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Clarkson Family Stained Glass Windows

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Five opalescent (translucent or opaque, milky or colored) stained glass windows in Trinity Church, Potsdam, were commissioned by members of the Clarkson family between 1885 and 1927. The four later windows, “lancet” windows (with pointed arches like the head of a spear) are located in the nave of the church, and were designed and constructed at the Louis Tiffany Studios in Queens, New York. After Thomas Clarkson's death in 1894, his sisters commissioned a memorial window at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, NY. The Clarkson family also created a coat of arms in stained glass, now on display in Holcroft House on the campus. (click on each image below to see the full window. Press your back button to return to this page)

1885 – The rose window above the entrance to Trinity Church was given in memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Clarkson (1810-1883) and Miss Lavinia Clarkson (1798-1881), her sister, by Thomas S. Clarkson and his sisters Frederica, Elizabeth and Livinia, children of Mrs. Elizabeth Clarkson. The munions are of carved sandstone from the Clarkson quarries.       rose window

 
shepherd

1895 – The Good Shepherd is based on a painting by the German artist, Bernhard Plockhurst (1825-1907), a professor at the Weimar Art School who was best known for paintings of religious art.  Regarded as Louis Tiffany’s own design, the window was given in memory of Thomas S. Clarkson (1837-1894), who died unexpectedly from injuries suffered in an accident at the Clarkson sandstone quarry on Sugar Island (in the Raquette River). A year later his sisters dedicated the Thomas Streatfeild Clarkson Memorial College of Technology on what would have been his 59th birthday.

ca.1909 – The Path of Life was given in memory of Frederica Clarkson (1846-1909), Annie Clarkson’s aunt. The title is based on Psalm 16, a prayer for safekeeping and a psalm of trust. It begins with, “Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. . . ” A young man about to begin a journey pauses to view the trail ahead of him. He sees the path winding among distant hills and a pale sky, streaked in colors of blue, green and lavender.

path of life
blessing

1920 – Christ Blessing a Child. Christ holds a dove and has the full attention of the boy. Folds in his gold robe and purple cloak are outlined by black strips of came. Came refers to slender bars, generally made of lead, with grooves that bind one pane of stained glass to another. Came also is used to outline segments of the young man’s robe.  This window was given in memory of Elizabeth Clarkson (1833-1918), another of Annie’s aunts. Elizabeth, Frederica and Thomas are all buried in the Clarkson family vault in Potsdam’s Bayside Cemetery.

1927 – The Children’s Window. The theme of this last window given by the Clarkson family may originate from Latin words that appear in a vocal concerto, one of 43 concertos published in a book of early Baroque music entitled Virginalia Eucharistica. The book was published in Bavaria in 1615 and the words are “Mother worthy of love, pray for us.” The reference to the Virgin Mary could apply to motherhood in general since the title of the window refers not to Mary but to the child.

children
cathedral window all saints picture

The Cathedral of All Saints in Albany, NY, was opened for worship in 1888. The red sandstone for this Gothic cathedral came from the Clarkson quarries. Thomas S. and Elizabeth Clarkson (Annie's maternal grandparents) were "pillars" of the Albany diocese, and were formally recognized when family members had their names inscribed in the first column to the right as you enter the cathedral. Another connection to the Calrkson family is the stained galss window, "Adoring Angels," in the west end of the nave. Created by the renowned painter and stained-glass artist John LaFarge, this window was donated by Elizabeth, Lavinia and Frederica Clarkson (Annie's aunts) and formally recognized on Easter eve, April 11, 1890.

For more information on the Cathedral of All Saints, visit http://www.thecathedralofallsaints.org/  

Part of the original Clarkson estate, this stained glass window depicts the family coat of arms or crest, and the griffin, a design motif that appears in another version of the crest. Although the Potsdam Clarksons all used the same crest, at least three variations of it are evident. These are found on the family silver, on bookplates, and on the medallion worn by the president at Clarkson commencement ceremonies. The Latin "Deo Fidendum" on the crest's banner translates to "One must have faith in God." This window is located on the second floor landing in Holcroft House at Clarkson University. Clarkson family crest


Information for this Web page is taken, in part, from “Trinity Church Potsdam, A History and Tour,” "The Clarkson Family of Potsdam," by Marguerite Gurley Chapman, and “Viewer’s Guide to Tiffany Windows, Trinity Church, Potsdam, N.Y.,”  by James Carl. With special thanks to Jay Higle ’71, for information related to the window in The Cathedral of All Saints, Albany, NY.

 (rev. 9/2013)

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