Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
May 18, 2024
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Art
January 17, 2024
Volume 194 No. 3

Hidden Gems

The story of the Chapman Window at Glenwood Chapel
<p>The Chapman Window at Glenwood Chapel (Sarah Hall)</p>
The Chapman Window at Glenwood Chapel (Sarah Hall)

Special to the Gazette

In 1917, Clarence Cheney Chapman, residing at 555 Park Ave in New York City, walked or took the trolley to J & R Lamb Studios in Greenwich Village. 

He could have gone to Tiffany Studios, which was even closer to home, but he did not. Perhaps it was the cost, or maybe Lamb Studio could do the work sooner. We don’t know the reason for his choice of maker. What we do know is that he wanted to commission a stained glass window to memorialize his father and grandfather.

It is likely that the death of Clarence’s father in 1915 prompted the commission. The finished window would need to be crated and shipped to Canada, then installed by glaziers in Picton. It would have been expensive. Clarence could have donated the window to his family’s church in Picton.  But instead, he chose Glenwood Chapel — and a Masonic connection.                                        

The memorial is a tribute to Dr. Reuben Jerald Chapman (1803–1885) and his son Charles Augustus Chapman (1838–1915). The inscription reads:  In Loving Memory of Dr. Reuben J. Chapman and of his son Charles A. Chapman.

Dr. Reuben Chapman, the grandfather, was a well-known chemist in Picton, and one of the founders of Glenwood Cemetery. A strong bond between the three generations was the Masonic brotherhood.      

Among the windows in Glenwood Chapel, this one stands out.  It is in a very different artistic style, reflecting new materials and techniques in stained glass. This window sits just to the left of the main doorway and is as intriguing from the outside as it is from the inside.

For many years, the Chapman Window was a subject of mystery and speculation.  Because it is similar in style and technique to Tiffany Studios, many thought it was a Tiffany Window.  Research in the Picton Gazette Archives, however, confirms it was made by Lamb Studios. Additionally, David Bleckman, of Lamb Studios — which is still in operation — identifies in their own archives the corresponding inscription, date, location, measurements, and patron for the window.

It was designed by Fredrick Lamb, son of one of the Studio’s founders. Trained as a painter in Paris, he was strongly influenced by the experiments conducted by John La Farge and Louis Comfort Tiffany to create and integrate translucent opalescent glass into leaded windows. They wanted to create glass of varying colouration, eliminating the need to paint and fire it.

The window is fabricated in the traditional leaded technique. Several of the glass pieces are ‘plated’ to give a sense of depth. The small flowers at the base were made using acid-etched flashed blue glass.

The design shows a river valley through an archway of golden Maple trees in autumn.  The composition gives a quiet feeling of invitation and shelter, with an infinite horizon beyond. This type of landscape composition was a favourite in Art Nouveau windows. There are no specific Christian (or other) symbols. Aside from the inscription, the glass is neither painted nor silver stained.  The design achieves its effect through multi-coloured translucent opalescent glass.

Complex and difficult shapes were cut to create this window. The lead work is fine and delicate, adding to its ethereal quality. It has beautiful colouration and is certainly the artistic gem of the Chapel.

Using opalescent glass for a landscape-style window was exceptionally popular by the time this window was commissioned. It represents a distinctive “American Style” in stained glass. The Chapman Window in Glenwood Chapel is a fine example of its era.

One of the pleasures of historical research is gaining insight into the objects that surround us in our daily lives.  The Chapman Window offers a story of love, respect, and memory that spans three generations.  It also brings a welcome human dimension to the tale of Glenwood Chapel and its stained glass windows.

Sarah Hall, CM, RCA is a stained glass artist with a strong interest in the history of her medium. For further information please see: Glenwood Chapel – Secret Societies and their Stained Glass. 

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 3 edition of The Picton Gazette
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