Tiffany Sanctuary

In 1894-1896, the sanctuary was completely redecorated by Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company with complex paint schemes on the walls and ceilings, elaborate trusses and traceries, an entrance vestibule, a choir stall, a bronze chancel rail, organ screens, decorative wainscoting, chancel furniture, a eagle lectern, a pulpit, pews, a baptismal font, glass mosaics, a huge art glass lantern.  The 42 large stained glass windows were designed, fabricated and installed 1893-1914.  The redecoration was one of the most extensive commissions undertaken by the Tiffany Company and included the entire church interior from floor to ceiling.  Three major artists, under the supervision of Louis Comfort Tiffany were involved over the 21 year process.

 

The sanctuary of Church of the Covenant embodies Louis Comfort Tiffany’s aesthetic of art, color and design unity where varied elements unite in a harmonious whole to create a space of timeless beauty and profound spirituality.  Tiffany’s artistic vision is here in the “aesthetic” colors of red, green and blue that tie the scheme together, and in the preoccupation with color, light and nature.

1879-1894 Sanctuary
1896 Tiffany Sanctuary

To begin a virtual sanctuary tour, refer to the map/layout below.

The numbers on the map reference the item number in the description next to each photograph in the tabs: Figure Windows and Elements if applicable.

 

Figure Windows include: The 20 complex figure windows which tell the dramatic stories of faith that artistically integrate into a unified decorative scheme.

Elements include: The lantern, fine mosaics, woodwork, paint schemes and the 22 ornamental windows in the clerestory (high windows above eye level) harmonize effortlessly with the decorative blue ceiling above.

Video:  Four minute video showcasing the many elements in the sanctuary with the organ playing.

Artists: Listing of the windows by date and designer.

Sanctuary Floor Plan

The figure windows represent the full scope of Tiffany’s glass art as an integral part of a complete Tiffany church interior.  Designed by three of Tiffany’s top designers, the 20 complex figure windows include at least nine types of specialty glass and up to five layers that allow for creative, painterly effects.

2) Nativity

2) THE NATIVITY  – Luke 2:15-18

Companion window (side by side with the Resurrection window) by Edward Peck Sperry of exquisite opalescent, drapery and ripple glass,  linked by the elegant angels in the sky above and by the ordinary people in these nativity-shepherds in a stable.  The two windows come together as one and the horizontal mullions are of both are diminished by dark clouds almost to the vanishing point.

3) Resurrection
3) Resurrection

3) THE RESURRECTION  –   Luke 24:1-5

 

Companion window (side by side with the Nativity window) by Edward Peck Sperry of exquisite opalescent, drapery and ripple glass,  linked by the elegant angels in the sky above and by the ordinary people in the resurrection scene-women at an empty tomb. The two windows come together as one and the horizontal mullions are of both are diminished by dark clouds almost to the vanishing point.

4) Emmaus

4)  EMMAUS  –   Luke 24:13-30

The Emmaus or Hospitality Window, also by Edward Sperry in brilliantly crafted glass and rich colors, continues the Resurrection story.  The day that three women found an empty tomb, two disciples met a stranger on the road home to Emmaus.  The action centers on welcoming an unknown stranger who later reveals himself as Christ.

5) Sparrow

5)   SPARROW  – Matthew 10:29

Based on one of Jesus’ parables, the Sparrow window is a tour-de-force of Tiffany art using drapery or ribbed glass for clothing, and mottled glass or confetti glass for the background.   Frederick Wilson designed this image of Jesus as a young working carpenter, with a yoke on his back, pausing to sympathize with the plight of a small bird that only he can see clearly.  The pelican in the rosette above is an emblem of charity and sacrificial love.

6) Joshua Before AI (Hope)

6) JOSHUA BEFORE AI (Hope). –  Deuteronomy 31: 7-9

 

Designed by J. A. Holzer, Tiffany’s chief mosaicist, this first (left) of the three windows in a series are noted for the sunset glass of the evening sky and the brilliant use of mosaic-like pieces of glass.  Here Joshua and Moses, head for the hoped-for land of milk and honey.

7) Jonathan and David

7) JONATHAN AND DAVID  (Love)  –   Samuel 23:16; I Corinthians 13:13                    

 

Designed by J. A. Holzer, Tiffany’s chief mosaicist, this second (center) of three windows which are noted for the sunset glass of the evening sky and the brilliant use of mosaic-like pieces of glass. Jonathan shows his generosity and love by giving David symbols of his wealth and power.

8) Abraham Leaving Ur

8) ABRAHAM LEAVING UR  (Faith) –  Genesis 12:1-5

Designed by J. A. Holzer, Tiffany’s chief mosaicist, the third (right) of three windows noted for the sunset glass of the evening sky and the brilliant use of mosaic-like pieces of glass.  Abraham and his family faithfully leave the fertile land for the wilderness.

9-12) Four Evangelists

9)   JOHN  –  John 1:1

10)  LUKE  –  Luke 4:4    

11)  MARK  –  Mark 13:31   

12)  MATTHEW  –  Matthew 13:43     

Designed by Frederick Wilson, the four Gospel writers stand in medieval-style niches, holding a book or scroll recounting the story of Jesus’ life and message. Above each window is an emblem associated with each writer: Matthew with a winged man, Mark with a winged lion, Luke with a winged ox, and John with an eagle. Their placement next to the pulpit reflects an emphasis on the writing and preaching of the Word.

13-16) Four Woman

13)   DORCAS  (Charity)  –  Acts 9:36-40

14)   MARY OF BETHANY  (Devotion)  –  Luke 10:42

15)   DEBORAH  (Courage)  –  Judges 4,5 16  

16)   MIRIAM  (Joy)  –  Exodus 15:20

Directly opposite the four Gospel writers, four women of the Bible represent the spirit of Christianity.  On the left, Miriam, the sister of Moses, raises her timbrel (a tambourine) and dances for joy.  Deborah, seriously staring ahead, is the judge and warrior in armor leaning on her shield. Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, looks faithfully up to God in prayer and Dorcas, who was raised from the dead because of her generosity, looks down at clothing she has made for the poor.

17) Glorified Church

17)  THE GLORIFIED CHURCH  –  Revelation 12:1-2; 19:7-9

Frederick Wilson’s interpretation of John’s Revelation is filled with color, light, movement and music making. The Bride of the Lamb, a woman clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet and above her head a crown of the twelve stars on her head and a gown decorated with pomegranates, the Christian symbol of the Resurrection (Rev. XII).  “Groups of eager saints and cherubs are pressing upward in wonder and pity until they disappear in the blue distance.”

18) Ascended Christ
18) Ascended Christ

18)  THE ASCENDED CHRIST  –   Revelation 14; 19:6-8

 

Frederick Wilson’s interpretation of John’s Revelation is filled with color, light, movement and music making.  “The Lamb as it has been slain, the ascended Christ.  As he stands upon the holy hill, cherubs and saints kneel and move before Him, without haste and without rest.  Their faces are lighted with His joy.”  Blessing the throng and holding in his hand the palm of the saints and of victory.

19) Madonna & Child

19)  MADONNA AND CHILD  –  John 15:1-17

This Peasant Madonna is an adaptation of an image by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret, a contemporary French artist known for religious and genre paintings of Breton peasants. Wilson translates the painting into stained glass using multiple layers, texture, color and light and integrates it into the design of the rosette above, where grape vines encircle a cross as a symbol of Communion and the Resurrection.

20) Angel & Cornelius

20)  THE ANGEL AND CORNELIUS  –   Acts 10:3

Cornelius, a wealthy Roman centurion known for his generosity to the poor, had a dream in which an angel announced: “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God”.  After experiencing this angelic vision, he sent for the apostle Peter and became the first Gentile to be baptized a Christian.

21) SAINT AUGUSTINE  –  De Beata Vita (On The Happy Life)

In his study, St. Augustine, looks up toward Heaven and addresses his deceased mother, Monica, who influenced him spiritually by her loving example:  “O my mother, I do believe that through thy prayers, God gave me a mind to think of, to love above all things, the discovery of truth and by thee to this I do attain.”  The window is dedicated to his mother by Dr. Edward L. Clark, the pastor responsible for the Tiffany decoration.

Lantern 2013
Lantern at the Chicago Fair 1893

1)  SANCTUARY LANTERN  –  Revelation 1:20

This stunning lantern was displayed at LC Tiffany’s ground breaking exhibit at the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition and has no equal in any church in America.  Designed by Jacob A. Holzer, the 6 ft. by 12 ft. lantern was constructed of art glass with bronze filigree and dangling glass balls and incorporates seven sculpted female angels representing the Seven Angels of the Seven Churches (of John’s Revelation).  After the exposition closed, it was purchased and given to the church.  Described as the grandfather of all Tiffany leaded glass lamps, the lantern is a spectacular centerpiece for the sanctuary.

The 22 windows of the clerestory above the nave, have been filled with Gothic tracery and an opalescent glass sky in two alternating patterns.  The blue and white effects, are achieved in the glass by careful blending and

executed entirely without the use of any paint, creates a most beautiful sky, as close as a person can come to the wonders of nature.  The slightest change in the intensity of outside light creates a change of color.  The glass sometimes sparkles, sometimes radiates a soft diffused light.

Byzantine mosaics in chancel with Gothic features.

Ornamental Gothic wood tracery trim added to the roof trusses.

 

Ceiling painted with a bright shade of blue with gold painting of the tracery pattern used throughout the sanctuary.

Eagle Lectern

Eagle lectern, also displayed by Tiffany at the Chicago Exposition.  Donated by…..

Carved stone baptismal font.

The walls were covered in an earthy red with features picked out in grey-green.  The apse is painted in a brocade-like trompe l’oiel treatment with gold accents.  When seen in person, this appears to be fabric.

Pulpit
Organ Screens
Pews with copper aisle plate

A quick overview of the many LC Tiffany elements that make up this National Historic Landmark

All the figurative windows, lantern, and glass mosaics were designed and created by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, under the supervision of Louis Comfort Tiffany from 1893 to 1914.

 

The Three major artists involved were:

J.A. Holzer

Edward Sperry

Frederick Wilson

 

Listed below are the Tiffany glass objects in the sanctuary by designer and date of installation.

 

1893 – 1894  –  J. A. Holzer

 

  • Tiffany Chapel Lantern
  • “Sunset” or “Landscape” windows
    1. Abraham as a symbol of Faith
    2. Joshua as a symbol of Hope
    3. Jonathan as a symbol of Love
  • Mosaics
  • Stenciling around and within the apse

 

1894 – 1898  –  Edward Sperry

 

  • Nativity window
  • Resurrection window
  • Emmaus window
  • Evangelists windows
    1. Matthew
    2. Mark
    3. Luke
    4. John

 

1898 – 1914  –  Frederick Wilson

 

  • Sparrow window
  • Augustine window
  • Madonna window
  • Cornelius window
  • Glorified Church window
  • Ascended Christ window
  • Four Women of Christianity
    1. Miriam
    2. Deborah
    3. Mary
    4. Dorcas
  • Clerestory windows (22)

 

Listing from “Louis C. Tiffany – Rebel in Glass” by Robert Koch  1964

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