The Reference Room contains the Tyler Memorial Windows. A memorial to long-time library trustee Joseph H. Tyler (1829–1892), the windows were presented to the town by his family in 1894. Originally installed in the Town Hall when the library was located there, the windows were incorporated into the building design when the current Library was built. Designed by Tiffany and Company, New York, the windows are the product of glass-coloring techniques discovered and adapted by Louis C. Tiffany that revolutionized the art of making stained glass.
The Tyler Windows are a particularly appropriate memorial for a library as they contain three panels, or lights, depicting the history of book making. The central light commemorates the invention of the printing press by Johan Gutenberg — he is depicted demonstrating his press. The two side lights show the tree of knowledge and wisdom, whose branches bear the printer's marks of early followers of Gutenberg.
The panels which form the lower portion of the three lights commemorate the period before Gutenberg, representing three early forms of the book-a Roman wax tablet, a Greek scroll, and a medieval illuminated missal. Included in the windows are quotations from, among others, Plato, Cicero, Dante, and Victor Hugo. The words from Shakespeare's Tempest, “My library was dukedom large enough,” are particularly appropriate in a library setting.
Donated by artist Madeleine Lord, this maquette, delightful in all weather, is on the lawn near the Washington Street entrance. Ms. Lord, a Winchester resident since 1987, creates her playful sculptures from cut and painted steel, much of it found as scrap at Winchester's Transfer Station.
“Purchase of Land from the Indians” by Aiden Lasalle Ripley
The Library's largest work of art is the mural in the main lobby, facing the front door and above the entrance to the Reference Room. Entitled “Purchase of Land from the Indians,” the mural depicts the sale of the land on which Winchester stands to the colonists by the Squaw Sachem. It was painted by Aiden Lasalle Ripley (1896–1969) in 1934.
Funding for the mural came from the United States Government's Civil Works Administration's Public Works of Art project, which employed artists to paint murals for public buildings during the Depression. The painting was done on canvas in Ripley's Lexington studio, brought to the library, and affixed to the wall with white lead, an unusual technique.
Ripley, a well-known painter and water colorist of sporting scenes, Boston views, and portraits, is perhaps best known for his duck and grouse hunting scenes. In addition to "Purchase of Land from the Indians," Ripley painted "Paul Revere's Ride" for the Lexington Post Office.
The Library's second mural is located above the fireplace in the Meeting Room, off the main lobby by the Circulation Desk. This mural, entitled ”Bible Reading in a Puritan Home,” was also funded by the Public Works of Art project and is the work of Ettore Caser (1880–1944), a Venetian-born painter and etcher.
Caser modeled his techniques and pigments on those of the Old Masters, purposely turning his back on the prevailing painting styles and techniques of his day. A self-portrait of Caser, who lived in Winchester briefly, hangs in the Meeting Room.
“View on the Aberjona (Mystic Pond)” hangs in the Administrative Office. Born in Jay, Maine in 1837, Cole was a lithographer's apprentice in Boston before traveling to Europe in 1860 to study painting. Cole is best known as a landscape painter, specializing in seascapes and farm scenes, many of which feature Winchester scenes. A friend of Winslow Homer, Cole, along with William Morris Hunt was influential in creating an appreciation of and market for French painting of the Barbizon School in the United States. In 1877 Cole settled in Winchester where he lived for the rest of his life. Considered one of Cole's most successful landscapes, this picture was presented to the library by Mrs. Georgianna Skillings Banks in honor of her father, the Honorable David Nelson Skillings, one of the earliest contributors of funds for the Library.
Also in the Administrative Office is John J. Enneking's painting “Apple Blossoms.” Enneking is known as the interpreter par excellence of New England in painting. His reputation was built on his ability to absorb and mirror the varying moods and atmospheres of nature. Enneking live in Boston from 1876 until his death in 1916.
”Early Morning, Cape Cod,” located in the Adminstrative Office, was painted by Edmund H. Garrett, who was an author, illustrator, and bookplate maker as well as a respected painter. His works hang in the New York Public Library, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Public Library, and the Massachusetts State House.
”Winchester Center, 1845,” which hangs in the Reference Room, is an anonymous work featuring the Winchester Mill Pond and the surrounding area as it appeared in 1845. The painting is owned by the Winchester Historical Society and is on long term loan to the Library. It was featured on the cover of the boxed History of Winchester by Chapman and Stone.
As you go up the library stairs, there are two beautiful quilts that catch the light from the skylight. The quilts were made for the Library in 1996 by a group of quilters at Winchester's Jenks Center. Jane Norberg led the group.
Art In The Library. Winchester, Mass.: Winchester Public Library, 1959.
Art in The Library. Winchester, Mass.: Winchester Public Library, 2016.
Knight, Ellen. Winchester Public Library: An Illustrated History. Board of Library Trustees, Winchester, MA, 2006.
Knight, Ellen. Artists of Winchester Massachusetts 1850-1950. Wincheseter Historical Society, Winchester, MA, 1992.