Stained Glass - Table of Contents

Charles J. Connick Studios

C. 1945

Parables, 1935,
Westminster Presyterian Church, Buffalo

Parables, 1935,
Westminster Presyterian Church, Buffalo

Charles J. Connick (1875-1945) was educated in Pittsburgh, PA, where he learned the stained glass craft. He lived and worked in Boston 1900-02 and in New York City in 1908. In 1909 he returned to Boston where he began his career as an independent artist using the facilities of several studios. He opened his own studio in April, 1913, and adapted the practice and precepts of the leading English Arts & Crafts glazer Christopher Whall (1849-1924) to an American context.

At Charles Connick's death on December 28, 1945, his employees inherited the Studio he had led for 32 years. They continued to work under the name of Connick Associates until 1986.

Some 20,000 Connick windows are to be found in churches, schools, hospitals, libraries, clubs, and residences around the world.

- Connick Windows Online periodical

The most prominent spokesman for the Gothic Revival was Charles J. Connick (1875-1945). He lectured widely and wrote Adventures in Light and Color, the most respected and eloquent publication on the art form in the twentieth century.

Connick expressed the opinion that stained glass's first job was to serve the architectural effect; this opinion was in sharp contrast to the painterly effect that had dominated during the Opalescent era.

Ralph Adams Cram, a Boston architect, was the most prominent spokesman for Gothic-style churches; many of Connick's windows went into his buildings.

Joseph G. Reynolds worked with Connick before founding Reynolds, Francis and Rohnstock in 1923. Wilbur H. Burnham began work in 1904 and had his own studio by 1922. All these Boston studios designed windows to serve the architecture

. - The Stained Glass Association of America: History of Stained Glass

Connick was a modern medievalist and he rejected the opalescent glass of Tiffany and others.

His windows are often marked by bright blues, which Connick used partly out of personal preference and partly because he adhered to Viollet-le-Duc's "scientific analysis" that blue was the active agent in medieval windows. 

Connick and Cram, who met in 1909, worked together on many churches.  In fact, Cram loaned Connick money to start his own studio in Boston, which opened in 1913.

Connick's Chapel of Grace window designs, like the chapel architecture and chapel apse mural, were inspired by the famed and still-surviving Sainte-Chapelle (French for "Holy Chapel") a private chapel attached to the royal palace in Paris. Consecrated in 1248 by Saint Louis, King Louis IX of France, the chapel housed relics of the Passion of Christ. The Chapel of Grace Passion windows theme was inspired by the Passion Window, the central apse window of the Sainte-Chapelle....

The designs combined vesicas/quatrefoils alternating with small quatrefoil-shaped medallions, on lattice backgrounds inspired by ... Sainte-Chapelle...
As in the Chapelle windows, the Chapel of Grace windows have alternating large and small medallions to give variety to the designs...

Connick's personal creativity shines through in the crafting of these windows. He used up to thirteen lead thicknesses and several glass thicknesses, multiple glass color shades, glass plating to deepen color, even shading and molding of some pieces to conform to depicted forms. Surface treatment included trace and matte paint, enamel and some acid etching. Impressionist and art-deco motifs appear in some underlying designs...

The Chapel of Grace and baptistry window series contains over 32,000 pieces of glass, covering nearly 833 square feet. The baptistry window (omitting limestone frame) measures 3 feet wide by 12 3/4 feet tall...

The color scheme of the Chapel of Grace windows echoes that of the Sainte-Chapelle windows. Connick was very sensitive to the ever-changing moods of "Brother Sun" and local climatic conditions, and crafted his windows accordingly. He studied the bright California sunshine and the muted light of San Francisco's coastal fogs.

The rich cool Connick blue of the south-facing Blessed Virgin Mary window and Gospel window medallions is balanced by the ruby red background and white borders. Aqua blue lattices green floral decoration in the borders add further interest, along with touches of orange, gold pink-brown and flesh tones in the medallions.

The Passion windows have red medallions and orange/gold lattices on a blue background. The borders feature gold/white pomegranates and green leaves linked by an orange stem, on a red background. The warmer colors of these west-facing windows, befitting the Passion, take full advantage of the warmer colors of afternoon and sunset light.

Connick also used colors symbolically, with blues symbolizing wisdom and heaven, red passion and the heart, gold for spiritual riches, white for purity and green for spiritual growth.

Most of the Chapel of Grace glass was made in Sunderland and St. Helens, in England, with some glass coming from Germany, France and Belgium.

Connick went to England and France to study ancient and modern stained glass, including those in the Chartres Cathedral, in which he examined the effect of light and optics that had been employed in the 12th and 13th centuries, but which he perceived to be neglected since. Connick was also influenced by English Arts and Crafts Movement stained glass artist Christopher Whall.

Charles J. Connick Studios were later renamed Charles J. Connick Associates in 1945 after the death of Coombs. (Smithsonian)

In 1955, Orin and Francis Skinner designed the Baptistery Window in St. John's Grace Episcopal Church in Buffalo.

Portraits of Connick (Smithsonian)

For extensive information on Charles Connick, see the Connick Society website

On Buffalo Architecture and History Website:

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