Saint-Léon de WestmountNotre-Dame-du-RosaireTrès-Saint-RédempteurSainte-Madeleine-d'OutremontStained Glass glossary
Text: Liana Dottor

Stained glass can be described as an assemblage of variously coloured pieces of glass supported by a single flat surface. The pieces of glass are held together by leads and fixed within a frame. Stained glass is a major form of the decorative arts that has an intimate link with architecture. Traditionally, stained glass design consists of pieces of glass 1/8th of an inch thick that have been cut, painted, fired, and assembled into a pattern held together by a matrix of strips of lead. The design is expressed partly by the arrangement of shapes of glass and partly by the addition of glass paint. Its essential form is two-dimensional and is used mostly for the purpose of creating a special atmosphere such as can be found in churches.

Stained glass techniques have remained virtually unchanged from the early Gothic period until well into the 20th Century. Traditional techniques are still practiced widely in the same manner as they were hundreds of years ago. The materials as well as the methods have remained unchanged over time. In addition to traditional leaded glass, techniques in the early 20th Century have developed to incorporate faceted and slab glass held together by a concrete matrix and laminate glass.

Nincheri worked in a manner involving very traditional stained glass techniques. His windows made use of leaded cames to hold together a combination of coloured and painted glass, which he designed and executed himself for hundreds of churches in Montreal and the surrounding area.

Assisted by his apprentice, Matteo Martirano (New York, 1909 - Montreal, 1996), who joined him in the early 20’s and a few employees, Nincheri created over 2000 stained glass windows which can still be viewed in some 100 in Quebec, Ontario, the Maritimes, British Columbia and even in New England, where Nincheri lived for a short time.

As Master Artisan and owner of his own studio, Nincheri coordinated his employees' work, created the design models of the windows and painted the glass. His employees then produced scale models of the stained glass on cardboard, cut and polished the glass and fit the windows.

The bible was always the primary source of inspiration for Nincheri’s choice of subjects, and with a genuine narrative talent, he adopted a very personal and vivid style akin to Renaissance art.

He set the scenes of his windows with characters from biblical passages of the Old and New Testaments, and sometimes with historic figures and events. His were all original creations, often based on studies from live models; Nincheri disdained all derivative or repetitive compositions.

Creating veritable masterpieces of glass, Nincheri understood and manipulated the qualities of light and colour with both delicacy and verve. He was particularly noted for his use of verre plaqué; transparent glass covered with a thin layer of coloured glass, which accentuated the dramatic intensity of his compositions.

In the photos depicted, an assistant working under the direction of Nincheri can be seen cutting glass to fit the cartoon. As he continues to work from the design on the cartoon he refers to a maquette beside him on the wall that outlines how the finished piece of stained glass will look when it is finished. In the other photo, an employee is seen painting part of the stained glass with Nincheri supervising and offering some guidance. Nincheri did not execute all of his work himself, but he was responsible for all of the designs and he oversaw each stage of the work until it reached completion.


Photo: Atelier d'histoire Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

Photo: Atelier d'histoire Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

The art of Guido Nincheri 1999
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