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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

• 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.

St. John the Evangelist

Mary Tillinghast

• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Striated 3. Nodular 4. Mottled 5. Herringbone 6. Granite
• Painting only on flesh
• Up to 3 Layers

This is one of the largest and most stunning windows in the collection. The vivid colors are typical of the work of Mary Tillinghast. The complex design includes geometric shapes, stylized flowers, crowns, landscapes, and figures. The window was originally installed at Trinity Methodist Church in Auburn, New York. St John is in the center panel. In the panel to his left, an angel is supporting a cross. In the panel to his right, an angel is holding a bouquet of lilies. The bottom three panels include memorial inscriptions and biblical quotations.

The image of St. John is based on a lunette with St. John and the Eagle (c. 1520) by Correggio in the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Parma Italy. That painting has been translated into stained glass several times. John La Farge used the image in creating his The New Jerusalem window at Trinity Church in Boston, which was done when Tillinghast was working with him.

Special Features
• Tillinghast carefully placed individual pieces of glass to create the details in this window. Her selection of glass makes the window look like a painting.
• The glass is often plated on the back using striated glass on the front. The water sparkles because of the nodular glass plated on the back.
• The Mary Tillinghast fecit 1907 signature is unusual in that it was painted or enameled. Her inscriptions and signatures are usually in a mosaic style using pieces of glass, as in the Maiden and Scholar windows in the East Gallery.

Biblical Story of the Window

St. John the Evangelist wrote the Book of Revelation, one Gospel, and three epistles. He is often called the Theologian because of the profundity of his Gospel, which starts with the famous prologue: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Book of Revelation is the only prophetic book in the New Testament. These writings reveal details about the last days or end times often in visions, culminating in the Second Coming of Christ. The lush landscape in this window is indicative of the Greek island of Patmos, which is where St. John received the Book of Revelation while in exile. The Book is symbolized in the image of New Jerusalem in the center panel. The strong, graceful eagle in the center panel represents St. John and the theological heights to which he soars in his Gospel.

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

Gilbertson's Stained Glass

• 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.

Saint Paul Preaching at Ephesus

Attributed to J & R Lamb Studios
Date unknown

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

This window is likely based on a 1649 painting of the same name by Eustache Le Sueur. Le Sueur was born and died in Paris. He is known for his religious paintings in the French classical Baroque style.

Special Features
• Each face in this window is painted in a unique and life-like manner.
• No drapery glass was used in this window. All detail is on the back. This is a simple yet elegant window.
• Notice how the support bar is curved below the face of the central figure. Earlier European stained glass windows had support bars and leading that cut through faces and limbs.

Biblical Story of the Window

During his mission to Ephesus, Saint Paul preached the Gospel and gained many followers. Some of these converts to Christianity had practiced sorcery and magic. As depicted in this window, they burned their books and manuscripts on these topics.

Cartoon for Holy Family's Flight into Egypt

William T. Hickinson
Circa 1920

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.

Woman with Jug

Rudy Brothers Company
Date unknown

• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Striated 3. Mottled
• Painting of details on both front and back panels as well as top corners
• Multiple Layers

This window is alive with color. The blue of the robe is especially vibrant and perhaps represents the water in the jug.

As in this window, the Rudy Brothers often layered painting on the back of opalescent glass to great effect. This was an unusual technique for an American school artist. Here, the landscape, including the columns, plants, and flowers, are executed in this manner. But other features in this window are typical of the American school. For example, the artist painted the face and hands of the woman and depicted her clothing by layering multiple colors and types of glass. The birds at the feet of the woman may be the barn swallows that the Rudy Brothers used as a signature mark.

J. Horace Rudy, founder of the Rudy Brothers Company, had ties to two other famous stained glass artists. During his apprenticeship in Philadelphia, Rudy trained under the talented Frederick Wilson. Later, Charles Connick began his career as an apprentice to Mr. Rudy.

Biblical Story of the Window
The identity of this woman remains a mystery. However, in other religious art, Mary sometimes appears in a similar pose. Other women in the Bible, such as Rebekah and the Samaritan woman, also often draw or carry water.

Maiden and Scholar

Mary Tillinghast

• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Cathedral 3. Nodular 4. Striated 5. Mottled 6. Drapery 7. Herringbone
8. Granite 9. Rippled
• Painting only on faces and hands
• 2 Layers

Vivid colors, which are characteristic of the work of Mary Tillinghast, animate these windows, as well as her dramatic St. John the Evangelist window in the lobby staircase. Notice the small angels that appear at the feet of the figures. Angels such as these appear in some of Mary Tillinghast’s unsigned windows and are used in identifying her work.

Special Features
• A mixture of herringbone and drapery glass give the robes their folds and texture.
• Tillinghast commissioned her glass rather than producing it herself.
• The painting on the faces and other flesh is in an impressionistic style.
• The signature is “written” in glass.
• The Museum has intentionally reversed the inscription panel on the Maiden to show the intricate work in lead and glass that is required to produce an inscription panel as seen in the Scholar.

The Biblical Story of the Window
The Maiden window depicts the story of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Her husband demanded to see what she was carrying to quell suspicions she was stealing treasure from the castle. At that moment, the food for the poor she carried in her apron miraculously became roses. The Scholar window depicts St. Simeon. He carries a scroll possibly indicating he is Simeon the Translator, a magistrate known for his tact and diplomacy.

Christ Jesus Blessing Little Children

The Gorham Company

• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Drapery 3. Striated
• Painting on faces, hands, and feet
• Multilayers

Depictions of Jesus blessing a group of children appeared in paintings by numerous artists before being translated into stained glass windows. This window was originally installed in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Auburn, New York. Edward Sperry was possibly involved in the design of the window, as it was created during the time he worked for The Gorham Company. Sperry had previously designed for Tiffany. Well-known Tiffany designer, Frederick Wilson, also designed for The Gorham Company, but he did not begin working there until 1910.

Biblical Story of the Window
Jesus appears with children various times in the Bible, as in the following example:
13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark: 13–15)

Good Samaritan

Rudy Brothers Company
Early 20th Century

• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Mottled 3. Striated 4. Mild Drapery 5. Herringbone
• Painting
• Multilayers

As seen here, J. Horace Rudy created windows with brilliant colors. This window was originally installed at the North Congregational Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts. It is unsigned, which is not unusual for a window by the Rudy Brothers Company.

Special Features
• In this window, paint has been applied to the back of the opalescent glass. The Rudy Brothers excelled at this technique. Notice how it softens the appearance of the window and adds another dimension. The painting diffuses the light as it passes through the glass plates, creating an impressionistic quality.
• The leading in the front and back plates adds movement to the scene.

Biblical Story of the Window
This window depicts the Parable of the Good Samaritan in which a traveler is robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road. A passing Samaritan is the only person who stops to help the injured man. He gives the man water from his canteen and bandages his wounds with his scarf. He then gently lifts the man onto his animal and walks with him to the nearest city. Finally, he finds the man a room at an inn and pays for his room and board. Thus, the expression “good Samaritan” refers to someone who stops to help a stranger.

The figures in this window have been expertly created to illustrate the parable. The good Samaritan shows compassion. He wears an expression of concern, and his body leans toward the injured man. He gently offers a container of water. The injured man has a grave expression. He slumps forward in a seated position, holding his hand to his forehead. Despite a healthy physique, he is clearly in physical and perhaps emotional pain.


George Hardy Payne
Date unknown

• Types of glass: 1. Opalescent 2. Mottled 3. Drapery 4. Striated 5. Nodular
• Painting on faces, hands, and feet
• Mostly one layer

With twelve sections, this is one of the largest windows in the Museum’s collection. It was originally installed in Ebenezer Evangelical United Brethren Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Payne Studios produced this window, and their signature is in the bottom center panel. It is unusual that the signature includes the firm’s trademark.

Special Features
• A significant amount of drapery glass was used to create the robes, which flow and drape like real fabric. The artist also used drapery glass to depict the plants.
• Notice the difference in the structural supporting bars in this window. In most American School windows, the bars are placed to minimally impact the design of the windows. Here, possibly due in part to the heavy weight of this large window, the bars cut through the images.
• This window does not have as many layers as the other windows in the collection. The density of the opalescent glass makes additional layers unnecessary.

Biblical Story of the Window
This window depicts the miracle of the Transfiguration of Jesus:
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. (Matthew 17: 1–3)

Christ and Nicodemus

Frederick Wilson for Tiffany Studios
Date unknown

• 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

• 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.

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