Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows

"The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows is the only museum in the United States dedicated exclusively to stained glass windows.

The Museum is a Millennium gift to the people of Chicago from Maureen and Edward Byron Smith, Jr., and their sons Edward and Peter Smith.  The Smith family has been collecting stained glass windows since 1970.  Their interest in Chicago history is represented by both  secular and religious windows from Chicago.  The family was dedicated to saving these important works of art at a time that stained glass fell out of fashion during the 1960s to 1990s and was in danger of being discarded and destroyed.

Mission and Goal

The Museum's mission is to become a world-class museum that collects, exhibits and interprets stained glass windows, more than half of which originally had been installed in Chicago.

The goal is to use the beauty of stained glass to educate more than 3000,00 people annually about art history in general and Chicago history in particular.

Art History and Chicago History

Stained glass was integral to many art and architectural movements in the United States and Europe.  Museum visitors will learn about diverse artistic styles such as Victorian, Prairie, Modern and Contemporary.

Stained glass also is a window to the history of Chicago neighborhoods.  Chicago has been a world center of stained glass windows from 1870 to the present.  Religious windows reveal ethnic diversity in Chicago churches and synagogues, while residential and commercial windows show development of a wide variety of artistic styles.

Among the reasons 19th century Chicago became a world center of stained glass windows was that many of the finest European designed windows were installed in Chicago.  Late 19th century Chicago experienced a period of tremendous construction.  Chicago needed to rebuild after the Great Fire of 1871.  In addition, the Industrial Revolution swept through Chicago at about the same time, creating prosperity for many people and encouraging numerous Europeans to move to Chicago. to participate in that opportunity.

European immigrants brought with them a desire for stained glass windows in the new residential, commercial and religious buildings being constructed.  The city became such a good market for stained glass that many of Europe's most talented stained glass designers moved to Chicago and opened 50 stained glass studios.  As a result, Chicago installed some of the finest stained glass windows in the United States.

Initially an importer of cutting-edge European styles, Chicago soon began to innovate and export artistic designs.  Art Nouveau, for example was stimulated by the Chap Book of Stone and Kimball Press in Chicago and by Louis Sullivan's architectural ornamentation.  Twentieth century modern architecture had its main root in the Chicago Prairie School originated by Frank Lloyd Wright.  Today, Chicago art and architecture continue their global influence.

The Smith family is please to share these beautiful windows with you and invites you to experience a unique journey through artistic and cultural history."


Thus reads the plaque that welcomes 
the visitor to the 
at the Navy Pier.

This museum is free and 
the windows are beautiful.

"Chicago: A World Center of Stained Glass Artistry
Chicago's stained glass companies worked directly with acclaimed architects to produce windows of International Importance.  Firms such as Healy and Millet helped Chicago architect Louis Sullivan realized his window designs for the Auditorium Building and the Stock Exchange Ceiling.

Both the Chicago firms of Giannini & Hilgart and the Linden Glass Company manufactured many of the early Prairie School style windows designed b Frank Lloyd Wright.
The linden Glass Company of Chicago also supplied fashionably designed and beautifully crafted stained glass windows for Pullman railroad cars, a Chicago firm that produced the most luxurious railroad cars in the world in the late 19th century.

During the Great Depression, Chicago's Drehobl Bros. Art Glass Co. saved the careers of several European trained craftsmen and thus assured that their traditions and skills would not die our.
Windows made in Chicago continue to be installed throughout the United States.  And Chicago-area firms such as Drehbol Bros. and Botti Studio of Architectural Arts are also active nationally in restoring stained glass windows."


Let's go look at some stained glass now.

I'm not going to bore you too much with
explanations of the different styles
and such.

Sometimes you just need to enjoy.





























I will stop here, though.

In my humble opinion,
the Tiffany windows are the stars of the museum.


"Louis Comfort Tiffany pioneered the first
major revolution in leaded-glass technique
since the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
He thought of it as painting with glass, not on glass."
Evening Landscape, c1910

Landscape with Yellow Sky, c1915


Autumn Landscape, c1890s

This is my favorite window in the museum,
but it was a bear to photograph
as there was a small stained glass window
directly opposite that gave off a glare on this one.

I had to have my husband block out the offending
light source so I could get a good picture of this one.



Landscape with Waterfall, early 1920s


Field of Lillies, c 1910

Pair of Poppies





Autumn, c1890

Spring, c1890

Christ and the Apostles, c1890


Jonquil Fire Screen, c1890

Guiding Angel, c 1890

Underhill Memorial, c1880

The Annunciation, c 1895

Ecclesiastical Angels, c1890

Rapelye Memorial, c1880



And we now return you to the rest of the tour.


"Victorian Religious

Until the mid-1800s stenciled geometric patterned windows dominated sacred spaces in Chicago.  With the influx of Catholic immigrants, beautifully painted German and Austrian-made religious windows that told a biblical story became very popular.  Until the 1920s, English and American made windows followed this trend as well.

Munich style windows became extraordinarily popular among Chicago's Catholic European immigrants in the 1800s to the 1910s and remain to the day the most common windows in Chicago's sacred spaces.

The great popularity of the Munich style among Catholic European immigrants throughout the United States spurred Tiffany's interest in making stained glass windows related in subject matter, but distinctly different in technique to the imported ones.  To many Catholic immigrants Tiffany windows represented Protestant decorative arts, and were therefore not acceptable within a Catholic sacred place.

Artisans, craftsmen and contractors usually had religious, language and cultural associations with the congregations that hired them.  Devotional bonds bind."







"The Munich Style of religious stained glass is named after a city of its origin, Munich, Germany.

The thickly applied, bright colors and elaborate detail, found on all Munich Style windows were suited to immigrant German-American tastes.  The style quickly found worldwide favor."
























I hope you enjoyed this tour.

There were many more windows to be seen,
but light conditions were not conducive 
to photographing some of them.

I urge you to visit this wonderful museum
if you are ever in Chicago
and I promise you that these
photos do not do these magnificent
stained glass windows justice.

And for my next and final post on Chicago:
The Food!

3 comments:

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

My favorites are Landscape with Yellow Sky and Autumn Landscape.

scott davidson said...

I had fun choosing this particular painting online that now hangs in my downtown office, from Wahooart.co, who sells canvas prints of art masterpieces. While the original is treasured in some art museum in England, my print http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/Opra/BRUE-8LHS4U, of this painting by Edward Burne-Jones is very much appreciated by my staff and clients. The print quality is really excellent.