John La Farge (March 31, 1835 ?C November 14, 1910) was an American painter, stained glass window maker, decorator, and writer.
Born in New York City, New York, his interest in art was aroused during his training at Mount St. Mary's University and St. John's College (now Fordham University). He had only the study of law in view until he returned from his first visit to Paris, France where he studied with Thomas Couture and enjoyed the most brilliant literary society of the day. Even his earliest drawings and landscapes, done in Newport, Rhode Island, after his marriage in 1861 to Margaret Mason Perry, sister-in-law of Lilla Cabot Perry, show marked originality, especially in the handling of color values, and also the influence of Japanese art, in the study of which he was a pioneer.
La Farge's inquiring mind led him to experiment with color problems, especially in the medium of stained glass. He succeeded not only in rivaling the gorgeousness of the medieval windows, but in adding new resources by his invention of opalescent glass and his original methods of superimposing and welding his material. Among his many masterpieces are the "Battle Window" at Harvard and the cloisonn?? "Peacock Window" in the Worcester Art Museum. Two of his largest windows are located in Unity Church in North Easton, Massachusetts. The earliest of these, the "Angel of Help" was completed in 1887 while the "Figure of Wisdom" dates to 1901. Both of these windows were restored by "Victor Rothman for Stained Glass Inc" of Yonkers, New York in the 1990's.
Between 1859 and 1870, he illustrated Tennyson's Enoch Arden and Robert Browning's Men and Women. Breadth of observation and structural conception, and a vivid imagination and sense of color are shown by his mural decorations. His first work in mural painting was done in Trinity Church, Boston, in 1873. Then followed his decorations in the Church of the Ascension (the large altarpiece) and St. Paul's Church, New York. For the State Capitol at St. Paul he executed, in his seventy-first year, four great lunettes representing the history of religion, and for the Supreme Court building at Baltimore, a similar series with Justice as the theme. In addition there are his vast numbers of other paintings and water colors, notably those recording his extensive travels in the Orient and South Pacific.
His labors in almost every field of art won for him from the French Government the Cross of the Legion of Honor and membership in the principal artistic societies of America, as well as the presidency of the Society of Mural Painters. Enjoying an extraordinary knowledge of languages (ancient and modern), literature, and art, by his cultured personality and reflective conversation he greatly influenced all who knew him. Though naturally a questioner he venerated the traditions of religious art, and preserved always his Catholic faith and reverence.
In 1904, he was one of the first seven chosen for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. On his passing in 1910, John LaFarge was interred in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. During his life, he maintained a studio at 51 West 10th Street, in Greenwich Village, which today is part of the site of Eugene Lang College