Illuminated inspiration – Waco welcomes stained glass masterpieces
Waco may not have a patron saint, but it has been visited by angels. This month through January, seven 8-foot original Tiffany stained glass angels are on display at the Lee Lockwood Library and Museum on Waco Drive, courtesy of the Historic Waco Foundation.
The seven angels are displayed on a stage, and each window is backlit.
Each angel represents one of the seven angels from the book of Revelation in the Bible.
The angels were created by historic stained glass craftsman Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the founder of Tiffany & Co.
They were originally commissioned by a church in Cincinnati in 1902. Tickets can be purchased in person and are $10, or $8 for students with a student ID.
The angels called Cincinnati home for years until the church was taken over by eminent domain. The angels were put in storage and were rediscovered and restored 12 years ago.
“Not until the last window was cleaned did Tiffany’s signature emerge, whereupon the history of American glass restoration claimed a stunning new chapter,” the Historic Waco Foundation’s website states.
Patricia Scott, who is working with the exhibit while it is in Waco, said she is amazed by the story of the windows’ origin and travels and that she also is impressed by the biblical depiction.
“It’s just amazing to have the symbolism, and that’s what this church group wanted to emphasize,” she said. “That was important to them. I assume that’s why they wanted to depict the angels of Revelation.”
The angels have been touring the nation now for the last few years, visiting museums and a university, and soon will go to Texas A&M University.
“This is the first time that these pieces have been in Texas,” said Emily Carrington, director of programming for the Historic Waco Foundation. “Our curator found this exhibit a few years ago, and we started looking into it. It hasn’t been on tour long, and it’s been at times in the Midwest, and we thought it would be something great to bring to Texas.”
Louis Tiffany was an artist who started a stained glass company, where he made a name for himself. “Tiffany” became the name not only of a particular company’s product but came to describe an entire style of stained glass.
“He definitely forged a path in the late 1800s and early 1900s,” Carrington said of Tiffany. “He is very important in glassmaking. He also had unique techniques in glassmaking. Something special about these windows is that they are made of multiple layers in order to give them sort of a three- dimensional look.”
The colored glass in Tiffany’s work is shaped and altered to give specific effects. The angels are formed with features such as folded glass, acid coloring and three-dimensional glass stones. The windows are not necessarily more detailed than other types of stained glass, Carrington said, but she does find them unique.
“He really had a very careful, new way of doing stained glass,” Carrington said.
Though brought to Waco by the Historic Waco Foundation, the windows are not related to Waco history, Carrington said.
“Though it’s from Cincinnati and created by a glassmaker out of New York, we think it’s important that we expose the people of Waco to this art that was very popular at the time when Waco was booming, and we think it’s important to share historic preservation,” she said. “They were almost lost.”