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Turnblad Mansion & Collections

Mansion Musings: The Visby Window

July 19, 2021 By Eric Wilson

On a bright afternoon, the grand staircase of the Turnblad Mansion is painted in vibrant colors as sun shines through the colorful stained glass of the Visby Window. One of the most iconic aspects of the Turnblad Mansion, and standing at 9×14 ft, this incredible window is an original feature of the 1908 building, and has been cherished by visitors for more than 110 years.

The Visby Window is a replica of an historic 1882 painting by Carl Gustaf Hellqvist that depicts the 1361 sacking of Visby, Sweden, by the Danish King Valdemar IV Atterdag. Why the Turnblad Family chose a painting such as this as a key feature of their home remains a mystery, but the craftsmanship that went into the window speaks for itself. From flashed glass to hand painting to enamels, the original window artists utilized a number of techniques to bring the window to life, and the results are stunning.

As part of ongoing work to restore the Turnblad Mansion in it

s entirety, ASI recently contracted with New Jersey-based stained glass experts Femenella & Associates to conduct an in-depth analysis of the window to determine what work may be needed to restore it for the future. Art Femenella, President of Femenella & Associates, visited ASI and was struck by the window’s craftsmanship upon viewing it in person for the first time:

“Your window has virtually all the arrows in the artist’s quiver. It’s a great piece of stained glass art, the painting is unbelievably well done.”

Beyond the crafting techniques, the window has a number features that make it unique. Among others, the original painting was too small to fit the exact dimensions of the window opening in the Turnblad Mansion. To fill the extra space, windowmakers added a character to the lower left corner of the window, who is now known affectionately as ‘Man in the Red Hat.’ It is believed that this individual is the patron who made the original Carl Gustaf Hellqvist painting possible.

The ‘Man in the Red Hat’, who was added by the original window makers.

 

Art Femenella joins Curt Pederson, ASI’s Senior Curator of Historic Properties, in this episode of Mansion Musings, ASI’s video series that explores some of the many untold stories and one-of-a-kind features of the Turnblad Mansion. Watch and explore some of the unique aspects of the Visby Window, and learn how we – with the support of the community – can preserve this asset for the future.

Contribute today to the preservation of the Turnblad Mansion.

About Mansion Musings

Join Curt Pederson, ASI’s Senior Curator of Historic Properties, on a journey into what it takes to preserve the historic Turnblad Mansion. In this video series, Curt and a host of special guests explore some of the unique, complex – and often unseen – activities that ASI and other historic preservation experts undertake every day. Follow along as each episode looks at a different project performed to preserve the Turnblad Mansion, Carriage House and historic grounds in their entirety for future generations.