Stained Glass Masters

The innovative artists of the American Stained Glass Movement focused on using glass to create new effects not seen in European painted windows. They essentially painted with glass, that is, they used features of the glass itself as well as new techniques to achieve pictorial details. 

They created new vividly colored glass and new types of textured glass. They invented drapery, confetti, and ridged glass, among others. They were the first to use faceted glass nuggets and pressed glass jewels. But the most important development was opalescent glass, which became a trademark of the American Movement. Opalescent glass included multiple colors in the same piece, suggesting highlights and shadows, muting bright light, and creating complimentary tones to adjacent colors. It allowed the artist to render realistic subjects relying on the effects within the glass rather than painting on the glass. Both La Farge and Tiffany claimed to have invented opalescent glass windows.

The use of multiple layers of glass was another major technological innovation that deepened colors and allowed for the creation of shadows and other effects without painting. This technique is called plating. The layers created depth of field and the suggestion of three-dimensions. Layering also enhanced the effects of sunlight shining through glass. Much smaller pieces of glass were used in American windows than in European ones. American artists sometimes layered small pieces of glass behind larger pieces to depict clothing and other details. 

The size and positioning of leading took on new importance in the work of the American artists. For centuries, leading had played a functional role in stained glass windows—connecting the pieces of glass. In American windows, leading had an additional purpose—it also provided lines within the design. The American artists also used leading of various sizes. They did not always use straight lines of lead as had been done in the past. La Farge developed a technique of back-plating leading to create the impression of shadows. 

Traditional leading was difficult to use for complex patterns requiring many small glass pieces. For such projects, American artists developed the copper foil technique. They wrapped the edges of glass pieces with a thin copper foil before the pieces were laid out and soldered together. This type of leading flowed with the design and helped create more organic landscapes.

The new types of glass and new techniques meant American artists did not have to rely on painting on glass to create details. Therefore, they limited painting primarily to faces, hands, and feet. They were thus able to create windows with a new and stunning appearance like those you see in our Collection.

Gallery Stories: American Stained Glass Superiority in the Gilded Age

American Stained Glass Superiority.1.0.p
American Stained Glass Superiority Part

Thy Faith Hath Made Thee Whole

Joseph Lauber, Tiffany Studios
Date unknown
Thy Faith Hath Made thy Whole
Thy Faith Hath Made thy Whole

Tiffany Studios

Thy Faith Hath Made Thy Whole (Detail)
Thy Faith Hath Made Thy Whole (Detail)

Tiffany Studios

Thy Faith Hath Made thy Whole
Thy Faith Hath Made thy Whole

Tiffany Studios

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• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Striated 3. Nodular 4. Cathedral 5. Antique Cathedral
• Painting on faces, hands, and feet
• Multiple Layers
• 1921

Joseph Lauber worked for Tiffany from 1888 to 1892. However, according to documentation, he likely designed windows for Tiffany as late as 1898. Lauber was a muralist, etcher, sculptor, mosaic artist, and painter, as well as an art professor at Columbia University.
Like many artists and designers at Tiffany, Lauber contributed to the greatness of the firm while receiving little credit for his accomplishments. One of the goals of this exhibition is to showcase the work of great yet virtually unrecognized artists who were overshadowed by Tiffany’s fame, such as Mary Tillinghast, Frederick Wilson, and Edward P. Sperry, among others.

Special Features
• An unusual technique was used in the creation of the robes. Striated glass is plated over hundreds of slivers of different colored glass, diffusing and softening the colors while creating folds in the robes. There is no drapery glass in this window.
• Another unusual technique seen here is the layering of cathedral or one color glass over opalescent glass rather than opalescent glass over opalescent glass.
• The above factors contribute to the magnificence and uniqueness of this window.

Biblical Story of the Window
The biblical story of a woman who is healed of a long illness by touching the robe of Jesus is vividly depicted in this window. She believed that by touching the hem of his robe she would be cured. Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:34) His white robe signifies his divinity and purity, while her darker clothes reflect her suffering prior to being healed.

Three Reproductions of La Farge's Sealing of the Twelve Tribes Window

Gilbertson's Stained Glass
2015-2016
Replicas of Sealing of the Twelve Tribes
Replicas of Sealing of the Twelve Tribes

Gilberston's Stained Glass Design by John La Farge

Replicas of Sealing of the Twelve Tribes
Replicas of Sealing of the Twelve Tribes

Gilberston's Stained Glass Design by John La Farge

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• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Milk 3. Wispy 4. Marbleized
• Painting only on faces, limbs and hands
• One Layer, Two Layers, Three Layers
• Contemporary

American stained glass artists developed new types of glass that were tremendously varied and rich in textures and colors. While searching for the most effective way to use these new creations, American artists began layering glass in their windows. This technique is called plating.

This trio of windows was created to show the varying visual effects of one, two, and three layers of glass. The shapes of the glass pieces are the same; it is the additional layers that change the appearance.

The lower left window has a single layer of glass. It is more translucent than the other windows. The colors are not as vibrant. The faces and hands are more rudimentary, and they are in colors that are not realistic. Overall, the window is very flat and lacks depth.

The lower right window has up to two layers of glass with the additional layers added to the back of the window. In general, plating deepens and strengthens the colors of glass. In this window, the faces are plated with milk glass painted in a flesh tone, which gives the skin a deeper color. The more realistic sky has an uneven blue color, which was produced by plating with blue wispy and marbleized glass. The grey and white sections of the woman’s gown deepened in color because of the adjacent brown section being plated with pink and blue glass.

The top window includes up to three layers of glass with the additional layers added to the front of the window. Notice how they add depth of field and three-dimensional effects to the composition. They also enhance the effects of light shining through the glass. Plating has made the lower portion of the gowns appear softer and three-dimensional. The man’s arm also now appears three-dimensional. The faces and hands received a light clear layer with texture that created a deeper tone close to real flesh color. And the sky is now the deeper color of a real sky. The section of missing glass in the bottom right corner reveals the three layers.

Cartoon for Holy Family's Flight into Egypt

William T. Hickinson
Circa 1920
Cartoon for Holy Family's Flight into Egypt
Cartoon for Holy Family's Flight into Egypt

William T. Hickinson

Cartoon for Holy Family's Flight into Egypt
Cartoon for Holy Family's Flight into Egypt

William T. Hickinson

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Born at Stratford-upon-Avon, William T. Hickinson studied at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington, the Sheffield School of Art in London, and the Académie Julian in Paris. Founded in 1868, the Académie Julian was popular with foreign students and was the major alternative school to the École des Beaux Art. Les Nabis, a group of young symbolist artists, originated at the Académie in 1888–1889. Louis C. Tiffany translated several of their works into stained glass.

The multi-talented Hickinson worked in glass, murals, painting, and sculpture. He exhibited at the Royal Academy for eleven years. He also assisted with the Victoria Memorial at Buckingham Palace and the mural decorations in Westminster Abbey. Additionally, he worked as a teacher and an artist for the British government during World War I.

By 1920, Hickinson had immigrated to the United States and settled in Milwaukee, where for many years, he worked for the E. F. Schmidt stained glass studio. Our Hickinson drawing (c. 1920) of the Holy Family’s Flight into Egypt is the design for a stained glass window. Our museum based its two stained glass windows of the Flight into Egypt on this drawing.

Hickinson’s date of death is unknown. But he is listed in the archives of the Museum of Wisconsin Art as a Works Progress Administration artist from 1935 to 1943.

Christ and Nicodemus

Frederick Wilson for Tiffany Studios
Date unknown
Christ and Nicodemus
Christ and Nicodemus

Tiffany Studios

Christ and Nicodemus
Christ and Nicodemus

Tiffany Studios

Christ and Nicodemus Lamp Detail
Christ and Nicodemus Lamp Detail

Tiffany Studios

Christ and Nicodemus
Christ and Nicodemus

Tiffany Studios

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• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Rippled 3. Mottled 4. Striated 5. Herringbone 6. Drapery 7. Hand Cut Jewels
• Painting on faces, hands, and feet
• Multilayers

This window was originally installed in North Congregational Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts. It is similar to other Tiffany windows based on the same biblical story.

Special Features
• The talented Frederick Wilson designed and painted this window.
• The artist used copper foil to create the detailed design of the leaves and flowers. With this technique, the artist first cuts copper sheets into very thin pieces. He applies the copper lines to the edges of the glass pieces and then solders them together along the length of the seams. The copper foil perfectly follows the glass line, allowing the artist to stay true to the original design. In contrast, lead creates a more streamlined effect. This technique was used most often with landscapes.
• In this window, Tiffany created spectacular contrasts. Gold glass surrounded by dark glass creates the beautiful glow of the lantern. Christ is imbued with a rich glow in the foreground, while Nicodemus recedes into shadows. The cross above them further illuminates the nighttime setting. The predominately gold side panels hint at the coming dawn. The artist also juxtaposed the commanding figure of Jesus with the hesitant and more diminutive Nicodemus.
• The gold light emanating from the lantern creates a three-dimensional effect.

Biblical Story of the Window
This window depicts the biblical story of Christ and Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council responsible for the interpretation of civil and religious laws. He met with Jesus under the cover of darkness to learn more about his teachings.

Cornelius and the Angel

Attributed to John La Farge
Date unknown
Cornelius and the Angel
Cornelius and the Angel

Attributed to John La Farge

Cornelius and the Angel
Cornelius and the Angel

Attributed to John La Farge

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• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Granite 3. Striated 4. Nodular
• Painting on faces, hands, and feet
• Multiple Layers

The encounter between Cornelius and the angel has been depicted in paintings and stained glass windows by various artists, including Tiffany and Mary Tillinghast. Tiffany Studios created at least four design variations on the theme, and there are at least seven Cornelius and the Angel windows in New York alone.

Special Features
• John La Farge created windows rich in detail like this one. Although the figures fill most of the space, the setting is made complete by the multitude of other features, including the column, the table, the gold oil lamp, the basket, the scrolls, the sky, and the stone wall.
• As in this window, La Farge did not typically use drapery glass. Instead, he used many small pieces of multi-colored glass to depict the folds and draping of the clothing. He did so as skillfully as other artists who used drapery glass or paint for this purpose.
• Notice how the artist created another point of interest by bringing to the forefront of the scene the smoke coming from the oil lamp.

Biblical Story of the Window
This window depicts the biblical story in which an angel visits Cornelius and tells him to seek out Peter. Cornelius was a centurion, a Roman mercenary who commanded a century or group of at least one hundred men. According to scriptures:

3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” 4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. (Acts 10: 3–5)

Peter came to the home of Cornelius and spoke to a group of people about Jesus. They became the first Gentile converts to Christianity.

Looking to the Sea

Tiffany Studios
After 1915
Looking to the Sea
Looking to the Sea

Tiffany Studios

Looking to the Sea
Looking to the Sea

Tiffany Studios

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• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Mild Drapery 3. Mottled 4. Striated 5. Nodular 6. Acid Etched Flash
7. Kokomo Granite Catspaw
• Painting on hair, face, and hands
• Multilayers

This window was installed in the early part of the 20th century at St. John’s Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Founded in 1706, St. John’s is one of the oldest parishes in New Jersey. It is also a large parish with seating for 1,000 congregants. During better times, the church established a healthy endowment fund and installed stained glass windows, including at least six by Tiffany.

But with a downturn in the economy and a decrease in the population of Elizabeth, the parish found its financial resources depleted. Thus, it sold some of its stained glass windows to raise money for building repairs. The Museum’s collection includes three windows from St. John’s Church.

Special Features
• The sea is a major character in this window. The waves have been expertly created using two techniques. The waves in the forefront are plated with nodular glass on top of striated glass. The waves in the background are painted. The artist seamlessly blended the plated glass and the painted glass.
• The artist finely executed the other details of this window as well. The woman looks wistfully out to sea. Her longing is evident in her expression and stance. Could she be waiting for a loved one to return home? The folds in her robe have been created using mild drapery glass. She stands on a realistic promontory consisting of craggy rockwork. And painted and acid etched glass give the plants near her feet their texture.

St. John the Divine

Tiffany Studios
1910
St. John the Divine
St. John the Divine

Tiffany Studios

St. John the Divine
St. John the Divine

Tiffany Studios

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• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Drapery 3. Rippled 4. Striated 5. Mottled 6. Fracture 7. Old Pink
• Painting only on face, hands, and feet
• 3 layers

This window was a memorial to Levi Knight Fuller, the forty-fourth Governor of Vermont. Fuller was an engineer who held more than one hundred patents. He was also an amateur astronomer and scientist. His estate included an observatory and an extensive library. In this window, St. John the Divine points to the sky. The artist likely used this image in part to pay homage to the hobby of Levi Knight Fuller.
This window was originally installed at First Baptist Church in Brattleboro, Vermont. The parish sold the window to the Museum to raise funds for its homeless shelter.

Special Features
• The overall appearance of the window is enhanced by the very fine leading.
• The mottled glass gives the clothing depth. The subtle drapery glass creates large folds.
• The artist created a glowing effect by using amber glass.
• The sky appears to open due to the juxtaposition of white and blue glass.

Biblical Story of the Window
This window depicts St. John the Divine who was author of the Book of Revelations, one Gospel, and three epistles. The lush landscape may be indicative of the Greek island of Patmos, which is where St. John received and wrote the Book of Revelation. The amber color of the robe and book indicate the glory and majesty of God and the brightness of His presence. St. John the Divine is also known as John of Patmos and St. John the Evangelist. He appears in our lobby staircase window as well.

Spring Lake

Attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany
1912
Spring Lake
Spring Lake

Tiffany

Spring Lake
Spring Lake

Tiffany

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• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Mottled 3. Striated 4. Nodular
• No painting
• 3 to 4 Layers

What creates the pervasive sense of peace in this window? It is the stillness, the idyllic setting, and the luminescent quality. The trees provide a frame through which to view the lake and distant mountains. There is abundant ground cover at the base of the trees. A vibrant green is used throughout the window. And although the sun is out of sight, it imbues the sky with a rosy hue. In many memorial windows by Tiffany, God is reflected in the beauty of nature. This scene could also be a vision of the afterlife.

Special Features
• This is a copper foil window. Copper foil allows the artist to create intricate details that would appear less realistic with the bulky look and weight of lead. Notice in this window how the artist used copper foil to create the delicate design of the small flowers.
• The artist used large pieces of glass like the one for the water in this window. Because large pieces of glass are hard to cut, they are not seen much in leaded windows.
• The reinforcing bars are incorporated into the design and penetrate the glass layers to make the window stronger. They are all horizontal so as not to destroy the view. The reinforcing bar at the base of the window is complicated to provide the necessary support.

Our Savior

Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company
1900
Our Savior
Our Savior

Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company

Our Savior
Our Savior

Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company

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• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Striated 3. Mottled 4. Rippled 5. Cast Glass Jewels
• Painting on face
• Multiple Layers

Although Louis Comfort Tiffany’s company is best known by the name of Tiffany Studios, his vast creative enterprise operated under various names throughout the years. However, the quality and status associated with Tiffany windows remained constant during these changes. The firm was called Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company from 1892–1900. This window was originally designed for the Second Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, Ohio.

Special Features
• There is a high level of detail in this window. Each flower cluster is different, and a multitude of small pieces of glass were used to create the flower petals.
• The jewels in this window are smooth and subtle because they are cast rather than hand cut. Cast jewels are made by pouring molten glass into a mold. The artist used three to five different molds and a variety of glass colors to vary the appearance of the jewels. The jewels were then leaded in and plated over on the back.

Biblical Story of the Window
The Christ Jesus is the focal point of this window; the prevalence of purple glass likely symbolizes his Kingship. The inner border is inscribed I Am the Light of the World in multiple colors. Jesus spoke these words in John 8:12. Luminescent glass creates a halo of light around his head.

Madonna and Child

Creator unknown
1902
Madonna and Child
Madonna and Child

Creator Unknown

Madonna and Child
Madonna and Child

Creator Unknown

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• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Striated 3. Mottled
• Painting on faces, hands, and feet
• Up to 3 layers

This was one of eight windows unveiled in 1902 at All Souls’ Universalist Church in Brooklyn. The two figures appear to be based on the well-known paintings of Adolphe-William Bouguereau, including The Virgin of the Lilies and The Virgin with Angels. Bouguereau was a leading 19th century French painter who worked in the academic tradition, often producing classical, mythological, and biblical scenes. While revered by the Paris academy, he often drew derision from the avant-garde.

Special Features
• The artist delicately executed the painting on both figures, especially the faces of Jesus and Mary.
• The brightly colored garments have folds and draping created through layering of glass.
• The realistic figures contrast with the abstract landscape. The artist drew attention to this distinction by placing the figures in the foreground with the sweeping vista in the background.
• Notice the bending of rebar in this window. It was done with great attention to the window design. The rebar curves around details rather than cutting across them.
• The rebar on this window is especially heavy and would have been difficult to bend to follow the lead lines. The artisan heats and then bends the rebar in a manner similar to a blacksmith curving a horseshoe.

Prayer of the Shepherd

Frederick Wilson for Tiffany Studios
Before 1915
Detail of Prayer of the Shepherd
Detail of Prayer of the Shepherd

Frederick Wilson for Tiffany Studios

Prayer of the Shepherd
Prayer of the Shepherd

Frederick Wilson for Tiffany Studios

Detail of Prayer of the Shepherd
Detail of Prayer of the Shepherd

Frederick Wilson for Tiffany Studios

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• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Mild drapery 3. Striated 4. Nodular 5. Mottled 6. Old Rolled Art Glass
7. Hand Cut Jewels
• Painting on face, hands, feet, and sheep
• Multiple Layers

The Good Shepherd was a popular theme for stained glass windows. Tiffany Studios depicted its Good Shepherd windows in several distinct styles. Frederick Wilson, one of Tiffany’s most talented artists, designed this window and executed the painting. He excelled in painting faces and other flesh. In this window, the fine quality painting includes the herd of sheep, which subtly fades into the distance. This window was included in the List of Tiffany Windows (1915).

Special Features
• The radiant halo was created through plating, silver stain, and acid etching. These laborious and painstaking techniques helped achieve the artist’s goal to make vivid and real that which we cannot see—to bring the otherworldly into the vernacular of everyday worship.
• The purple mottled drapery glass used in the bottom of the robe and in the sleeves is very unusual. It adds richness and depth to the clothing.
• The sunrise infuses the scene with a delicate aura, which is achieved through silver stain and acid etching.
• Notice the sparkling hand cut jewels on the side and top panels. The jewels around the cross are hand cut from a very thick slab of glass.
• In the large side panels, blue represents the sky, which is all striated glass plated with nodular glass. The sky has a certain depth that underscores the deep religious meaning of the window.

Biblical Background
Jesus often used imagery from shepherding to help people understand his teachings. The following Biblical quotes illustrate this point:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11)
“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and am known by my own.” (John 10:14)

Spirit of the Revolution

Frederick Stymetz Lamb
1904
Spirit of the Revolution
Spirit of the Revolution

Frederick Stymetz Lamb

Spirit of the Revolution
Spirit of the Revolution

Frederick Stymetz Lamb

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• 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.

Special Features
• 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.