"The Good Shepherd"
The Good Shepherd Window stained glass window was the gift, in 1913, of former Governor Ebenezer Sumner Draper and his wife, Nancy Bristow Draper. It suggests motifs from the twenty-third Psalm. It is so placed that there is no time of day or night when it is better illuminated than at the hour of Sunday services. It is made of Tiffany glass and is so well proportioned, so well done, that it gives rest to the spiritual and physical eye which views it. The following commentary was delivered during a Sunday service devoted to an appreciation of this window.
The Hopedale Unitarian Parish "Good Shepherd" Stained Glass Window
History, Color, and Design all came together in this beautiful stained glass window created by Tiffany Studios in 1913. The window was a gift of Eben and Nancy Draper of the family that owned the Draper Corporation here in town. Ebenezer Sumner Draper was Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1909-1911.
HISTORY. The window was probably ordered at the time that the church was being built in the late 1890’s but was not installed until 1913. Clear glass would have been put in its place before the installation of the window. Why the long wait? History dictated it. The large scenes of stained glass showing beautiful landscapes, and in some cases figures like ours, were all the rage. Actually building was all the rage – universities, libraries, town halls, and…churches. Backed by industrialists, like the Drapers, and by new inventions of the day, the United States was entering the modern age. The telephone, the phonograph, the electric lamp and then the internal combustion engine and cars were reshaping the cities and towns all across the country. There was a religious expansion as well. Over 4,000 churches of all denominations were built in the last two decades of the 19th century. This church was one of them. And windows from Tiffany Studios were in high demand. Orders would be placed many years before delivery.
Louis Comfort Tiffany was an expert in decorative arts and interior design. But he also was interested in chemistry. Unsatisfied with the colored or stained glass available to him from regular sources, he created his own glassmaking factory in 1893 and started to experiment like never before. He would mix all sorts of materials into the glass while it was hot and in molten form to create new colors and all sorts of new effects, effects that reflected the art nouveau style popular at the time.
COLOR. Swirls of color, milky opalescence, and even shiny metallic iridescence in the glass were some of his unique results.
Look at the sky at the top right of the window and behind the Shepherd’s head: the yellow, orangey pink. This is the swirling or in this case almost gradated opalescence.
Look at the valley to the left behind the two sheep. Opals show their color peaking out from behind a whitish glow. So here, this glass looks like a soft carpet of green, white, gray and tan with a real brightness behind it. This particular effect was also enhanced with plating. Tiffany would put 3-6 layers of different colored glass together to create just the right effect. This also means that at different times of day, the colors look different.
Now, look at the rocks and valley behind the sheep on the right – the brownish moss and the dappled shady areas are metals mixed into the glass. This process created the shininess and texture that was not possible before Tiffany’s experimentation.
DESIGN. And then there is the design. Tiffany’s signatures are all here. One large picture instead of panels of many scenes. A beautiful landscape as the base of the window – unheard of before. And look how the color is laid out in the window. The leading – or the metal that holds the glass together and creates the sections – is used as outline material much more than in other stained glass windows. So you have a mixture of very large pieces like the reddish orange above the Shepherd’s head and the many small pieces of glass in the poppy field on the bottom left. Tiffany loved poppies and included them often. The darkness of the tree branches above especially to the right is also created with the leading.
Instead of all this leading, other windows would have used more painting onto the glass to create outlines. Tiffany Studios kept this to a bare minimum – here on the face, hands and feet of the Shepherd and the faces of the sheep.
Thousands of Tiffany windows are in churches all across America. There are also other Good Shepherds, and I have seen photos of them. Each one is different. In some the Shepherd or Jesus figure is looking down, in others there is a halo – the stance is different or the placement of the figure in the valley is different. The types of trees and flowers and the number of sheep also vary. This window is particularly compelling, a lovely and, I think, inspirational example of the Tiffany work.
Orders for windows all but stopped with the onset of World War I in 1914. The days of expansion had ended. Nevertheless, the windows continued to be delivered into the 1920’s. Those Tiffany Lamps that we all know so well were made out of the left over scraps of glass for another decade after that. The heyday was past, leaving behind this window, this scene, this Shepherd for us to ponder and enjoy.
February 22, 2004
Sources: Duncan, Alastair; Tiffany Windows. 1980 Simon and Shuster. Duncan, Alastair; Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1992 National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Koch, Robert; Louis C. Tiffany, Rebel in Glass, 1982 Crown. Tesa, Paul; The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1987 Exeter Books.
The Medallion Window (Side Window of Sanctuary)
The handsome Medallion Window was a gift, in 1915, from George A. Draper and his wife,
Jessie Preston Draper. This window is an example of the best type of Medieva: design of medallion windows of the thirteenth century,
but it has stronger design and detail than the Medieval ones because in this window no paints are used. The background is composed
of very small jewel-squares, alternating ruby and sapphires.
The round center medallions represent scenes in the life of Christ. This window is also made in American Tiffany glass.
Announcement of the Nativity to the Shepherds by the Angel
Announcement by the Angel to Mary that she will bear the Savior
Jesus teaching in the Temple
Jesus baptised by John
Jesus gathers his disciples
Jesus appears after the Crucifixion
Jesus waits in the garden of Gethsemane while the disciples sleep
The Last Supper