Seen by very few people for over a century, the monumental window will now be a permanent centerpiece welcoming thousands of visitors near the Michigan Avenue entrance of The Art Institute of Chicago.
The Art Institute of Chicago revealed in its galleries last week an extraordinary memorial window, attributed to Agnes F. Northrop and made by Tiffany Studios in 1917, that was acquired in 2018 and newly-restored. Originally commissioned for Rhode Island's Central Baptist Church (now known as Community Church of Providence) as the gift of Mary L. Hartwell in memory of her husband, Frederick W. Hartwell, the window is a pinnacle achievement in the medium of stained glass. (See video footage of the window installed at the museum.)
Art Institute President and Eloise W. Martin Director James Rondeau shared: “Tiffany Studios became synonymous with radiant materials and technical brilliance, and this monumental work of stained glass by the firm is an unparalleled example of beauty, ingenuity, and universality. Prominently installed in our galleries, with the rich architectural history of Chicago as a stunning backdrop, this singular work will certainly inspire visitors and undoubtedly has the power to become one of the museum’s icons.”
The design of the window is attributed to Agnes F. Northrop, the firm’s leading landscape window designer. At twenty-six feet high by eighteen feet wide, and made up of 48 different panels, the scene depicts a distant view of Mount Chocorua, one of the most beloved peaks of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Numerous landscape painters including Thomas Cole and John F. Kensett memorialized the mountain as a powerful symbol of the American landscape. In its scale, intricacy of design, and complexity of glasswork, it is one of the largest and most ambitious landscape window projects ever undertaken by Tiffany Studios.
Sarah Kelly Oehler, Field–McCormick Chair and Curator of American Art stated: “Landscape windows are rare within the overall production of Tiffany Studios, and the opportunity to acquire such a superlative example of Tiffany glass is one that will likely never be repeated. The Art Institute has a strong commitment to collecting the work of women artists, and we are especially thrilled to showcase Agnes Northrop, whose vision truly shaped the aesthetic of Tiffany Studios. This acquisition positions the museum as a leading institution for visitors to experience the artistry and vitality of stained glass as it joins other works in the medium, especially the iconic America Windows by Marc Chagall. We are thrilled to be the stewards of this remarkable and deeply resonant work of art for future generations.”
The window is currently underwent conservation treatment at the Art Institute of Chicago. It was installed for the public on May 27 in the Henry Crown Gallery at the top of the Woman’s Board Grand Staircase. Located near the Michigan Avenue entrance, it welcomes visitors as they begin their journey through the museum.