American Stained Glass Superiority
in the Gilded Age Part 4
Spirit of the Revolution
Frederick Stymetz Lamb
Frederick Stymetz Lamb (1863–1928)
Frederick Stymetz Lamb was head of design at the family firm of J & R Lamb Studios. He supervised the firm’s team of skilled craftsmen. He described his stained glass windows as “crystal canvases” and himself as “a painter without a brush.” He learned much growing up in the family business. He also studied with William Sartain and James Caroll Beckwith at the Art Students League in New York. Later, he studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris.
After studying abroad, Lamb had a studio in New York City. He was known as a muralist and stained glass designer, and he was involved in Architectural preservation. He was strongly influenced by his father’s friend John La Farge. He often watched the fabrication of La Farge’s stained glass windows at the Decorative Stained Glass Company.
Lamb’s work was highly regarded during his lifetime. He won an honorable mention at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, received a gold medal at the Atlanta Exposition of 1895, and with his brother won two gold medals at the Paris Exposition in 1900.
Lamb depicted flesh with unusual depth and vitality. He was known for a double-plating technique he used to create unusually life-like human faces. Lamb also used leading in areas where lines were needed for definition. Leading and selection of colors were of great concern to him. He often layered one piece of glass in one color over many smaller pieces of glass in various colors, adding a richness to his windows. He skillfully applied such techniques in our powerful Spirit of the Revolution window.
Lamb believed that the work done in stained glass in America returned individuality to windows, as had been the case in the past when a window was completely created by one person. He felt the European apprenticeship system had created glass factories.
Lamb worked for almost forty years at J & R Lamb Studios. During his career, he created murals, easel paintings, and mosaics, as well as stained glass windows. He retired in 1921 due to health problems.
Spirit of the Revolution
FREDERICK STYMETZ LAMB
Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Drapery 3. Herringbone 4. Striated 5. Mottled 6. Nodular 7. Hammered 8. Fractured 9. Acid-Etched Flash
Painting on faces, hands, feet and on the second layer of the three layers of the wings
Up to 5 Layers
This powerful window, featuring a militant angel, commemorates the 1776 Battle of Harlem Heights in New York. In this critical battle, the Americans stood their ground against British troops, regaining confidence after several defeats. It was also the first battlefield success for the great Commander-in-Chief General George Washington.
The Daughters of the Revolution, a nonprofit group consisting of direct descendants of soldiers who fought for American independence, commissioned this window. The well-documented window is described in the records of the Daughters of the Revolution from the original commission to the installation. This window was exhibited at the St. Louis World’s Fair before being installed at St. Luke’s Home for Aged Women in New York City in 1905.
Frederick Lamb was the head designer for his family’s firm. Still in operation, J & R Lamb Studios is the oldest glass company in continuous operation in the United States.
The predominately blue and red medallions on the side panels have been enhanced through acid etching on flash glass and the application of silver stain. The former technique involves applying a thin layer of color to blown glass before removing some of the color with acid. The treated area is then lighter or clearer in color.
Notice the spectacular metalwork used in the construction of the collar, clasp for the robe, belt, and the triangular detail on the top garment. The designs are created with lead instead of glass, making the shapes look like real metal objects. The top flanges on the leading of each tiny piece of glass is shaved or nipped off to provide a more ornamental appearance. The layering of additional glass plates adds depth and enhances the metalwork.
This angel squarely faces forward wearing an especially unique halo, which consists of brilliant stars emanating from behind a neoclassical laurel wreath headpiece. The artist performed intricate cutting of glass around the stars to achieve a celestial effect.
The texture of herringbone glass is what creates the effect of feathers in the wings. Notice the fine ripples in the glass.
The robe was created using detailed plating behind the drapery glass. The white part of the robe is translucent giving it an otherworldly appearance.