2 The Message of the Angel to the Shepherds
1900, Brown Memorial Window, Not Signed
Window 3 is to the left, towards the entrance
This story in glass presents an unusual depiction of a well-known episode. Typically the angel is portrayed in the sky surrounded by a heavenly host. Here, a single and earthbound angel greets the shepherds, thereby bringing a greater humanity to the story. The large-scale figure of the angel dominates the narrative and defines the composition’s frame. His face is illuminated and he is surrounded by an aura composed of concentric patterns of light. All these visual devices emphasize the angel’s divine authority. In contrast, the shepherds are dressed in dark colors and cast in the shadows; their faces are dazzled by the angel’s presence. It is nighttime and the Star of Bethlehem can be seen through the translucency of the angel’s right sleeve. Wilson devoted much specificity to the angel’s robes, Bethlehem’s buildings in the distance, and in the ornate patterning of the wings' feathers — a detail repeated in the design of the angel’s vest. All stand as wonderful examples of Wilson’s fidelity to nature and sensitivity to details.
The window honors Boston’s pioneering orthopedic surgeon, Dr. John Ball Brown (1784-1862), and his wife, Rebecca Warren Brown (1789-1855), an author who wrote under the pseudonym “Lady of Boston”. Her father, Dr. John Warren, was Boston’s leading surgeon and a founder of Harvard Medical School, and her uncle was General Joseph Warren, also a doctor, who had died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The windows were donated by the Browns’ daughters, who were active members of the church. After the demise of the Tiffany Studios, the inscription plate was replaced. The lack of nuanced colors and mottled appearance demonstrate how later attempts to recreate opalescent glass were not successful.