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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 35/June 1889/Memorial Windows: Advertisement

< Popular Science Monthly‎ | Volume 35‎ | June 1889

MEMORIAL WINDOWS.

THE instinct of immortality survives through the centuries. The idea that the dead remember colors both literature and art, and makes the theme of poem and monument. In what way shall we show that they are not forgotten? That has been the question put to the sculptor, the architect, and painter by every generation. Every church is, in one sense, a memorial of One gone before, and the greatest buildings ever erected have been mementos of the dead. To-day this instinct to immortalize the names of those departed is as strong as ever, if not stronger, and it seeks, as the great gardens outside our cities show, every means that art can offer to express in the most artistic and beautiful manner the faith on which it leans.

What shall we do to keep fresh dear names? Shall they be written on stone or brass, cut in marble, or engraved on enduring copper? Shall there be a statue to recall the figure of the dead, or shall we repeat the vanished features on canvas? Or shall we go back to that good old art in which the great masters wrought with such splendor of color in glass? The idea of making a memorial monument of a window seems to have taken a strong hold on the minds of the early workers in stained glass. Figures of the saints, pictures from Scripture history, and story and inscriptions commemorative of kings and heroes, are everywhere to be seen in the old cathedrals. It is an idea that seems to abide with us now, even though the art of making stained glass had been, until within the past few years, regarded as a lost art.

Until quite recently we have occupied a rather peculiar position in this country. Science and all the industries grew rapidly, while art seemed to be partially neglected. This was particularly true of the art of making stained-glass windows. There has been an impression that nothing could be made now to compare with the work of the old masters in this art, and this art has been neglected until within the last few years by those who wish to build memorials to their dead, and we have few memorial windows in our churches. Added to the fact that much of the stained glass was of poor material was the fact that many of the windows were painted in some unmeaning design and of no art value as memorials.

Within a very few years all this has been greatly changed, and this ancient art has been developed and made a means of constructing the most remarkable memorial windows ever seen in our churches.

The art of making stained-glass windows was for a very long time one distinct method. The picture or design was painted on colored glass, the painting being fixed to the glass by reburning it and binning the color in. By the present improved system the picture is produced entirely of glass, without paint, and the "modeling" or variations in light and shade are obtained by picking out pieces of glass of the right thickness, thus producing an absolutely indestructible window. By the first system the glass for the different parts of the drapery is selected and cut to the right shape, and it is then painted to show the folds or modeling (light and shade) of the dress. By the new plan the pieces of glass are picked out with the greatest care to show in the glass itself the folds of the drapery. Without doubt this is the best method, because it is not possible to produce in paint the wonderful effects of light and shade often found in the glass itself. The softness and delicacy of the shading by the varying thickness of the glass
PSM V35 D042 The good shepherd.jpg
The Good Shepherd.

From Frederick J. Shields's painting.

are beyond reproduction by the brush. Moreover, the effect being in the glass, and not painted on it, it is indestructible and will neither fade nor change in value. The aërial perspective of a range of hills can be better produced in the glass itself by careful selection. We find, therefore, that in the best work produced to-day the modeling or pictorial effects arc produced in the glass itself, and only the face and hands are painted.

In this new glass we have the material for the most beautiful and the most enduring memorials that can be erected. In the memorial window in our church, perhaps near the very seat where the departed once sat, it seems as if memory had a perpetual and beautiful reminder of those who have gone before. The sunshine seems to intensify the beauty of the picture, and even on cloudy days it shines with only less splendor. Of all the things that have been made or formed, glass seems to be the most enduring. Only fire makes any impression on it, and a memorial window of good glass will be as bright as ever long after marble and brass have lost their legends.

A few years ago Mr. Louis C. Tiffany had his attention drawn to the possibilities of glass as a material for memorial windows, and he set himself to work to study the making of stained glass. The Tiffany Glass Company, of New York, was formed, and the wonderful advance in the art that has been described above is very largely due to its efforts. It is to this company we now owe most of the magnificent memorial windows that have been placed in the last few years in our churches. It is seldom that business and art are so successfully united as in the instance of this company. It is able to produce a window that gives greater satisfaction to those wishing to erect a memorial than the same expenditure in other directions. In consequence of its extended facilities and the greater demand for its work, the cost of each window is much less than formerly. The selection of the glass, and arrangement of colors for all work undertaken, is controlled by the most talented artists. Its cartoons are drawn by men whose merit and ability are universally acknowledged. All necessary painting is done by painters of national reputation. The best architectural advice is gained through association with an eminent member of that profession. It has surrounded itself by a corps of artisans, many of whom have received the best European schooling. It has succeeded in training and educating a far more intelligent class of men in its work than have been formerly engaged in the same art.

Recently, the Tiffany Glass Company has devoted much attention to Gothic windows of the more conventional style as employed by the English and other foreign workers. The result of its efforts in this direction has been considered eminently successful, by those who have hitherto favored European work. Windows made from purely ecclesiastical or Gothic designs by it and executed in glass of their own manufacture undoubtedly surpass, in depth and richness of color, the European work of this period, and certainly equal it in design. It is able, therefore, to make a window superior to the best examples of European art in a much shorter time and at a correspondingly low cost. Hence it secures many orders for work which was formerly executed abroad. The work that it has done represents not only the talent of many of the leading American painters of the day, but also many foreign masters of this period and the past.

It is now acknowledged that our American work surpasses in artistic value any that has been made since the thirteenth century. While much credit is due to our population, in consequence of its appreciation and encouragement, and much to individual artists, in consequence of their personal efforts, the Tiffany Glass Company is chiefly responsible for the gratifying results. The difficulties encountered during the first experiments, in improving' the glass, were enormous, but have in time all been overcome, and to-day we maj' rejoice in one of the greatest artistic successes of modern times.

With a very few single exceptions, the many windows which we see constantly mentioned or described under art headings have been the work of the company named. Its influence has effected all of the good work that has been done during the past few years. Although the company is called "The Tiffany Glass Company," its name is closely associated with a vast amount of other decorative work which, while also controlled by it, is conducted under a separate department.

It is in the glass-work and its wonderful improvements and artistic treatment that the chief interest lies, and it may be worth while to note what are the special features that recommend the work of the company to all intending to erect memorial windows. The demand for such windows is increasing rapidly, and within the past six months the company has erected more windows than during the previous two years. The peculiar quality and tones of the glass exclusively used by the Tiffany Company and the artistic treatment of the material have placed its work at the head of all such work both here and in Europe. Its windows give greater satisfaction and pleasure, because, considered both as windows and as artistic memorials, they are superior to the usual painted windows of London or Munich.

There are many things to be considered in an artistic window. The aspect or relation to the sunlight, whether it be a north window or exposed to full sunshine; the architecture of the building, the shape and position of the window, the color of the walls, the style of the interior decorations—all have to be considered. It is the claim of the Tiffany Company that, by reason of its immense stock of glass, the special training and skill of the artists and workmen employed, those considerations are met with success, and it is not a matter of surprise that windows erected by this company are to be found scattered all over the country in both churches and public and private buildings of all kinds.

It is certainly a matter of congratulation that this advance in art-work comes just now. Since the Centennial our people have started out upon what may be called the most remarkable educational movement ever seen. Since the great Exhibition came to show us just where we stood, we have striven to reach the place held by European peoples who have had better chances than we to see the best work.

It is not in our churches alone that "storied windows" are so valuable. The new methods of making glass enable the artist to reproduce designs in a free and unconventional manner hitherto impossible with the painted glass. Jewel-work that sparkles in every color and shape is often used in domestic glass with delightful results. A dining-room window admits of free treatment in both color and design, and full play can be given for every fanciful conceit in decoration. A hallway also gives scope for fine work, and this we may have, close beside us in our own home, the beautiful art hitherto confined to churches and cathedrals. "Storied windows" assume now a new value, because there is a new medium for the artist. The artist himself can well rejoice in the grand material now made in our glass-works, and feel confident that there is a steadily growing appreciation of the fact that whatever is good and true in art abides.

Copyright, 1888, by THE TIFFANY GLASS CO. All rights reserved.
333 and 335 Fourth Avenue, New York. Pullman Building, Chicago. Ill.
35 and 37 Provence Street, Boston, Mass.