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Beauty in the Shadows, Washington Cathedral

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“Visitors coming to Washington National Cathedral are often overwhelmed by the impact of physical setting. What many do not notice on first visit, though, is what some would call the most impressive work of all in the Cathedral’s fabric: the ironwork of Washington National Cathedral. Now with this guide the intricate detail of the cathedral’s ironwork is revealed in beautiful and often surprising ways.

This book provides a collective way for all of us to experience this ironwork in its entire intricate splendor. It is the definitive catalogue and guide to the ironwork of Washington National Cathedral.”

The Rt. Rev. Gary Hall, Dean, Washington National Cathedral

If you get a chance visit this amazing cathedral in Washington DC. It will be one of your most favorite sites you will see there.

Click here to read the Washington Post Review

192 Pages, 9 1/2 x 12 1/2 (Hardcover) 275 + photos on heavy gloss paper

Book Item #: BK603


DVD-ROM, Beauty in the Shadows was produced by James Pittman, Docent

This disc is intended to complement the book "Beauty in the Shadows".  From the early stages of planning the book it was intended to have a CD-based complete illustrated inventory, including the major gates and grilles with more detail, and all the railings, door hardware, light fixtures, statues and plaques but did not come to fruition. This disc includes all metals, distinguishing those that are wrought iron. Sit back and enjoy the wrought iron of the cathedral from the most profound gates to the simplest hinge strap or railing in 2,284 photos.

The basic document of the wrought iron inventory is a ten page Adobe pdf outline of all the wrought iron in the cathedral. It has all the hinge straps, railings, light fixtures, and many details of the major gates and screens. Each item listed hyperlinks to a PowerPoint show with varying numbers of pictures of that item.

Review by Christopher Budny on April 3, 2015

Dr. Pittman has assembled here an exceptionally comprehensive inventory of the metalwork found throughout Washington National Cathedral. The cathedral's stunning wrought iron takes center stage for many art lovers, where impressive blacksmith-created ironwork such as the large, beautiful gates throughout the building are likely to leave an attentive cathedral visitor in awe. But Pittman's disc goes well beyond the gates and grilles in a quest to track down and capture all the metalwork, uncovering seemingly every ounce of metal in the building (including pieces the average visitor will never see, or may not be able to access.) Every handrail, every door hinge, doorknob and pull. Representative forms of the various lighting fixtures are here, as are iron elements found outside the building in the gardens. The inventory doesn't stop at wrought iron however, and the bronze sculptures, entry gates, candle stands and memorial plaques found at the cathedral are also pulled into this inventory. You'll even find two limestone carvings from the cathedral which directly reference metalworking in their carved designs.

Navigation through such a vast collection (2,000+) of images is surprisingly easy. Once you open the master document, it reads like a tidy table-of-contents, logically grouped by location in the cathedral. Simply single-click any hyperlink you wish, to open the corresponding images and text. Most items in the inventory feature multiple images taken from different perspectives, as well as a write-up about the piece, with background information such as designer, donor, dates, etc. Using the CD simply requires the readily available Adobe Reader and the Powerpoint slideshow viewer; both free.

In full disclosure, I'm a docent/tour guide at the cathedral and the ironwork there has long been my favorite art form. But even I found a few things in this inventory I'd never known of, or spotted in person, after giving cathedral tours for 20 years!

CD of Cathedral Photos Item #: CD859

Click here to see the review in the Washington Post.