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Montréal, mon amour, mon histoire
A series of 5 documentaires on the history of Montreal
The rebirth of East Timor
For a limited time, the complete film is offered for viewing on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the rebirth of East Timor
The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez
Paul Sauvé: Désormais, l'avenir
Windows to Heaven:
The Art and Life of Guido Nincheri
A Separate Reality:
The Geometry of Love
Against All Odds:
Sylvie Fréchette's Story
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Guido Nincheri was the foremost stained-glass window-maker in Canada and on the eastern seaboard of the United States in the 20th Century. Born in Prato near Florence, Italy, Nincheri was the son of a wealthy textile broker. Not interested in his family’s business, he entered Florence’s Academy of Fine Arts, graduating with honors in classical design, fresco technique and architecture. In 1914, he moved to Montreal. Ten years later he established his own studio, where he created stained-glass windows that grace some 220 churches in Quebec, Ontario, the Maritime Provinces, Western Canada and the United States. This iconic photo of the master is taken when he is 60 years old, in 1945. The photographer is Paul Provencher.
This photograph of the artist was taken during the period of 1918-1919 when he had been awarded the architectural contract for the building of Notre-Dame-de-la-Defense church. The 33 old artist is beaming with confidence and satisfaction knowing that he was about to produce a unique architectural gem representative of Brunelleschi's design of votive churches typical of the Renaissance period.
The family group taken circa 1925-27, from left to right: The first born,13 year-old Gabriel Nincheri (1914-1975), Guido Nincheri's wife Giulia Bandinelli Nincheri (1897-1986); the Master, Guido Nincheri (1885-1973); and the youngest son, six-year old George Nincheri (1920-2013).
The photo is taken on the balcony of the upper duplex of their residence on Boulevard Pie IX at the corner of Notre Dame Street. Guido Nincheri chose this location for its bright light, its vista of the St. Lawrence river, and its proximity to Guido's stained-glass Studio, located three blocks north on Pie IX. Giulia is looking at Gabriel, whose serious look Guido captured in a painting seen in the transept ceiling of the Église St. Viateur d’Outremont. Little George, held close by his father’s hands, looks whimsically at the camera. He is the model for several figures in paintings and stained glass windows created by his father between 1925-1935.
Twelve year-old George Nincheri poses as an altar boy. The corresponding fresco can be seen in the mural above the altar at Notre Dame de la Defense church, on the left of a group of cardinals. The photograph is taken in the front room of the Studio against a panel used by Guido’s assistants to trace his sketches. A photograph on George’s right shows the Apostolic Delegate Monsignor Cassulo, who presided over the inaugural ceremonies of Notre Dame de la Defense church in 1933. George Nincheri spent many hours posing for his father. “My job was to help him express what was in his heart, mind and soul,” said George, who passed away in Montreal, at the age of 93, in April 18, 2013.
Nincheri’s fondness for angels is reflected in the two stained-glass windows commissioned in 1949 for Notre Dame de Grace church. The style is directly influenced by those of Renaissance masters. The face of the angel on the left, for example, is tilted in the manner of Botticelli's Venus. All of Nincheri's angels, found in many Quebec and American churches, have chromatic wings exhibiting a symphony of complementary colors, in the manner of Michelangelo. These colors enhance the faces and vestments of the students and neighbors that Nincheri used as models for these and other works.
The lower part of the “Mater inviolate” window by Guido Nincheri, representing Adam and Eve after the Fall, was installed within the Cathèdrale de Trois Rivières in 1928. Giulia Bandinelli, the artist’s wife, models Eve. Nincheri shows her with a stunned expression, pointing to the apple. She realizes that her nature had been violated and changed. Now she is a sensual human prone to temptation, symbolized by the serpent’s head resting on her naked breast. The 125 Nincheri stained-glass windows in this Cathedral are considered masterpieces for their understanding of Catholic liturgy and for the artist's ability to tell complex stories through facial expressions and body language.
Guido Nincheri inserted his own image, in various roles and costumes, within many of his church frescoes. In addition, he did a few formal self-portraits, such as this one, probably executed at his home in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. In 1942, while decorating the church of Ste Amelie, in Baie Comeau, Guido was arrested as an “enemy alien,” and sent to the detention camp of Petawawa, where he was held for three months. Upon his release Guido was disillusioned with Canada. He moved to Woonsocket, RI, where a wealthy Catholic francophone community invited him to work on the extensive frescos of the Ste Anne of Woonsocket church. The enormous project occupied him from 1945 to 1953.
In 1959 , for the 50th anniversary of Notre Dame de la Defense church , Guido Nincheri painted in fresco the cupola representing the Blessed Trinity with its heavenly court of angels. For decades after the inauguration of this church, Nincheri returned to decorate it. In the photo he is 74 and he is executing his last extensive decoration contract. He is painting a cherubim, an angel who guards the Garden of Eden. The cherubim is above two seated thrones, angels who symbolize God’s justice and authority. The photo captures their flaming auras in the upper right. Nincheri is one of the rare artists to have practiced the art of the fresco in North America. His legacy includes vast murals and stained-glass windows in more than 200 Canadian and American churches.
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