Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tiffany in Kansas

    The Ascension (Luke 24: 50-51)

Stained Glass Windows by 
Louis Comfort Tiffany

The Windows of Comfort
First Presbyterian Church, Topeka

One of the few television shows I try to watch on a regular basis is PBS' "Antiques Roadshow."  Fans of the Roadshow can expect to see Tiffany items, whether lampshades or vases or fakes, show up on a regular basis. On a recent visit to Topeka's First Presbyterian Church, I had the opportunity to experience and photograph some of his larger works - a spectacular set of stained glass windows.

Louis Comfort Tiffany himself traveled to Topeka to visit the church in order to create a design appropriate for that specific sanctuary. The windows were completed and installed in 1912.

Tiffany windows are characterized by a rich color saturation unmatched by his imitators who merely painted on glass. In contrast, Tiffany's unique "favrile" glass was fabricated without paint, enamels, or stains, the colors being embedded in the glass itself. His proprietary formula included metallic additives (copper, magnesium, cobalt, gold, etc.) which produced the vibrant colors, further enhanced by using using layers of glass, and/or altering the surface texture. Tiffany ordered his formula to be destroyed after his death.  

The Ascension, shown above, is quite large in scale, and located above the balcony at the rear of the sanctuary. Below are some of my other favorite windows in the collection:

Christ Blessing the Little Children  Matthew 19:14 "but Jesus said, 'Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.'"

Detail shot of Christ Blessing the Little Children (shown above)

Christ and Nicodemus  John 3:2 "This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.'"

Christ and the Valiant Woman (now commonly translated "virtuous" woman) To the woman representing the utmost in Christian love and charity. Proverbs 31:28 "Her children call her blessed, her husband praises her."

Landscape Window  Psalm 42:1 "As the (deer) pants for the water brooks, my soul pants after you, O God."

Medallion, or Jeweled, Windows  Underneath the two sets of balcony stairs are windows similar in color and design, each reminiscent of 13th century designs, and containing different ecclesiastical symbols. 

View of the church sanctuary as seen from under the balcony toward the altar. The rose window above the chancel is not a Tiffany, but still a beautiful stained glass work.
The First Presbyterian Church is located at the corner of 7th and Harrison in Topeka, across the street (west) of the state capital building. The sanctuary, and The Windows of Comfort, are open for public viewing Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The church's web site: www.fpctopeka.org

Also on the day's agenda: 
  • Lunch at Porubsky's in Little Russia, a one-of-a-kind Topeka experience.
  • A visit to Wolfe's Camera Shop to pick up a couple of camera accessories. For my money, Wolfe's is one of the best camera shops around (not affiliated with the Wolf/Fitz camera chain)/
  • A brief stop at the Great Overland Station, the Union Pacific Passenger Terminal turned railroad museum, for a couple of exterior shots.


  1. Beautiful shots Frank. I loved the lighting on the last one. It is definitely one of Kansas' best kept secrets and a must see!

  2. This is one of the things I lime the most going to the church because I consider all things inside of it has an incredible art, just look at what a beautiful windows and those designs it is art.