Pegasus Medallion Connick Windows
Thoughts, news and comments concerning the art and craft of Connick Stained glass, published periodically by...

The Charles J. Connick Stained Glass Foundation, Ltd., Orin E. Skinner, Founder February, 1999
Directors and Officers: Theresa D.Cederholm    Jonathan L.Fairbanks    Elizabeth B. Johnson    Robert G.Windsor    Marilyn B. Justice, President

Stained Glass from the Studio of Charles J. Connick in the Collection of the
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Although the Charles J. Connick Studio was located in Boston, The Museum of Fine Arts in that city holds only three examples of its stained glass in its permanent collection. Furthermore, all three diverge dramatically from Connick’s usual religious subject matter executed in a Reform Gothic style.

One of the windows at the Museum of Fine Arts was commissioned in 1924 by Paris-educated sculptor and Museum School professor Frederick Warren Allen (1888-1961) for his studio at 27 Tavern Road (MFA #1991.449; H: 44 7/8”, W: 20 3/4”). Allen had agreed to make a bust of Charles Connick in trade for this stained glass window for his “Italian studio.” (1) A memorandum pertaining to the Allen window, found in the object file at the museum, bears the notation: “Make interesting sort of Italian thing.” Made of leaded stained glass, the window is executed in an Italian Renaissance revival style in which Allen and other Boston sculptors, including Richard Recchia and Bela Lyon Pratt, were working at the time.(2) The colors in the glass, predominately red, blue, yellow, and flesh tones, are also typical of the Renaissance. Mr. Connick and Professor Allen must have derived as much pleasure from designing the window as we do in speculating on the symbolism of the horns of plenty, held by a putto, which spill out a winged mermaid, Pan and his pipes, a fish, a butterfly, and a bird. Below, on the plinth on which the putto stands, are two more birds and a rabbit.  In the cartoon for the window are also shown the mustachioed head of a stern man and a bird with the head of a woman, both obviously intended to be identified, but omitted from the finished product.  In 1954 Adio di Baccari, Allen’s favorite student, was able to buy the studio. Happily, di Baccari salvaged the window before the studio was demolished in 1991 and gave it to the Museum. 

The other examples of Connick stained glass are two leaded oval medallion windows created in 1928 for the library of Gino L. Perera at 382 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston (MFA #’s 1986.356 and .357; 15” x 11 3/4” and 15” x 12”). These medallions were given to the Museum by the Charles J. Connick Foundation. At this time it is not known how they had made their way back to the Studio. Noted as “Job 1323,” the cost was $150 for each window! The windows are based on a poem titled “Ballad of Old Doc Higgins” by Leonora Speyer. (3) In this narrative “Old Doc Higgins,” who loves to fish, shoots “The Mermaid” because her “catterwaulin’ up the river” drove the fish away “just as they was bitin” and, even worse, “naked to the waist and sassy!”, she seduced his sister’s young son. In the end, phantom mermaids drown Old Doc Higgins “with their arms like wreaths around him, heavy, silver wreaths around him,/ Struggling, strangling,..../Thus he lies-/In a grave of running water, who had slain a deep-sea daughter.” One window depicts a dark suited, top hatted gentleman facing left, one finger to his lips, standing at the end of a path which leads to a white country church, perhaps contemplating the dark deed he has just committed. The other shows a mermaid in the right foreground, mouth open in surprise (at the sight of a gun?), her scaled tail surrounded by fish and other creatures of the deep. A large sun shines from the upper left. The clear, bright colors - red, blue, yellow, green - enhance the primitive and whimsical style. Connick referred to the subject of these works as a “pedagogue and his vision.” (4) 

While these three examples of Connick’s work in the MFA may differ from his church windows, they show the same use of pure, “antique” glass and dynamic color composition which made this studio famous. 

(1) Laurel Beetham (Allen’s granddaughter), paper for Professor Lewis, April 22, 1978, ADA files at MFA. 
(2) Each of these three sculptors executed one of the friezes on the Huntington Avenue facade of the MFA. 
(3) Leonora Speyer, Slow Wall, Poems New & Selected, 1939, Alfred A. Knopf, New York: pp. 117-124.
(4) Connick Foundation archives, thanks to Marilyn Justice.

Grateful thanks to:
Anne Dort Moffett, Department Assistant, American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts, for her delightful article printed above.
Joan Gaul, a free-lance writer who has specialized in the work of early stained glass makers in Pittsburgh, PA, for her account of the Glory in Glass exhibit.
Patricia Gibbons, Administrator of the Heinz Memorial Chapel, for her news of the Connick exhibit at the University of Pittsburgh.
Photographs of cartoons for the Frederick Allen window and the St. Patrick window, St. Vincent Ferrer from
Connick Archives, Fine Arts Department, courtesy of the Trustees, Boston Public Library.
Medallion photographs, “Old Doc Higgins” and “The Mermaid”, courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Please address questions, comments and/or gifts to The Charles J. Connick Stained Glass Foundation, 37 Walden
Street, Newtonville, MA 02460.
One definition of Window is "a means of obtaining information". Our newsletter will keep you informed of the Foundation's activities, the Connick
Collection in the Fine Arts Department of the Boston Public Library, and Connick news around the country.

Connick News

Glory in Glass: Stained Glass in the United States; Origins, Variety, and Preservation will be at the Gallery of the American Bible Society, 1865 Broadway, New York City until February 16, 1999.  The exhibition treats the history and techniques of religious stained glass from medieval times through present-day preservation. Windows, ranging widely in style and period—cartoons, watercolors, and tools—tell the story.  The catalogue’s multiple authors elaborate. Charles Connick, a frequent referent in the catalogue, is represented in the show by a watercolor detail of a chancel window at St. Vincent Ferrer.  Connick Associates is represented by sketches for the clerestory of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. In total the Connick Studio is represented by 14 watercolor sketches for windows located in St Patrick’s, St. Vincent Ferrer, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and Princeton University.

Creating a Sense of Place: Devotion Builds a Campus at the University Art Gallery, September 14, 1998 - December 11, 1998 was composed of four separated exhibits that focused on the diverse sponsorship of the public art and architecture at the University’s campus during the twentieth century. The curators for the exhibit were the students from the 1998 Museum Studies Seminar at the University of Pittsburgh.

The exhibit commemorating Heinz Memorial Chapel’s sixtieth anniversary was mainly a photographic survey of building. There were vintage pictures of the construction 1933-1938, photos showing details of the magnificent stone and iron work, and many wonderful shots of the Chapel’s magnificent Connick windows.  The highlight of the exhibit was the loan of two of the original gouaches from the Boston Public Library. The gouaches were for two aisle windows, which are at eye level. This allowed for close inspection and comparison of the gouaches with the finished product.

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