Charles J. Connick

Adventurer in Light and Color

One hundred years ago, Charles J. Connick (1875-1945) opened his studio-workshop at 9 Harcourt Street in Boston’s Back Bay, inaugurating a dramatic new phase in the history of stained glass in the USA. “Charles J. Connick: Adventurer in Light and Color celebrates Charles J. Connick, America’s premier stained glass artist of the 20th century, on his famed studio’s anniversary. Featuring stained glass, working drawings, designs and other studio materials, the exhibition will be on display through July 2014.

In 1913 Connick opened his stained glass studio in the medieval guild tradition at 9 Harcourt Street, Back Bay. The stained glass window in Brookline’s All Saints Church is a magnificent representation of Connick’s early work.  For the next 35 years, Connick designed windows for many American architects. From Aberdeen, South Dakota to Zanesville, Ohio one can find Connick windows. All told, they are in 47 of the 50 states.

Connick settled in Newton in 1920, drawn by the beauty of its hills, tumbling streams, ancient trees and splendid gardens.  In 1939 he expressed his love of Newton with a gift of two colorful medallions for the Newtonville Library windows. A tour of Newton reveals Connick windows in over twenty Newton locations including: the First Unitarian Society of Newton in West Newton, the Newton Senior Center in Newtonville, Andover Newton Theological School and Trinity Episcopal Church in Newton Center, Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton Lower Falls, Church of the Good Shepherd in Waban, Elliot Church in Newton Corner and the Congregational Church in Newton Highlands.      

Recognizing stained glass as the “Cinderella of the arts,” Connick wrote and lectured extensively to educate people.  His book Adventures in Light and Color: An introduction to the Stained Glass Craft is still considered one of the leading universal resources in stained glass.  Connick’s simple philosophy of using flowing lead lines to highlight pure color in active light characterizes his work.

Harold Cummings, President of the Stained Glass Association of America, wrote: “Charles J. Connick is indelibly identified with the renaissance of the craft of Stained Glass in this country.  He knew it and lived with it in its dramatic awakening out of a long and inglorious sleep; and like the springtime of every living thing, the blossoming craft fascinated him irrevocably, and he loved it.”

This exhibition is a collaboration between Historic Newton and the Connick Foundation. The Connick Foundation works to conserve, maintain, and enhance the archival collections of  the Connick Studio and to assist the public in understanding this art form by providing lectures, publications, films and tours. For more information about his life and work, contact the Charles J. Connick Stained Glass Foundation, 37 Walden St, Newton MA 02460. (617) 244-2659, info@cjconnick.org, www.cjconnick.org.