The Bonawit Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass window in Harkness Chapel

The windows of Harkness Chapel were among the last made by G. Owen Bonawit (1891-1971). The son of a commercial illustrator in Brooklyn, Bonawit's uncle was noted stained glass artist Owen J. Bowen, an associate of Louis Tiffany, John LaFarge and Otto Heinigke. Bonawit went into business for himself in 1918 and by 1930 employed 15 craftsmen. But the Depression took a toll. When Bonawit won the Harkness commission in 1939 he apparently was working alone; his name appears on the windows as the sole designer and maker. In 1941 Bonawit closed his shop and moved to the Southwest. There, he launched a successful career as a technical photographer.

Bonawit is best known for his secular work, especially in libraries designed by Rogers at Yale and Northwestern. The brown and gold glass that dominates the Harkness windows is one of Bonawit's hallmarks. According to Rogers' notes on the design of the chapel, it was Bonawit who suggested the basic scheme for the windows. They should feature, Rogers wrote, "quite simple and light glass with spots of colored pieces... similar to the windows in some of the colleges at Oxford."

Twelve of the Harkness windows depict events in the life of Jesus. They are in chronological order, starting at the front of the east wall (facing the campus) and moving clockwise:

"And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.' " Luke 1:30-31

"When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage." Matthew 2:10-11

Baptism of Christ by St. John the Baptist
"And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove." Matthew 3:16

Christ Raises the Son of the Widow of Nain
"Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, 'Young man, I say to you, arise.' The dead man sat up and began to speak." Luke 7:14-15

The Transfiguration
"And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah." Matthew 17:2-3

The Raising of Lazarus by Christ
"He cried with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.' " John 11:43-44.

The return of the Prodigal Son
"The father said to his slaves, "...Let us eat and celebrate, for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!' " Luke 15:22-24

The Entry into Jerusalem
"The great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, 'Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!' " John12:12-13

The Crucifixion
"When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son.' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold, your mother.' And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home." John 19:26-27

The Resurrection
"The Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again." Luke 24:5.

The Women at the Sepulchre
"The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.' " Matthew 28:4-6.

The Ascension of Christ
"When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight." Acts 1:9

The four remaining windows depict Christian themes:

The Lamb of God (semicircular window)
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" Revelation 5:12

The Pelican, Symbol of Atonement (semicircular window)
According to ancient legend, in time of famine the pelican feeds her young with her own blood - as Christ is said to have sacrificed his life to atone for the sins of humanity.

North Rose Window behind the Altar
Christ as king surrounded by adoring angels.

South Rose Window
The Tree of Jesse, showing Christ as a descendant of David and Jesse, with Abraham and Moses.
"A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots." Isaiah 11:1

Contact Information:



Email Laurie McGrath,

Office of Religious and Spiritual Life
Harkness Chapel
Box 5203
New London, CT 06320-4196