NEW YORK, NY.-
A long-dispersed set of spectacular stained-glass windows from the Whitney Museum of American Art's original home has been rediscovered and reunited, and it is now undergoing repairs.
The windows' demanding original client was the philanthropist, sculptor and museum founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. The windows' charismatic designer, Robert Winthrop Chanler, had a varied career painting and sculpting murals, folding screens, wall reliefs and portraits while using up his inheritance from Astor ancestors and occasionally serving as a county sheriff. Between 1918 and 1923, for Whitney's sculpture studio on West 8th Street in Greenwich Village (later adapted into the Whitney Museum of American Art's first home), Chanler designed seven windows with jewel-tone swirls of constellations, flames and real and imaginary beasts.
The set was removed decades ago from the building (now home to the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture), and the seven were dispersed in various owners' hands. A new owner is having them restored at the Venturella Studio in Manhattan, and they are being documented by the historian Lauren Drapala, a Chanler specialist.
"It's incredible to see this set of seven windows together after so many years of being dispersed--I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to see them in the same space again," Drapala said. "These are Chanler's only stained glass windows known to survive, and they truly belong together as a collective work of art."
Each windowpane, she added, "contains a unique variation of fantastical creatures from the depths of the ocean, outer space and everything in between. They are strange and intensely beautiful, featuring creatures intertwined with each other, as well as a blend of seaweed-flames that confuse the understanding of where the figures reside."
On October 8, the windows will be the subject of a lecture by Ms. Drapala and the restorers Thomas Venturella and Jim Murphy for the Art Glass Forum | New York starting at 6:30 p.m. at St. Michael's Church on West 99th Street. Details are available at artglassforumny.org