Historic stained glass window preparatory design celebrating Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley’s Little Orphant Annie to be offered on August 11
Antique Helper Auctions announces the offering of a stained glass window design from the Tiffany Studios Ecclesiastical Department, signed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the company’s Art and Antiques Auction on Saturday, August 11th. According to Andrea Hastings, Vice President of Inventory and Client Services at Antique Helper, this gauche on paper design is based on Ethel Franklin Betts’ original illustration for Riley’s “Ef you don’t watch out,” published by Bobbs Merrill in 1908 and may have at one time come from the Bobbs Merrill Company.
It is believed that this window was created for Riley Hospital for Children, founded in 1924 which was originally named Orphant Annie Memorial Hospital. “We can’t find evidence that this window was ever actually built but, based on our research, we think it’s possible that it could have been designed for the hospital, says Hastings.
Riley’s Orphant Annie character was based on a real person, named Mary Alice Smith, later Mary Alice Gray (1850-1924), a young orphan who, at the age of ten, worked for the Riley family in Greenwood, Indiana during the mid-19th Century. She came to, in Riley’s words, “… wash the cups an’ saucers, An’ brush the crumbs away.” As part of her duties, Smith looked after the Riley children, and told tales of goblins. Though she was only with the family for a year, the girl left a lasting impression on the Hoosier poet. Smith is buried in Philadelphia, Indiana. “I don’t think a lot of people know that there actually was a real Orphant Annie,” says Hastings.
This long lost work of art has deep Indiana roots. “We think it would be wonderful if this artwork could stay in the Indianapolis area,” says Hastings. “Riley is such a beloved part of our Indiana Heritage. It would be nice if this piece of history could remain here for Hoosiers to appreciate and enjoy.”
The complete catalog for Antique Helper’s August 11 Art and Antiques Auction can be previewed online at www.antiquehelper.com For more information, contact Antique Helper Auctions: 317-251-5635.