Sunday, January 30, 2011

Protestant Jesus on Glass

Behold, I stand at the gate, and knock. If any man shall hear my voice, and open to me the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
 Now with iconography, and an historical sense and memory conducive, for grounding, one can walk into a building and recognise and identify items, which, those familiar with the building do not ken. Without being told, nor having access to a written account, a narrative can be sleuthed and pieced together in moments [writing it up may take hours]. With access to some resources a fuller, and confirmed, account can be presented.

Brooklyn Methodist recently closed. An anglican group continues to use their chapel for Sunday services. Under a glass cupola dome the methodists had held services from 1911, the congregation from 1818 [read cornerstones]. They have many opalescent windows about the building. They have painted glass with scenes in the worship area; three large windows, two interrupted by seating. A medallion on top, and two on bottom portray Jesus.

William H. Hunt painted The Light of the World (1853–54). The original is at Keble College, Oxford. A larger and greater seen version went to the anglican cathedral, St. Paul's, in London, after touring the world and continued to be popular. Hunt had read a sad sonnet by the dissolute priest Lope de Vega, To-morrow, that is about the man behind the door and based on Apocalypse iii. 20.

Warner Sallman *1892, †1968, was a Chicago artist, who in the 1920s drew for protestant periodicals. In the 1940s he painted, in oils, the most reproduced paintings of Christ in the United States. The portrait oblique in sepia brown and yellow hues that the Salvation Army distributed as a wallet 'snapshot' is the prime protestant icon of Jesus in America. To the left is another of his popular paintings, his Jesus at the Door. Now in anglican England, and in lutheran Germany this was a popular scene. The part of waspish America which could appreciate and accept visual arts looked to wilhelmine Germany, and victorian England as exemplars. The far wider,deeper and ancient catholic well was less drawn from.

Heinrich Hofmann painted in 1890, a much reproduced Christ in Gethsemane. This is the second protestant icon of Jesus. The original was bought by John D. Rockefeller for his Riverside Church in New York City. Rockefeller had been a Cleveland boy. Brooklyn Methodist has a glass version also. A catholic Gethsemane usually has an Angel holding a cup, and often the three sleeping apostles. Hofmann's, and the glassy one in Old Brooklyn, has Jesus kneeling with fingers folded on top of a rock.

The third Christ they have glased is Jesus the Friend of Children. This is the most 'catholic' of the three, a very similar one is in Saint Emeric's on W.22nd.
At the bottom of the medallion, it reads "in memory of Seymour Trowbridge & Wife". Whoever Trowbridge was, at one time he was someone important to someone. The church is on Archwood, which is just south of Interstate 71. Just north of the interstate is Trowbridge. Trowbridge is an english name, but not well known, and it is not a realty planner name (Maple, Maplewood, Mapledale, Fox, Foxwood, Foxpath, Foxtail). It takes an elementary sherlock to see the window dedication is related to the street honoree. Canvass the residents, if one could be found cognisant of the name, he is probably a relative; but even that is doubtful, the population has changed. Seymour Trowbridge was the mayor of Brooklyn Village from 1869 through 1871.

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