Prayer of the Shepherd

The Mastery of Louis Comfort Tiffany:

PART 2 OF 3

Prayer of the Shepherd

Prayer of the Shepherd

Designed and painted by Frederick Wilson at Tiffany Studios

Frederick Wilson

(1858-1932)

Frederick Wilson worked for Louis C. Tiffany for three decades from 1893 to 1923. During that time, he was the most prolific designer of ecclesiastical windows at the Tiffany firm, and he was head of the ecclesiastical department as early as 1899. His talents were critical to Tiffany’s success. During his lifetime, Wilson was known as an important artist in his field, but he has since been overshadowed by the prominence of the Tiffany name. Nevertheless, today Wilson’s windows can be seen in churches and museums throughout the United States. He was an unassuming man despite his creative genius.

Born in Ireland, Wilson grew up in England and began his design career in London where he worked for Heaton, Butler, and Bayne. In 1892, he and his wife moved to the United States during a time when the immigration of glassworkers to America was common. He worked for Alfred Godwin and Company in Philadelphia before he began working for Tiffany.

Because of his special relationship with Tiffany, Wilson worked out of his own Briarcliff Studio. He was one of the few employees whose work received recognition with his name included in press releases for windows he had designed. In 1907, Tiffany Studios held an exhibition of his paintings and cartoons. Wilson routinely signed and copyrighted his designs, making his work more easily identifiable than that of other Tiffany designers.

Wilson was known for the quality of his painted faces. He designed and painted our Christ and Nicodemus and Prayer of the Shepherd windows. The figural work in these windows is exceptional. Wilson was influenced by Pre-Raphaelite paintings. His women and men often have flowing, curly red hair and prominent chins and noses. He also depicted bold and muscular angels with powerful wings in shimmering and multihued opalescent glass. Having studied birds, Wilson brought a three-dimensional effect to his wings.

Of the hundreds of windows Wilson worked on at Tiffany, most were in the American opalescent style. From 1910 to 1920, Wilson also designed windows for other firms in styles that were noticeably different from his Tiffany windows. For example, some of those windows were mostly painted. Wilson moved to California in 1923. He then abandoned the opalescent style of windows for a more medieval-type style. He worked up until the end of his life.

Detail of Prayer of the Shepherd

Painted detail of Prayer of the Shepherd

Designed and painted by Frederick Wilson at Tiffany Studios

Detail of Prayer of the Shepherd

Painted detail of Prayer of the Shepherd

Designed and painted by Frederick Wilson at Tiffany Studios