, and the piece of paper traveling around the world (so to speak) before winding up in their mailbox, addressed to them specifically.  I have told the older ones that one day soon I expect a note in return.  😉

If you follow this blog, you know how much I love producing postcards of the stained glass windows at Trinity Church in Copley Square.  Of late, I’ve been focusing my attention on the painted walls.  Expect a future post about the original paintings orchestrated by John La Farge in the late 1800s and later painting done over the decades during various renovations.

This postcard is of St. Paul on the west porch of Trinity Church.  I especially love the reflection of the church in the glass of the neighboring John Hancock building.  This postcard is now available at the Shop at Trinity Church.

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In The Art and Thought of John La Farge, author Katie Kresser writes that John La Farge (1835-1910) completed his first sketch of Nicodemus and Christ in 1874.  That biblical encounter is a subject that La Farge would depict in several different forms over time.  Here is a sketch dated 1877 in the Yale University Art Gallery, and here is an oil painting completed in 1880, now housed at the Smithsonian.  He would also create a stained glass window for the Church of the Ascension in New York.  The following image, The Visit of Nicodemus to Christ, is a photograph of the mural La Farge painted on the walls of Trinity Church in Boston.

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

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

It is one of several murals that La Farge painted inside the building with the aid of assistants like Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Francis D. Millet and Francis Lathrop.  I keep photographing them because I think that there is always something new to see and experience.

In the literature of the time period critiquing his work, there is often reference to La Farge’s use of color in the murals that borders on the poetic.  For example, “In his “Christ and Nicodemus,” … we find the color quality strongly dominant. … the rich blues vein the draperies and background like the threads in a Flemish tapestry …” (The Churchman newspaper, July 6, 1901).

Christ Woman at Well, mural in Trinity Church by John La Farge

Christ Woman at Well, mural by John La Farge, 1877

The beauty of La Farge’s murals is constant but their colors do shift in the light.  Different details become present depending upon where one stands and at what time of day.

David, mural by John La Farge

David, mural by John La Farge, 1877

My favorite is perhaps the painting of David, because of the colors and especially for the expression on the young man’s face.

I had originally titled this post “in his own words” because I came across John La Farge: A Memoir and a Study compiled by Roy Cortissoz, literary and art critic for the New York Tribune, and La Farge’s friend.  In the book, completed in 1911 shortly after La Farge’s death in 1910, La Farge reminisces about what it was like painting the murals at Trinity under tight time constraints, in poor health, up high on scaffolding.  Reading the words made me appreciate the skills of all the artists even more.  If you’d like to read La Farge’ account, begin at the end of page 31 of the book, available online here.

Learn how you can see these murals and other architectural and design features at Trinity Church first hand here. Postcards of some of these images available via The Shop.

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