Over the course of its 50-year history, Tiffany Studios produced an estimated 5,000 windows, many of them with religious subjects, like this memorial window. The designer, Frederick Wilson, was Louis C. Tiffany’s most prolific religious stained glass window designer, and he served as the head of the ecclesiastical department at Tiffany Studios.
Although Tiffany began making stained glass windows in the late 1870s, he did not hire a fulltime ecclesiastical designer until Wilson, who began working at the Studios in the early 1890s. Prior to Wilson, Tiffany did not use in-house designers, but instead hired outside muralists and painters to produce window designs. Some designs were original, while others incorporated elements from famous paintings by Botticelli, Leonardo, and Raphael, in addition to the work of later painters, such as Bougereau and Millet. Wilson gave the religious stained glass windows produced by Tiffany Studios a more cohesive look and identifiable style.
For its religious windows, Tiffany Studios offered a catalogue of stock subjects that clients could choose from, and the designs could be ordered with additional decorative elements. This is the case with this window, in which a banner with words from Scripture—which appears in one of Wilson’s preparatory drawings—has been replaced with a large glass jewel-studded cross.
The theme of the window celebrates victory over death, and the joyous hope of resurrection. Tiffany’s outlook was more optimistic than that depicted in most 19th-century stained glass memorials, in which the subjects of mourning and death— illustrated by weeping angels or the crucifixion—predominated.
This memorial window is dedicated to the memory of Charles Green (1811–1901). It was commissioned by Ira Dewayne Brainard (1846–1914) and his wife, Mary Genevie Green Brainard (1847–1931), for the United Methodist Church in Waterville, New York.
Built in 1860, the Waterville United Methodist Church was renovated in 1902 and during the 1950s. The church was in use until a new church was built in 1967, at which time the old church was sold. Like many 19th-century churches in the small towns of New York State, the building was adapted for other uses. The former church has served as an auction house, a store, and it is now a private residence. The Tiffany window was removed at the time of its sale in 1967, or soon after.
The window was bought by the donors, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Randall, in the late 1960s, and they gave the window to the Museum in 1996. When the window arrived, it was disassembled. It needed cleaning and restoration of its support structure, and it was too tall to fit into the Museum’s galleries. The window was preserved in crates in Museum storage until 2012, when it was requested on loan for an exhibition by the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBiA) in New York City. The window was conserved and exhibited at MOBiA, and then returned to the Museum and installed—without its memorial panel—in this gallery.
The window’s memorial panel was added to the bottom of the window, beneath and separate from the main scene. A photograph of it appears next to this label, and it is because of this panel that we know the history of this window. The memorial panel is inscribed:
[“The Righteovs Shall Receive a Crown of Glory” /
To The Glory of God /
In Memoriam /
1811 Charles Green 1901]
It references the biblical passage in Peter 5:4: “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” In the window, two angels escort the deceased into the light of heaven, up marble stairs toward a large cross supported by three angels.