In 1898 Nicola D'Ascenzo opened his studio at 1010 Chestnut Street, but by 1905 the Philadelphia city directories list the Studios at 36 South 16th Street, followed the next year with a more long-lived address at 1608-10 Ludlow Street in Philadelphia. By the 1920s the Studios had moved to much enlarged space at 1604 Summer Street.
During the early days before the Studios achieved its great successes, D'Ascenzo himself made the first rough sketch for the design, but later the work was a collaborative effort likened by D'Ascenzo to "an orchestra composed of a group of artists but directed by an individual. It is in the ancient guild spirit where men worked for the love of the thing they created." It is not surprising that we find an echo here in D'Ascenzo's words of John Ruskin and the belief that the medieval worker differed from Ruskin's contemporaries in that he found joy in his labor.
The work of the studio extended across the country and abroad and clearly departed from the traditional mainstay of ecclesiastical glass. The success of the D'Ascenzo Studios can be measured, therefore, not only in the more visible projects such as the Ages of Man window installed in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, or the complete installation of windows for the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge, PA, or the windows designed for the now defunct Horn & Hardart Automats in New York and Philadelphia, but also in lesser known residential projects stretching from the East Coast to New Mexico.
In addition to Nicola D'Ascenzo's own hand in the studio designs, the work of at least two other artists has been identified. Both Edwin J. Sharkey (1879-1951) and David Bramnick (1892-1959) contributed to the success of the DAscenzo Studios.
Sandra L. Tatman.
Biographical Note - Athenaeum of Philadelphia
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