These windows are represented in Stained Glass from Medieval Times to the Present: Treasures to Be Seen in New York, by Sturm and Chotas, 1982, folio number 128.
Otto Heinigke was the designer of these windows. He was partner with Owen J. Bowen, former associate of Tiffany and La Farge, the creators and designers of opalescent glass.
Heinigke and Bowen Ad c.1909
Heinigke began his career as a painter, and became interested in stained glass when renovating the “painted glass” Bolton windows, created in 1844, at the Holy Trinity Church (Saint Ann’s) in Brooklyn Heights. Heinigke then proceeded to create windows of equal or greater quality over the next several decades. By the end of his career he was designing windows in the medieval (mosaic) style. This ensemble at Old First, from the middle of his career, represents a transitional stage in his development and blends elements of the three styles of stained glass.
Our attention is first drawn to the painted faces and figures, but if we look closer we can discern both brilliant mosaic-type pieces and opalescent sections, often several layers thick. Of special interest is the sky, made of soft hues and metallic; it is almost white gold or platinum in appearance, with very pale lemon yellow and cyan in metallic finish; a subtle beauty nearly impossible to capture in photography.
The windows were build and installed circa 1893. Looking across the sanctuary to the south ensemble, one finds another Heinigke window, The Return of the Prodigal Son, from the same period.
The Sower is a springtime scene. The window’s left panel depicts the parable as related in Luke 8. Jesus compares himself to a farmer sowing grain, saying, “The seed is the word of God,” referring to the planting of seeds in young fertile ground, or symbolically, knowledge and faith in young, fertile minds. The grain will be used to make bread, a reference to the Bread of Life, and symbolic of the body of Christ.
The Good Shepherd
The Good Shepherd depicts the parable in John 10. It is a summer scene of nurturing, protection and growth. Note the face of the angel in the rosette, a guardian figure; like the depicted Christ / Shepherd who is the protector of those who follow His teachings. According to the teachings, he is both the Lamb of God, and is depicted in the parable holding a lamb, food of the Passover. Clearly discernible in this window are both multi-layered panels, mosaic pieces and an opalescent glass sky.
If you are interested in learning more about the Van Orden family of Old First, browse the History of the First Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Breuckelen, now known as The First Reformed Church of Brooklyn, 1654 to 1896, put out by the Consistory of Old First in 1896, which is searchable online through Google Books.
The Laborer in the Vineyard, representing autumn, depicts the parable in Matthew 20, where workers are sent out to tend the vines; the vineyard here representing the Kingdom of God. It is in the autumn season that we reap what we shall sow. The left panel in the lancet says, “Go ye also into the Vineyard,” a call for all Christians to nurture, grow and share their faith.
The memorial window below reflects the theme by repeating the fruit and vine motif, and is illustrated with a trumpet, presumably from the heralds of God in heaven. Again, note the beautiful opalescent and layered glass, especially the muted cross under his name.
If you are interested in learning more about the Lott family of Old First, browse the History of the First Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Breuckelen, now known as The First Reformed Church of Brooklyn, 1654 to 1896, put out by the Consistory of Old First in 1896, which is searchable online through Google Books.
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© All photographs and images are copyrighted and require permission from artist to download or use. Photographs are by Jane Barber unless otherwise noted.
Written content edited from many sources previously produced by the Church and by Rev. Daniel Meeter.