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St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Church

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1929, Walter Fontaine. 1018 Dexter St. (at West Hunt St.)

However meritorious the masonry craftsmanship of the somewhat Frenchified exterior of this English Perpendicular Gothic church for a French Canadian parish, it is like many others of its period. Its interior is more interesting. As in his much larger and earlier (1914) St. Ann's in Woonsocket ( WO1), Fontaine saturated a wide, spacious nave with color. Lightweight Guastavino tiles in the beiges and tans of the stonework, some with decorative stampings, span the width of the aisle, crossed with ribbing which is quite obviously more decorative than structural. Decorative in emphasis, too, are the piers of the aisle walls, their colonnettes treated more as frames to panel the wall than as cues to structure. Color in cartouches to either side of small clerestory windows and in the zone of the arching for the aisles (painted by Guido Nincheri of Montreal) is climaxed in the elaborate and unified program of stained glass (by the Paris studio of Maumejeane). Compare this with a similarly ambitious program of stained glass in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence ( PR35), by Munich designers. There, influence from the Nazarene painters accounts for the picturelike quality and milky glow of the windows. Here, the glassy nature of the windows is more evident. The design is more abstract; color is more intense and transparent, with much clear glass introduced around the periphery of the windows. Influenced by modern ideas of truth to materials and by a modern preference for a less illustrative, more symbolic expression, the craft returns full circle toward the conditions of its origin.

Writing Credits

Author: 
William H. Jordy et al.

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