File 444 - Decoration for Nave Ceiling of Christ Church Cathedral

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Decoration for Nave Ceiling of Christ Church Cathedral

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CA CAC 1-3-444

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  • May 1937 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

17 drawings : 1 ink on card, 16 pencil on paper

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File consists of drawings for church, including:
1 presentation drawing: stencils
15 working drawings: stencil cartoons
1 detail drawing: diagram for panel symbols, plan

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General note

While Percy Nobbs never received a commission for an entire church he did execute major interior work in several of the most important religious buildings in English-speaking Montreal. These include the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, the Erskine and American United Church, and Christ Church Cathedral. Christ Church Cathedral, a Gothic Revival building located on Ste. Catherine Street, was designed in 1857-1859 by British architect, Frank Wills (circa 1822-1857) to replace the church destroyed by fire in 1856. Nobbs’ designs for the Cathedral, which span his career, were not executed in their entirety. Nevertheless, the Cathedral as it stands today owes more to Nobbs’ contribution than to those of any architect since Wills. (Anglican Museum. 5 August 2002. The earliest contribution of Nobbs dates from 1906: a red-and-white marble communion rail and the stenciled decoration of the chancel and choir. His decoration of the nave and northeast-aisle ceilings was done in 1937 and 1939. Nobbs’ subsequent work includes the Chapel of St. John of Jerusalem (1940) and the Baptistry (1951), which occupied the northeast and southwest transept arms respectively. For the chapels, he designed the entrance porches, screens, altars, textiles, sculptural ornaments, stained glass, and ceiling decoration. Nobbs also fashioned a new case for the organ and moved the choir stalls forward under the crossing. (By 1985, the organ was replaced and, with the choir, moved; the chapel and Baptistry were reversed; and much of the wall decoration was painted over). In 1950 Nobbs added to the reredos designed by F.E. Howard to commemorate the victims of World War I. Nobbs’ augmentation memorializes those who had fallen in World War II. A proposal in 1950 to increase the size of the sacristy was never realized. “Minor embellishments”, as Nobbs called them, executed in the late 1940s and early ‘50s, include two memorial plaques, a Hymn Board, the Carlisle Memorial Sedilia, a bronze processional cross, and four candlesticks and a cross in polychrome oak. Nobbs’ work is characterized by a thoughtful attention to detail, the distinctive quality of his chosen materials, and the attempt to integrate his innovations into the work that preceded his. Nobbs’ drawings and some of the extant ceiling decorations reveal a harmonious palette of burgundies, roses, and sage greens.

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