The window offered here, depicting a sheep farm in Ireland, was commissioned circa 1905 for the Greensburg, Pennsylvania, residence of Thomas Lynch. As the general manager of the H.C. Frick Coke Company from 1891, Lynch ran Henry Clay Frick's coal and coke operations in the Connellsville coal district of Pennsylvania. Coal and coke were important ingredients in the manufacture of steel, another Pittsburgh-based business which was thriving at this time under the leadership of Andrew Carnegie. In the course of his career, Lynch attained a level of success on par with these powerful industrialists.
He was at the helm of the H. C. Frick Coke Company during some of the most infamous events in the history of the mining industry in the United States: the Mammoth Mine Disaster of 1891, in which 109 miners were killed in an explosion in one of the Frick Company mines, and the Morewood Mine Riot of the same year, in which a labor strike was put down violently, resulting in the death of nine workers. Lynch apparently took these tragedies very seriously, and his lifelong effort was to improve the safety and well being of the workers in his mines. He is credited with having coined the phrase "Safety First," and he supported this maxim by establishing a set of guidelines for safe conduct, which were posted in and about the mine sites. He also saw to it that the message was communicated clearly to the many immigrant workers, by posting the guidelines in as many languages as necessary. A book of 1918 by John Boucher describes Lynch as a man whose:
...humanity was immense! Born in a place and at a time when stringent economy and assiduous labor were the most pressing obligations of life, and early inured himself to hard toil, he never lost his feeling of manly sympathy with those who sustain continuously the burden and heat of ceaseless struggle. This is why he was active and persistent in encouraging and promoting every practicable suggestion for the personal safety, moral growth and material prosperity of every member and worker in the great army of Frick Company employees...
Lynch was born in 1854 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. His parents, Patrick and Nancy Daniel Lynch, were Irish immigrants who had come to Western Pennsylvania in the 1850s. According to family tradition, the farm depicted in the Lynch window is that of Thomas' grandfather, in Ballyduff, a "town land", near Dungarvan, Ireland, in County Waterford. A period photo of 1896 provided by Lynch's descendants confirms this. In Tiffany's version of the scene, the simple thatched roof cottage, accented with flowering window boxes, is faithfully rendered, but the landscape has a life of its own, with majestic trees and voluminous, lush green shrubs. While Ireland is the home of the shamrock (white clover), the brilliant red flowers in the foreground and the field stretching beyond may represent crimson clover, a variety distinguished by an elongated stem and flower head and intensely colored red to fuchsia blooms. Clover is commonly grown as forage for sheep, and it would be characteristic of Tiffany to use such a detail both to enliven the window and to recreate a sense of place for his client. The glass chosen for the window's sky beautifully depicts scattered clouds, and light seems to emanate from the blue horizon line, suggesting dusk.
Lynch ordered the Tiffany window in about 1905, for the new Greensburg home being built for him on West Pittsburgh Street by the architects Ruton and Russell. Construction was completed in 1907. After Lynch's death in 1914, the house was occupied by his wife until 1922. At that point the house was passed on to their son, Thomas Lynch, Jr. In 1945 the Lynch family sold the house, and the window was moved to a country home in Rockwood, Pennsylvania, belonging to Col. John W. Stiteler, another prominent businessman in the coal industry. The home was subsequently owned by a Pittsburgh attorney, and thereafter sold to the window's consignors.
Christie's is grateful for the assistance of Willie Whelan of the Dungarvan Historical Society in researching this subject.
1) A period photo of the Lynch family sheep farm in Ireland, circa 1896. According to the family, this photo records the occasion of a visit by Thomas (seated at front in the carriage wearing a straw hat), his father, and some of Thomas' nine children, to the family home in Dungarvan. Note the American flag flying over the entrance to the cottage.
2) A portrait of Thomas Lynch from John Boucher's book of 1918, Old and New Westmoreland. (Photo courtesy of Digital Research Library, University Library System, University of Pennsylvania)
TIFFANY STUDIOS, CIRCA 1905