Lessons in Liturgical Arts History As Seen Through Liturgical Advertisements

If you are ever browsing through copies of Liturgical Arts Quarterly (LAQ), especially those dating from prior to the 1950's, one of the areas of the periodical that you might be tempted to skip past are the glossy pages found at the back of each issue which was a section reserved for advertisers to show their respective wares. In point of fact this can be a very interesting section of the journal by which to see examples of the vendors, their works, and also what was taking place, stylistically speaking, in the realm of the liturgical arts at a given time.

Each of the following pages came from LAQ issues dated to the earlier 1930's, and I have selected pages which show case altars in particular.  Most of these ads will also identify the church and chapel which is displayed, which can allow one to research what the state of the arrangement is today. Even within this there can be a story to be found as, regrettably, one will frequently see the installation of a beautiful altarpiece that, as it turns out, would be torn out or radically altered only a few short decades later, replaced by something often of far less artistic value, arguably less liturgically appropriate, most of which was dictated by the liturgical zeitgeist of the 1960's and 1970's. 

But putting that aspect aside, what these pages are also indicative of are the particular styles and trends of the time as seen through the lens of the twentieth century Liturgical Movement.  (Of course, what can also be interesting is to fast forward 20-30 years and look at the same pages to see what was being promoted by that period of time.)

Stories, legacies, history; these are not always to be discovered in the pages of our history books. Sometimes they are to be found and identified through methods such as these which help to gain a better picture of what was going on in a particular period of history.  But if none of those stories of history are of any particular interest to you, you might at least find some enjoyment in looking at these beautiful and noble examples of liturgical art. 

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