Studies in Light: The Gouaches of the Charles J. Connick Stained Glass Studio in the Arts Department

Charles J. Connick (1875–1945) was one of the preeminent artists in stained glass in the early twentieth century. He was trained by architect Ralph Adams Cram and worked closely with architects Charles Maginnis and Timothy Walsh. The Connick Studios specialized in stained glass, with Connick working to revive the techniques and style of medieval glass. Prime examples of Connick’s work may be seen in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. John the Divine in New York City, the American Church in Paris, and, locally, at Boston College, Marsh Chapel at Boston University, the Museum of Fine Arts, Holy Cross Cathedral, and Trinity Church. The collection of Connick material at the Boston Public Library includes records and descriptions of almost all of the firm’s commissions, the studio’s library on stained glass and medieval symbolism, and most of the preparatory drawings and photographs for the windows.

Connick’s stained glass studio created approximately 15,000 windows in over 5,000 commissions from 1912–1986. The Boston Public Library's collection includes 2,150 studies for these windows, along with over 10,000 black and white photographs of Connick windows, both completed and in process.

Executed in gouache (a kind of opaque watercolor), these studies provide critical insight into the nature and range of an artist's working process, as well as a valuable glimpse of the artist's own hand, visible in the minute corrections and methodical plotting of forms often not seen in the finished product. They are also visually stunning works of art in their own right. While the collection is temporarily closed to public access, as we establish a new secure reading area for patrons to view the material, the gouaches for the windows of churches throughout Massachusetts can be viewed at Digital Commonwealth.

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