Monday, December 10, 2012

Tiffany Studios’ Wade Memorial Chapel, Cleveland, Ohio 1901

A few weeks back I visited the Wade Memorial Chapel in Cleveland.  It is one of the relatively few intact interior spaces designed and executed by Tiffany Studios.  And it’s a good one!  It definitely won me over.
The chapel, on the grounds of Lake View Cemetery, was built in 1901 in honor of Jeptha Wade, the Cleveland businessman who founded Western Union Telegraph Company.
The first element of the chapel constructed was the window on the north wall, which depicts The Flight of Souls.  It was displayed by Tiffany in the firm’s exhibit at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900, where it won a gold medal.

The chapel, though it has a certain monumentality, is a small space, with only four rows of pews separated by a center aisle.  The chapel was intended to be used for funeral services--that spot front and center is for a casket (though today the chapel is also used for weddings).

The side walls are covered by huge Favrile glass mosaics designed by Frederick Wilson.  The left wall depicts the prophecy and laws of the Old Testament and the right wall shows the fulfillment of those prophesies through Christianity.   Each measures 32 feet long by 8 feet high.
Detail of the floor mosaic
Detail of the inlaid mosaic on the end of each pew
The architecture (by local firm Hubbell and Benes) is fairly generic and definitely plays second fiddle to the decorative scheme.
Generally, I’m more a fan of earlier Tiffany works from the creative time when the historical precedent was a bit more difficult to nail down.  But the Wade Chapel has a pleasing Beaux-Arts classicism to it, much in the vein of McKim, Mead and White--all white marble, bronze and shimmering mosaic.
Travel tips:  Be sure to call ahead to make sure the chapel is open before visiting--visit the cemetery's website here.  Hours can be limited and varied depending on services and the time of year.  Also, the cemetery is near Case Western Reserve University and Hospital and traffic in the middle of the day was a nightmare in the neighborhood--factor that into your schedule.  The Cleveland Museum of Art is nearby as well. 

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg

Friday, October 26, 2012

Road Trip: Tiffany at First Presbyterian Church, Bath New York

Bath was definitely my favorite group of Tiffany on my recent road trip.  I’d visited Bath briefly over the summer, but since I was headed in that direction again, I decided to stop back in and take more pictures.  It’s definitely worth a second look. 
The church itself dates to 1877 and is the only extant church designed by architect Jacob Wrey Mould.  Mould was a great proponent of architectural polychromy (and yes, I am very excited to be able to whip out that term, which has lain dormant since graduate school!), where the structure of the building dictates the colored decoration.  His notable commissions include the original Metropolitan Museum of Art building, Belvedere Castle and other structures in Central Park.  His church in Bath has striped arches around the windows, an element which harkens back to Venetian architecture, one of Mould’s main influences. 
The interior of the church was remodeled by Tiffany Studios (maybe still going by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Co. then?) between 1895 and 1897.  There are some pretty amazing elements to note:
The windows throughout are geometric as opposed to figural, which I rather like.  The round window at the east end of the church has an outer border with red turtleback tiles and what looks like crown glass discs in the four quadrants.  I should have brought binoculars to get a good close up view!  

The transept and aisle windows are geometric as well.  The pattern is small scale and reminds me a bit of Tiffany Leaf and Vine (or Acorn) lamps.  
The east wall has unusual panels of what look like red glass tiles and studded, gilt-metal borders.  I wonder if this is the original finish and what the gold-colored material is in between the bumpy parts?  More glass, or metal? 
There is an outstanding pair of leaded glass lanterns at the east end of the church.  Each measures 55 inches high (according to the sexton) and has a double row of red turtlebacks above leaded panels separated by chunky jewels of glass.  
The chancel rail and pulpit are made of carved mahogany with inset mosaic details.  
The narthex of the church also has a Tiffany chandelier made of twisted wire, but it is currently on view at MOBiA’s exhibition, Louis C Tiffany and the Art of Devotion in New York. 

Next Tiffany stop:  Wade Chapel in Cleveland!  

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Vintage Panoramic Photos - Long and Lovely

Current obsession:  panoramic photos.
Some panoramic photos from my collection--the arrangement is a bit wonky because I keep adding to them!
The camera of the new iPhone 5 has a ‘panorama’ feature, but they are more than 100 years late to the party.  I’ve collected wide format photos for a while, but lately the quest for more has become a bit all-consuming.

Brooklyn Bridge, c. 1896, from the Library of Congress
These wide format photos, generally from the first half of the 20th century, depict everything from landscapes to baseball teams, bathing beauties, school portraits, dinner parties and any number of other gatherings.   Usually, they are big--sometimes called ‘yard-long’ photos--and though they were certainly made in other parts of the world, I like to think that they are particularly American in their attempt to capture the broad scope of the landscape and the people within it.
Top: Dogsledding on the Ziegler expedition to the North Pole, 1905  Bottom: The no-longer-extant Haleiwa Hotel, North shore of Oahu  Both from LOC.
First, the bad news about this blog post, and a cliche at that--the images I will put up of various panoramic photos really don’t do them justice.  They were printed in a large format for a reason.  The point of these large photos was to capture a large scene and allow your eye to slowly rove over the details.  Each face in the portrait or building in the city could be taken in and examined just as if you were there. 
Winter Bathing at Miami Beach, January 1921.  LOC.
A brief history:

Panoramas in the truest sense attempted to recreate an environment in 360 degrees.  Artists made the first efforts at large-scale paintings that depicted broad landscapes and battles. One such work is John Vanderlyn’s 1818 panorama of the Palace at Versailles, on view in the American Wing at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.  With the advent of photography, depicting a sweeping landscape became possible by using multiple plates.  For instance, a series of daguerreotypes of Cincinnati was taken in 1848 and showed the skyline of the midwestern town through eight successive photographs.
No. 10 Cirkut camera.  The circular section at the top of the tripod rotates on a clockwork. 
Panoramic photography really took off with the advent of film and in 1905, the Cirkut camera.  The camera was patented by William J. Johnston of the Rochester Panoramic Camera Company, which was almost immediately purchased by a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak.  This tool for panoramic photography then became more widely available throughout the US and across the globe.
Central Photo Co. of Washington DC setting up a panoramic photo at the US Capitol.  The firm is still in business.  
The Cirkut camera changed the game by using a simple clockwork (like a wind-up toy) to rotate the camera at the same rate the film advanced, allowing for a longer, uninterrupted exposure.  The largest Cirkut camera could shoot negatives that were 16 inches high and the 18 foot length of film could be cut to any size (Photographic Apparatus for the Professional, c.1906, pp. 17-19).  Most photos I have are in the 2-3 foot length range, but some photos measured as long as five feet.
Land of Flowers dance, Florida, circa 1920.  LOC.
The best way I found to learn how a panoramic photo is made is to check out The Library of Congress website.  They have an amazing collection of panoramic photos, as well as videos that show how they were produced.  Check out the demonstration here.
Yale Varsity Crew and Substitutes, 1911.  LOC.
I have spent *hours* on the site--you can search their photos by subject, location and photographer.  I also recommend America by the Yard: Cirkut Camera Images from the Early Twentieth Century by Robert B. MacKay--it's a nice large format with lots of fold outs to give you a good sense of the images.
Detail from the Yale Crew photo
Group portraits are are my favorite type of panoramic photo.  I’m not exactly a ‘joiner’--group activities give me a bit of a twitch--but somehow the dynamics within these group portraits fascinate me.  I play The Breakfast Club game--who was the Princess, the Brain, the Jock?  Are they having fun at the gathering?  Was anyone misbehaving?  And the fashions from different eras are always fun to look at, too.  The shoes, the hair!
Tuckerton (NJ) High School class photo at Mount Vernon, 1926. From my personal collection.

Loving the men's fashions
Sullen teenager alert!  
One of the issues with panoramic photography is the distortion caused by the rotation of the camera--you can end up with that wonky fish-eye effect where straight lines appear drastically curved.  In group portraits, the trick is to arrange the people in the picture in a way that corrects the distortion.  Usually, the front row of people will be lined up in a curve that corresponds to the arc of the rotating camera.  On film, the people appear in straight lines--but when you look, you can see that there is often a pretty big gap between the people in the front row and the row behind them, especially at the ends.
Chi Psi fraternity boys at Williams College, 1963--a relatively late example.
I mainly buy group portraits taken at historic locations such as Mount Vernon or Niagara Falls.  I also like landscapes if they have something of particular interest to me (places I’ve been or would like to go, cute vignettes with people).  I like the military photos the least, because all I can think of is ‘how many of these young soldiers went off to war and died a horrible death?’  Not fun on my wall. 
Detail of photos from my collection--the beach scene at the lower right is Long Beach, California, circa 1920
On my wish list:  group portraits at Mount Rushmore, New York, Niagara Falls, Mount Vernon and other famous sites; beach or surfing scenes; and anything shot in Hawaii!

I’ll write a separate post about fun tricks found in panoramic photos…
From Decorology.
I sometimes have panoramic photos in my Etsy shop--come check them out here

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg except where noted

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Road Trip: Clematis Window by Tiffany Studios at the Dr. Sylvester Willard House, Auburn, NY

My last Tiffany stop in Auburn--the Dr. Sylvester Willard House and its lovely clematis window.  A Tiffany window in its original domestic setting is pretty tough to come by, so it was nice to see this one.  

Before he was memorialized at the chapel at Union Theological Seminary (see my post on that here), Dr. Sylvester Willard was a practicing doctor in Auburn.  Working from his home on East Genesee Street, Dr. Willard welcomed patients to his apothecary through a later side entrance (1852) to the grand Greek Revival mansion (1830s/1840s).  
Don't be like me--it only occurred to me to take images of the exterior of the house as I was leaving and sitting at the stop light... You can just see the rounded addition to the house at the far right and the Tiffany window is the one that is cut off...
The Tiffany window is at the center, with an entrance at the top of each staircase on either side.  
When Willard died in 1886, it is not clear how this side entrance was used by his surviving daughters, Georgina and Caroline.  Tiffany’s work on the Willard Memorial Chapel began in 1892 and though there are no surviving papers known regarding the commission of the clematis window, the staff at the museum suggests that the window dates to around 1890, before the Chapel, but this seems a bit early to me.  I might have guessed closer to 1900 or so?   
It's hard to see in this shot, but the top left corner of the top panel is pretty severely bowed, damage that was purportedly incurred during a fire in the house. 
Clematis was frequently seen in Tiffany’s works, especially in domestic windows.  
A large clematis skylight from the Harbel house in Akron, Ohio, c. 1915.   Sold at Christie's in 1998. 
A lovely Peony and Clematis window (1900-1910)  from The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass
A window with trumpet creeper, clematis, hollyhock and nasturtium, c. 1905, commissioned for a house in Irvington, NY.  Now at the Corning Museum of Glass
Tiffany used clematis in lamp design, too--this one from Christie's, December 2008.  
The window at the Willard mansion needs a bit of restoration, but it’s great to see a Tiffany window in its original domestic setting.  
There are a few cracks and small losses--pretty typical for windows like this.   
The Willard house is now the Cayuga Museum & Case Research Lab. Learn more here.  

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg