Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Visit with Tiffany & the Trinity

By Guest Blogger, Mary WilcoskyMary is OperaDelaware's Marketing Manager, and a longtime supporter and lover of the Delaware Arts scene.
I’ve attended concerts at Wilmington's Trinity Episcopal Church for years – but it wasn’t until this fall that I realized the beautiful stained-glass windows were the work of the Louis Tiffany Studio. Were it not for the lecture and organ recital on Saturday, January 19, as part of The Arts at Trinity series, I still may have been blissfully unaware!

The name ‘Tiffany’ would be a draw itself; the fact that this was a lecture and improvised organ performance combination made it an event not to be missed!  (Living for many year across from the National Cathedral in Washington DC, I grew to love organ music and the improvisations that organists used to entertain audiences.)  

This informative and entertaining lecture had the added value of allowing attendees to get up close and even touch the glass.  As guest lecturer Josh Probert noted, the Tiffany Studio used a different approach to more traditional method of stained-glass windows, which could be observed on the sides of the church.  From medieval times to the turn of the previous century and continuing today, the glass was colored with paint to create the image and modeling such as drapery folds.  But Tiffany used layers of colored glass to create the image and the modeling; it was amazing to see and feel the swirls in the glass itself.  The faces were painted, but all other effects were achieved by layering colors and textures. 

As a medieval art historian who has done my fair share of iconographical research, it was interesting to me to hear Probert’s take on Victorian women being considered more ‘virtuous’. Therefore, women’s images predominated many of the depictions, coupled with the fact that women were usually the donors of these windows.  It was also interesting to hear how it was wealthy patrons travelling abroad who returned with urgings for their own churches to have grander interiors.  How many of us enter a church and question it’s design or structure?  Moreover, how many generations of us have enjoyed the resulting beauty, all due to Americans congregants wanting to be on a par with European counterparts?

Organist Richard Fitzgerald did a wonderful job of conveying the subject of each window with his selections and improvisations.  I especially like the improvisation for the Main Altar Window, based on the literary text “Come unto me, ye that labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest”. As he played, the light coming through the window seemed to be one with the music, and I was totally mesmerized by the beautiful image of the window and the swirling notes of the organ.

The Arts at Trinity series presents a variety of music, lectures and performances throughout the year – all free-will donation to attend!  Next up, City Theater Company's troupe, Fearless Improv, takes over the stage at Trinity on Saturday, February 23, at 7:30pm.


  1. Nice post. I love it. I hope to see more. Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Many thanks for your comment, Mary Wilcosky.