I didn’t have time earlier to write about the story behind the Chagall windows at All Saints, Tudeley. The story is an interesting one. In 1963, Sarah D’Avigdor Goldsmid drowned in a sailing accident. She was only 18 years old and her distraught parents (Sir Henry and Lady d’Avigdor-Goldsmid, established 20C art collectors) commissioned Chagall to create the memorial window which was given to the church. The work was created by Chagall with his student Charles Marq in Reims and was installed in 1967. The window shows Sarah as the figure floating at the base whilst her soul ascends a ladder to Heaven, where a crucified Christ awaits. Other figures represent the grieving family.
The windows are inspired, said Chagall, by the words of Psalm 8, especially verses 4-8:
“What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.”
Apparently the artist was so taken by the East Window in it’s setting that he agreed to do all the windows to create the only church to completely contain his work. This project was not without local opposition, some of whom were reluctant to see their Neo-Gothic windows replaced and this is the reason why the final completion of the project was so delayed. The original windows are pretty mundane so I for one am delighted that the Chagall creations found their way to their places, even if it took 15 years.
Leonie commented on my earlier post that the windows seem to colour the air within the Church and this is indeed the case. But what makes it even more amazing is the combination of the warmth of the nave area which greets you as your enter the building and cool Chancel with the blue glass creating an almost underwater feel.
What a wonderful tribute to Sarah D’Avigdor Goldsmid.
This panorama clearly shows the different feel between the two halves of the church.