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, 2002
Directors and Officers
Theresa D.Cederholm    Peter Cormack (Hon.)    Judith G. Edington    Jonathan L.Fairbanks    Elizabeth B. Johnson    Robert G.Windsor    Marilyn B. Justice, President

Working in the Connick Archives Now and Then
by Noreen O'Gara

In 1982 I was working at the Boston Public Library as a fine arts librarian and I was seeking a topic for my masters thesis in order to complete my degree in Art History from Tufts University. Since I worked full time it was important to find something I could research in the Boston area. I was drawn to American art and architecture but my main focus was art from the Medieval period. Finally, wiser heads than mine pointed me in the right direction - Harcourt Street. Thanks to my professors, Madeline Caviness and the late Margaret H. Floyd, I found the perfect subject - Charles J. Connick! Here was an American stained glass artist who was inspired by the Gothic art that I loved. Best of all, his studio was still in operation and it was right around the corner from the library.

I was able to spend hours in Harcourt Street talking to the craftsmen, particularly Ralf and Harald Nickelsen and Louis Comacho, who had worked in the studio for many years. Orin Skinner, President of the Connick Associates, was a great source of information and a marvelous storyteller. I was not just doing research I was being entertained, too. The last two office managers, Kai Ketchen and Becky Breymann, graciously helped me track down every letter, file, and photograph I needed. It was wonderful experience and my thesis "Charles J. Connick: the Early Years" would never have been completed without the cooperation of the Connick Associates.
St. Nicholas of Myra
St. Nicholas of Myra, patron saint of schoolboys, chancel window (1919) in chapel at Saint Mark's School, Southborough, MA.
Photograph courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library.

Twenty years later I am delighted to be working on Connick again and although I left the BPL in 1989 the Connick Archives arrived there shortly after the studio closed its doors in 1987. The archive is well organized and easy for any researcher to use if they let the Fine Arts Department know in advance what their needs are and what files they wish to access. My anxious emails and desperate phone calls are always answered in a kind and helpful manner. The staff is also very knowledgeable; their suggestions have led me to supplemental information, such as, web sites related to specific commissions. Their assistance is much appreciated.

The Connick Archive includes a number of beneficial tools for researching stained glass windows. These include a list of windows by geographic location in one set of notebooks and another set of notebooks containing the job sheets in chronological order starting with #551 (1914). There are also typescripts with a list of books from the studio's library and a numerical list of jobs beginning with number 500 (1912). Files include photographs of the actual windows as well as the designs upon which they were based, descriptions of the windows that identify and explain each commission's iconography, and finally the correspondence files for individual jobs. All of these resources are helpful for the researcher but the correspondence files provide the greatest insight into Connick and his circle.

The files for St. John the Divine Cathedral, New York City, for example, contain materials written over a period of nearly thirty years. The earliest letters date from 1913 and concern a small commission for the Synod House but the folders also include materials written as late as 1940. The documents in the correspondence files illuminate Connick's dealings with Ralph Adams Cram. The early letters are somewhat careful and formal, while the honesty and warmth of their friendship shines through their later correspondence. Connick's dealings with the other glassmen whose works appear in the Cathedral are documented here as well. In 1914 and again, in 1917, Connick, D'Ascenzo, and Heinigke appeal to Cram to hire American, not English, stained glass studios to fill the lights of the great Cathedral. In the 1930s there are several references to meetings hosted by Cram to discuss using harmonious colors and figure styles among

all the stained glass craftsmen who were working on the Cathedral. The tones of these letters are always amiable and respectful. The files also demonstrate how Connick dealt with the clergy at the Cathedral. His earliest relations with Canon Jones were cordial and Jones even deferred to Connick's greater knowledge of iconography in a letter dated May 9, 1921. Relations with Jones' successor, Rev. B. Talbot Rogers, were less happy. After a steady stream of complaints and concerns by Rogers, Connick wrote to Cram in frustration "I wonder if you know this Dr. Rogers who is pestering me with these pernicious notes? I have been told that I should pay no attention to him, but at the same time such miserable suspicions hurt my feelings, to say the least....Here is an excellent indication that the art of stained glass is a lost art, and so I jump into my book again, with renewed vigor." (September 23, 1933). 

Continued on the OVERLEAF.
Grateful thanks to all those who kindly gave recent contributions to The Connick Foundation supporting the ongoing work of newsletters and annual lectures along with our special projects of films, books and exhibitions helping people to understand the inspiring beauty of stained glass.
Please address questions, comments and/or gifts to Marilyn B. Justice, President, at The Connick Foundation.
St. George of Cappadocia
While Connick tried hard to make his patrons happy and responded to their many concerns and queries with patience, he did not display the same forbearance with members of his own staff. He wrote to Paul Child (Julia's husband) regarding the windows he was designing for the American Church in Paris on January 23, 1930. The letter begins abruptly: "Perhaps you have forgotten some of the details of the craft that you learned long ago - else you would not be surprised that I want actual sizes for all the windows even though only the cartoons are to be made here." Connick continues with a lengthy list of instructions and then precedes to discuss salary and payment before he ends on a more conciliatory note by thanking Child for shipping a Lalique bird from Paris and sends greetings "to all your folk."

The Connick Archive is filled with many wonderful letters, drawings, and photographs waiting to be uncovered. Scraps of paper covered with notes and sketches, scribbled drawings on the margins of letters all add to the sense of immediacy and discovery for the lucky researcher. Many of the stories and anecdotes I heard from Mr. Skinner and the other craftsmen at the studio can be rediscovered in these files. The Archive contains rich rewards for anyone interested in the history of American stained glass, American architecture or even the cultural life of Boston in the twentieth century.

Noreen O'Gara works as the young adult and reference librarian at the Bedford Free Library, Bedford, MA.

St. George of Cappadocia, chancel window (1919) in chapel at Saint Mark's School,
Southborough, MA. Photograph courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library.

Connick Windows

"I want to make beautiful interiors for both churches and souls

I want...[all people] to hear my windows singing..."

Charles J. Connick

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