Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cowardly Lion and the Grinch

Detail from a window on the west side of the lounge of the Scottish Rite Cathedral
These pictures were taken in the lounge of the Scottish Rite Cathedral of Indianapolis. The first and second images are details of windows designed and installed in 1975 by the Willet Stained Glass Studio of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I refer to them as the "Cowardly Lion" and the "Grinch" because I think they closely resemble those characters.

Detail from window on west side of lounge.
Located in downtown Indianapolis, the Scottish Rite Cathedral was designed by architect George F. Schreiber in the Neo-Gothic style. Built in 1927-1929, its proportions are divisible by three, representing the three degrees of Free Masonry. It is the largest Masonic building in the United States.

One of the eight windows on the east side
of the Cathedral lounge, representing
mechanical and civil engineering
The stained glass windows on the east side of the lounge are dedicated to the arts and sciences: engineering, electricity, sculpture, architecture, art, music, law and medicine. They were created by the Von Gerichten Glass Company of Munich, Germany, where they were made and Columbus, Ohio where they were assembled, then installed in 1929.
Stained glass window depicting the artist
and his model in his studio
The Von Gerichten Art Glass Studio was established in 1891 at Cullman, Alabama by Ludwig Von Gerichten, who had immigrated from Germany to the United States. In 1893, joined by his brother Theodore, they moved the business to Columbus, Ohio where it was called Capitol City Glass Company. As the business's reputation grew, the brothers again changed its name in 1898 to The Von Gerichten Art Glass Company.

From the time the brothers opened their business until it was was closed in the late 1930's, the company created over 1800 windows for approximately 850 churches in the United States. In 1914, they opened a studio in Munich where Ludwig spent much of his time, while Theodore remained in Columbus. Unfortunately, a lot of the company's clients felt that German craftsmanship was superior to American work. Since all the work was done by German artisans, there was no foundation to this prejudice. The result was that work was often done in Germany at added expense, then brought to the US for assembly and installation. Such was the case with the Scottish Rite windows.

From time to time, I meet a group of friends for lunch at the Cathedral, which is why I had the opportunity to take these pictures. I will return in the near future to add to this little portfolio of beautiful color and craftsmanship, which I promise to share.


dive said...

Oh, my. That's beautiful, Speedway. I can't wait to see the results of your next visit.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries American studios dragged the art of stained glass out of its mediæval morass and gave it a marvellous new life, something we over on this side of the pond can only thank you for.

Speedway said...

Thank you, Dive. Looking at the other pictures posted, I knew I had some stained glass from the local SR, but just a few.
Thes were taken in winter when the light was decent only on the east side.

There are another two places here locally that may be of interest, so will have to get those in the future, as well.

Did you look at the link for Willet? Their portfolio is just jawdropping. And, as it turns out there are a couple companies north of here which manufacture the glass, and I've visited Blenko Glass in West Virginia to watch their artisans produce blown glass vases, etc. They also make glass for stained glass artisans.

dive said...

The Willet site is wonderful. I'm a huge fan of stained glass, helped by the fact that an ex girlfriend is one of England's finest stained glass artists (which is why my house is full of stained glass panels and Tiffany lamps). She's an authority on Tiffany and one of the very few people allowed to use Tiffany's original glass stockpile that's hidden away here in England.

Plus of course it's pretty to look at.

Speedway said...

When I was about 8, I read a story in one of my primary school readers about a little boy who was apprenticed to help build a cathedral near his village. I read the story over and over. As it turned out he learned to make stained glass windows. The one he worked on became a rose window in the cathedral. Every time I see stained glass I think of that little boy and his life spent on the church.

Paul said...

I have always loved stained glass windows and these are truly beautiful works. I especially love the lion, he really has character. Paul at Leeds in Yorkshire daily photography

Speedway said...

Hello, Paul, and welcome to my little blog. The windows really are beautiful. The bit with the lion was among those added in 1975. I hope the light is better the next time I visit so I can get more, and better pictures.

There's another church in town which has windows made by the Von Gerichten studio. I will have to see whether it's a place I can get into.

One is tempted to think of Indianapolis in the 19th Century as a sleepy village, isolated from the more sophisticated arts, but as I wander around the city looking for pictures, I find that the city fathers worked hard to dispel that image because there are a lot of beautiful old homes and buildings.

However, as the buildings were neglected and degraded over time, I can see how people thought of us as "Indiana-noplace." The Scottish Rite was built and completed just before the Great Crash. That may just be a coincidence, but I wonder what effect it had on the members of that time. More questions loom.