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Pair of Liturgical Candlesticks

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Pair of Liturgical Candlesticks

ca. 1962
34 11/16 x 10 5/8 x 10 5/8 in. (88.1 x 27 x 27 cm)

William Alphonse Keyser, Jr.
United States

Object Type: Furniture
Medium and Support: Rosewood and bronze
Credit Line: Gift of Rev. Robert F. McNamara
Accession Number: 1989.18.1-.2
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

Around 1962, the Rev. Robert McNamara commissioned six candlesticks for the high altar at St. Bernard’s Seminary in memory of his mother. Liturgical changes initiated by the Second Vatican Council excluded traditional candlesticks set upon altars, so two were moved to a shrine of remembrance in the seminary chapel. When St. Bernard’s closed in 1981, all six were returned to Rev. McNamara, who donated a pair to MAG.

The artist, along with Wendell Castle, was one of the founders of the woodworking department at RIT’s School for American Craftsmen. “I’ve always believed in the presence of a . . . supreme craftsman,” he said in a 2003 interview for the Archives of American Art. “And I’ve come to believe that whatever I’ve been able to achieve has been His work more than mine, that I’m just a vehicle.”

[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]

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Oral history interview with William Keyser, Jr., 2003 Apr. 25-May 2 Archives of American Art interview with William Keyser. Toward the end of the interview he speaks about entering the Rochester-Finger Lakes exhibitions and receiving a commission for liturgical candlesticks:

"Gradually some commissions started coming my way. Ironically, one of the first ones was a liturgical commission. A priest wanted to donate a set of altar candlesticks for the high altar at a local seminary. And, coincidentally, he taught church art history and sat in on the diocesan building committee, so that any church renovations or new churches that were being built, sort of, passed through his committee. And I guess he was happy with what I did on that initial commission, and so from then on he tended to put my name in or recommend me for future liturgical commissions."
It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue Entry for this artwork in the It Came from the Vault exhibition catalogue. The exhibition ran from March 17-June 9, 2013

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