Stained Glass History

Gloria Dei Delle de Verre Glass Windows

Long a patron of the arts, Gloria Dei’s 1968 sanctuary windows are truly a sight to see. Designed by world renown artist Robert Pinart, the 16’ wide x 24’ tall windows at the east and west sides of the transept are some of the largest know works by the artist in the U.S.  Each window is an abstract image of the burning bush (one engulfed in flames, the other without); a powerful symbol, representing God’s miraculous energy, sacred light, illumination, and the burning heart of purity, love and clarity.

Pinart was a French stained glass and dalle de verre artist, whose career spanned over 60+ years. Known for his bold abstract expressionist style, Pinarts mastery of glass design, color, and composition fostered hundreds of commissions for new, original pieces of glass for public and private, religious and secular organizations throughout the United States.

Born in Paris on April 1, 1927, Pinart showed an early talent for the arts and studied at the famed Ecole des Beaux Arts school. Afterwards he received his stained-glass training in the studios of three well-known French glass artists; Max Ingrand, Auguste Labouret, and Jean Barillet. At the time, these studios were involved with the restoration of 13th to 17th century windows which had been removed from various churches across Europe prior to World War II and stored in caves for safe keeping. The work afforded Pinart a solid foundation in the basic principles of stained-glass work. And luckily for Pinart, Ingrand, Labouret and Barillet were also on the cutting edge of the post-war modernistic art movement in Europe; which they, and others, “translated” into a new modern form of stained glass called “Dalle de verre“ (or faceted glass).

Unlike traditional stained glass which utilizes thin sheets of glass held together with copper leading, Dalle de verre is a glass art technique that uses thick pieces of colored glass set in a matrix of concrete and epoxy resin. Gloria Dei’s window utilized this form.

Artist Robert Pinart – 1956

This new method of art strongly influenced Pinart career. He immigrated to the United States in 1951, and became one of the first artists to use dalle de verre techniques in America. Initially he continued his glass art career by working for a variety of well know stained glass studios on the east coast including the Payne-Spiers studio, and the Rambusch Decorating Company (1952-1956). Quickly liturgical pieces for synagogues and churches became a major component of Pinart’s portfolio. His first freelance commission was in 1956 and involved a commission to design of windows for St. Luke’s Episcopal Parish in Darien, Connecticut.

Over the course of his career Pinart designed stained and dalle de verre glass windows for over 140 institutions and private residences throughout the country, including windows for the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. Towards the end of his career the Stained Glass Association of America awarded Pinart its first Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. Later he became a Senior Advisor for the American Glass Guild. In 2008 Pinart completed his final commission, St. Aedan’s Catholic Church in Pearl River, New York. He passed away on October 1, 2017 in Nyack, New York.

Pinart’s $18,500 ($172,000 in today’s dollars) commission for Gloria De’s windows (the two large transept windows and the nine arched 14’x6’ nave aisle windows) likely came directly through a connection with the architects of our 1968 sanctuary.