Almira L. White Memorial Window

Almira L. White, nee Greenleaf (1838-1900) was the wife of Thomas H. White, founder of the White Sewing Machine Corporation, the parent of the White Motor Corporation. This memorial window now located in the Bingham-Hanna House at WRHS comes from the First Unitarian Church, formerly located at Euclid Avenue and East 82nd Street.  It was rescued by members of the White family.

The theme of the window appears to be a verse from the Bible, “And why take ye thought of raiment, consider the lilies of the field, see how they grow; they toil not neither do they spin” (Matthew 6:28).  Depicted beneath an elaborate Gothic canopy, the thoughtful figure is neither a saint nor an angel, but a woman who has been interrupted at her work, as is evident from the distaff in her left hand wound with flax fibers to be spun.

Although the window is not signed or stamped, it is attributed to Tiffany Studios.  Louis C. Tiffany’s innovations in stained glass include the use of opalescent glass with muted colors that give a painterly effect.  Chips of bright glass in the neck edging, flowers, and foliage draw attention to these areas.  The face, hands, and foot were created by fusing powdered tinted glass and metallic oxides onto a clear sheet of glass, and not by painting on the features as had been customary before Tiffany.  Surface sculpting of the glass creates three-dimensionality in the fold of the garment.  All these kinds and thicknesses of glass could not have been joined by traditional single-width lead stripping.  Instead, Tiffany pioneered the process of sheathing the edges of the glass pieces with copper foil and joining the pieces with lead solder.  The thinner joint lines are part of the overall design, leading the eye from one form to another.  The Almira L. White memorial window is an excellent example of Tiffany’s belief that craft could achieve the level of importance formerly accorded only to fine art.