Tag: Art Institute of Chicago

Agnes Northrop Moves to the Art Institute







If Agnes Northrop could see it now: throngs of visitors ascending the Art Institute of Chicago’s grand staircase, coming face to face with the Hartwell Memorial Window. What would she be remembering of her fellow Tiffany Girls?

The stained glass artist for Tiffany Studios was at the height of her power in 1917 when she designed the dazzling Hartwell window, dramatically backlit to mimic sunlight flooding through, creating a kaleidoscope of color. As head of a group called “The Tiffany Girls,” she created some of Tiffany’s most memorable windows and was the first at the preeminent studio to execute landscapes and gardens in stained glass. She was a true virtuoso in what was referred to at the time as painting in glass.


Agnes Northrop.


Tiffany Girls.

Sarah Kelly Oeler, the Field-McCormick Chair and Curator of Arts of the Americas who has worked for the past four years to bring Northrop’s window to the Art Institute, shares a little of the artist’s history: “For five decades Northrop worked closely with Louis Comfort Tiffany and as the years passed, she was unfortunately overshadowed by his work. She was actually Tiffany Studios foremost landscape window artist.”

She continues, “Northrop early on directed the efforts of the Women’s Department at the Tiffany Studios, a cadre of talented women who were crucial to the studio’s creative and technical operations. Women selected and cut the glass. Men worked on the lead parts surrounding the glass. In the time just before World War I, many women were beginning to attend art schools and Tiffany hired a good number to work in their women’s department. You could not be married if you were a woman employed there, men could be married. Northrup worked there for five decades and never married.”

Mary Hartwell, a wealthy Rhode Island widow, commissioned the eponymous window for a new building to be constructed by the Central Baptist Church in Providence. Her husband, Frederick, an industrialist who died in 1911, had been an active deacon there.  The church is now the Community Church of Providence and is located not far from Brown University.


Hartwell Memorial Window.

“It was a very unique commission,” Oehler explains. “There are hundreds of landscapes showing Biblical scenes, but this scale and subject is extremely rare for an ecclesiastical site. It depicts Mount Chocorua in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where Frederick grew up. A landscape was a very unique commission: most Tiffany windows executed for churches, such as the magnificent ones at the Second Presbyterian Church in Chicago, had Biblical themes.”

The Hartwell Memorial Window provides a vision of tranquility for anyone experiencing the rush of “open sesame” Chicago.   Acquired by the Art Institute 100 years after its creation and just recently installed, it greets visitors anxious to make up for lost time during the pandemic with a breath of fresh New Hampshire air and the luminosity that only the Tiffany Studios could achieve.

“We are hearing that visitors find it very emotional, moving, and gratifying, perhaps finding a feeling of spirituality through a sense of place. Although it is certainly idealized, it is a rare landscape executed for a church and monumental in scale. When it hung in the church in Providence, it was 25 feet above the ground. Now you can closely inspect it,” Oehler said.


Center detail.

Climbing the Women’s Board staircase, I followed Oehler’s instructions to first stand opposite the window and then enjoy the rare opportunity to examine the window, once completely out of reach, and all of its glistening overlaid colors and varieties of glass. Composed of 48 panels, the church window measures 26 feet by 18 feet. The majestic scene captures the transitory beauty of nature—the sun setting over a mountain, flowing water, and dappled light dancing through the trees—in an intricate arrangement of vibrantly colored glass.

The window represents innovation in painting in glass at its finest. There are at least five different kinds of glass, including foliage glass, which is embedded with confetti-like shards and flashed glass, and clear glass overlaid with intensely colored glass, built up anywhere from two to five layers thick.


Window detail.


More detail.

“We were approached in 2017 to see if we had any interest in purchasing the window completed 100 years ago. The church recognized how special it is and wanted it to be safeguarded as well as seen by many more people. Many of church windows have been disassembled or destroyed. They wanted it maintained and appreciated,” Oehler shares. “Previously, it had not been on anyone’s radar. I knew from the get-go that this would be an extraordinary treasure. I found every inch to be dazzling and captivating.”

De-installing, conserving, and reinstalling a stained glass window this intricate and monumental called for an unprecedented plan to maintain the historic integrity of the Tiffany Studios craftsmanship while showcasing the range of effects achieved in the glass. Among the key donors to its purchase are the Antiquarian Society, the Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Family Foundation, and Ann and Samuel  M. Mencoff.

Anna Musci, the newly appointed executive director of the Driehaus Museum, which also includes Northrop works as part of its collection, tells us more: “Before there was a window, there was a sketch, a study, and a full-scale cartoon. ‘Landscape’ is a study for what would likely have become a Tiffany stained-glass landscape window and was created by Agnes Northrop, who ranked top among the female Tiffany artists. Already an accomplished artist in constant pursuit of capturing nature in her photographs and paintings, Northrop honed her skills as a stained-glass window designer working for Louis Comfort Tiffany as early as 1884 and remained with Tiffany Studios until it closed in 1932.”


Landscape, 1890-1925, Agnes Northrop (American, 1857-1953). Gouache and oil on board. Collection of the Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago. Photograph by John Faier.

“In this study, a stream flowing through the forest hinted of the ‘River of Life,’ a popular motif in Tiffany Studios ecclesiastical commissions, which were featured in the Museum’s 2019 exhibition Eternal Light: The Sacred Stained-Glass Windows of Louis Comfort Tiffany,” she adds.

The Driehaus Museum has Fourth of July program kicking off the first of the month and running until the month’s end that brings a little hint of this piece to the forefront. As part of their Live From the Drawing Room series, they’ll discuss a new form of classical music in America, Copland, from the early 20th century that was influenced by the eclectic and uniquely American art of the late 19th century: Tiffany.

Some viewers of this very special Tiffany creation have made the connection between it and Psalm 121, which begins: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” No matter where your beliefs lie, looking up at this magnificent window, with nature rendered in all its glorious colors, is a truly divine experience.


To learn more about the Hartwell window at the Art Institute of Chicago, visit artic.edu. For more on the upcoming Driehaus programming, click here.


Full image credit for all Hartwell window photos, provided by The Art Institute of Chicago:

Design attributed to Agnes F. Northrop (American, 1857–1953)
Tiffany Studios (American, 1902–32)
Corona, New York
Hartwell Memorial Window

Leaded glass; 798.7 × 554.7 × 42.5 cm (314 7/16 × 218 3/8 × 16 3/4 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, purchased with funds provided by the Antiquarian Society, the Chauncey and Marion Deering McCormick Family Foundation, and Ann and Samuel M. Mencoff; through prior gift of the George F. Harding Collection; Roger and J. Peter McCormick Endowment Fund; American Art Sales Proceeds, Discretionary, and Purchase funds; Jane and Morris Weeden and Mary Swissler Oldberg funds; purchased with funds provided by the Davee Foundation, Pamela R. Conant in memory of Louis John Conant, Stephanie Field Harris, the Komarek-Hyde-Soskin Foundation, and Jane Woldenberg; gifts in memory of John H. Bryan, Jr.; Wesley M. Dixon, Jr. Endowment Fund; through prior gift of the Friends of American Art Collection and Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson; purchased with funds provided by Jamee J. and Marshall Field, Roxelyn and Richard Pepper, and an anonymous donor; Goodman Endowment Fund; purchased with funds provided by Abbie Helene Roth in memory of Sandra Gladstone Roth, Henry and Gilda Buchbinder Family in memory of John H. Bryan, Jr., Suzanne Hammond and Richard Leftwich, Maureen Tokar in memory of Edward Tokar, Bonnie and Frank X. Henke, III, Erica C. Meyer, Joseph P. Gromacki in memory of John H. Bryan, Jr., Louise Ingersoll Tausché, Mrs. Robert O. Levitt, Christopher and Sara Pfaff, Charles L. and Patricia A. Swisher, Abby and Don Funk, Kim and Andy Stephens, and Dorothy J. Vance; B. F. Ferguson Fund; Jay W. McGreevy, Dr. Julian Archie, Mr. and Mrs. John W. Puth, and Kate S. Buckingham endowment funds, 2018.121.



Style, Art and Winterbotham

      One Family’s Impact on the City





By Megan McKinney


The eldest son of John and Rachel Wrigley WinterbothamJohn Humphrey Winterbothamwas introduced in our previous segment of The Winterbothams. He and his wife, the former Mahala Ann Rosecrans, of Kingston, Ohio, would be ancestors of all Chicago Winterbothams. They married in 1836 and began raising children who would grow to be notable adults.  John Humphrey’s first career step was to move within Ohio to Columbus and the manufacture of agricultural tools, then on to Fort Madison, Iowa, where he and a group of friends established the Fort Madison National Bank, of which John became president.


Five Dollar bank note issued by the Fort Madison National Bank in 1871.

There was another move, this time to Michigan City, Indiana, and an assortment of successful businesses in which John Humphrey and his sons became partners within J. H. Winterbotham & Sons. Although the conglomerate was headquartered in Chicago, the patriarch remained in Michigan City and entered politics, becoming a State Senator in 1872.


Photo Credit: Duane Hall

A Civil War Monument is visible evidence of Winterbotham presence in Michigan City, Indiana.

When John Humphrey died in 1895 at 82, the children he left included John Russell Winterbotham, born in 1843, and the first Joseph Humphrey Winterbotham, in 1852. Each would establish a prominent Chicago branch of the family.

John Russell was involved in the 1883 founding of Chicago’s Continental National Bank, which through merger and name changes would develop into today’s Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust. His wife was the very social Amelia Elizabeth Morris, of Quincy, Illinois. And, although he died at 48 in 1892, Amelia lived until January 1938, continuing to operate at a high level, in Chicago and in travels elsewhere, until the age of 85.

Margaret Winterbotham Poole.

John Russell and Amelia’s two daughters each made interesting marriages. Margaret wed esteemed journalist, playwright and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Ernest Cook Poole, well-known for his coverage of Russia throughout the Revolutionary period. The wedding took place in Amelia’s house at 2215 Michigan Avenue on February 13, 1907. Ernest too was from a prominent Chicago family. His father was the successful Board of Trade commodities trader Abram Poole, his mother, the former Mary Howe and a brother was painter Abram Poole, Jr.

 The Abram Poole house stood at the southeast corner of Michigan and Erie in the 1940’s

Katharine, the other daughter in an interesting marriage—two actually; one to an exotic royal—was born in Chicago in 1884. Her first husband was screenwriter Thompson Rodes Buchanan, with whom she was parent of Katharine Roberta Elliott and Thompson Rodes Buchanan, Jr. She then married Jehan Warliker of the Princely Clan of Seesodia of France.  

Katharine and Margaret were sisters of John Russell II, born in 1889, and a graduate of the Hill School, Yale and Northwestern Law School. In 1916 he married the beautiful Doris Andrews, with whom he lived for time at 1238 North State Parkway in the glorious row of houses below.

John Russell and Doris were great joiners. She was president of both the Junior League and The Casino. In office at the latter, she was the anonymous woman who has gained great anecdotal fame in Chicago over the past half century by not answering a letter from the John Hancock Life Insurance Company offering to buy The Casino building. Other clubs to which the couple belonged were the Racquet, University, Saddle and Cycle, Onwentsia and The Tavern, of which John Russell II was for a time president.

The first Joseph Humphrey Winterbotham is best remembered for his inspired generosity to the Art Institute of Chicago; however, he was also an astonishingly active entrepreneur, who we are told “organized no fewer than 11 corporations, including cooperage manufacture, moving and transfer, and mortgage financing.” Cooperage, the making of barrels, was an important component in the dynasty’s fortunes, lasting for several generations within the parent corporation, J. H. Winterbotham & Sons.

From Ohio Joseph Humphrey moved first to Joliet, where his illustrious children were born, and then, in 1892, to Chicago. He had married an Easterner, Genevieve Baldwin, with whom he raised John Humphrey II, born in 1875; Luritia—always known as Rue—in 1876; Joseph Humphrey Jr., 1879, and Genevieve, who would marry Frank Maurer of Pasadena, California.  Both boys entered J. H. Winterbotham & Sons following Yale graduation.

Joseph Humphrey, senior, traveled extensively throughout Europe for many years. Although not an avid art collector himself, he was intimately familiar with the world’s major musuems and aware of the importance of the accessibility of fine art to the cultural life of a great city. He did not have a collection to give to The Art Institute of Chicago, but he did have money.

In 1921, he launched the Winterbotham Plan with a $50,000 gift to be invested and the interest used to buy paintings by European artists over a 25- to 35-year period. According to the plan, when 35 paintings had been purchased, “any work could be sold or exchanged for a work of superior quality and significance to the collection.” Thus, the consummate businessman had devised a strategy that was unique in the history of art museums, to the great benefit of the Art Institute.

This 1919 Henri Matisse canvas, Woman Standing at the Window, was the first of the Winterbotham Plan purchases. The painting is no longer owned by the Art Institute, but it is significant in setting a tone for the Winterbotham Collection. Joseph had only specified that acquisitions be by European artists; however, ten of the first 13 were also 20th century works. At the time, some paintings from the great late 19th and 20th century collections for which the Art Institute is known had been exhibited in the museum, but the gifts had not yet been made. They would be shortly, the collection of Bertha Palmer, would be given in 1922; that of Frederic Clay Bartlett, in 1926, and the gift of the Martin A. Ryersons, in 1933.

Rue Winterbotham Carpenter

It didn’t take long for Joseph’s children to become active in shaping the collection he had endowed. After his 1925 death, two offspring, John Humphrey II and Rue, gave money to enlarge the principal to $70,000, and in 1935 Joseph Humphrey, Jr. suggested that a family member always be a participant in managing the collection. He would be the first Winterbotham to join one trustee and the director on the Winterbotham Committee, a combination that stands today. Joseph Humphrey, Jr. would be succeeded by his niece Rue Winterbotham Shaw, followed by her son, Patrick Shaw. Today Patrick Shaw’s daughter, Sophia Shaw, is the family representative on the Winterbotham Committee. 

Joseph Humphrey Winterbotham, Jr.

Following Yale graduation, Joseph Winterbotham, Jr. married Eleanor Hall of Morristown, New Jersey, and they raised their one child, Louise, at 212 East Superior Street. Joseph Humphrey, Jr.’s memberships included the Chicago Club, Onwentsia and the Saddle and Cycle.

Unlike his father, this Joseph Humphrey Winterbotham was an art collector, and the Art Institute would benefit greatly from the largesse of each. At the younger Joseph’s death in April 1953, the Chicago Tribune wrote that his was “one of the largest bequests ever made” to the museum. The gift included 36 paintings and sculptures valued at—in mid-century dollars for tax purposes—$313,700, and a collection of oriental objects of art, set at $20,810. Included in the paintings was the Van Gogh self-portrait shown earlier in this segment.

Joseph Humphrey, Jr.’s total estate was $890,935; much of it left in life trust for his widow and daughter.

1301 Astor

One of the great stories of vintage Chicago real estate is the development of 1301 Astor, the stunning Art Deco cooperative at the North-East corner of Astor and Goethe. There are those who believe it was the product of another sort of “Winterbotham plan”—this one hatched by John Humphrey II, then living at 40 East Huron.  In 1927, when the mere idea of hosting a cocktail party was in itself cutting edge, such an event was held in a posh Near North Side location. It was at a time when Chicagoans who could afford to do so almost invariably resided in houses—usually grand houses—either on Lake Shore Drive or elsewhere in Potter Palmer’s Gold Coast. It was generally assumed that even Palmer’s son, Potter II, and his wife, Pauline, would continue as permanent residents of the Palmer Castle itself. Until this party.

The Potter Palmer Castle.

The 1301 Astor marketing strategy was for a sleek, elegant residential building, designed by architect Philip B. Maher, to be built at the Astor-Goethe Street corner, with plans presented in advance to a gathering of prospective buyers. Architect Maher himself “recalled every floor being sold out within 24 hours of a cocktail party” and no one has ever contradicted him. Certainly not the Potter Palmers II, who moved from his parents’ Castle to a triplex in 1301 when the building was complete. Contained within the three floors of the Palmer unit was a full floor for entertaining, another for Pauline’s mother, the widowed Mrs. Herman Henry Kohlsaat, and a third, at the top of the trio, for bedrooms. The building’s remaining apartments were either duplexes or full floor simplexes.  Soon living in these were some of the city’s smartest families, including that of John Humphrey II.

Next in Publisher Megan McKinney’s Classic Chicago Dynasty series is Winterbothams: Rue and Rue, a segment on a pair of the most interesting women in the history of Chicago.


Edited by Amanda K. O’Brien

Author Photo: Robert F. Carl

About the Town in June






By Philip Vidal


This will be a terrific summer for music lovers… especially for those of us who are baby boomers.

Exhibitionism,” an exhibit of Rolling Stones artifacts, continues at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall through July 30.  The Stones have several Chicago connections. They were inspired by Chicago blues.  The album cover for their “Some Girls” (which I purchased when it was released in 1978) is a take-off on an ad for  Valmor Product Company, a Chicago beauty and wig company.  The album cover was blown up to life-size for an exhibition, “Love for Sale: The Graphic Art of Valmor Products,” at the Chicago Cultural Center in 2015.  Lead singer Mike Jagger said, “One of our best memories of Chicago was recording at Chess Records in June 1964.”  Oh, how I wish the historic building that housed Chess Records until 1967 on Chicago’s Motor Row on South Michigan Avenue could become a museum dedicated to Chicago’s important place in the music world.    

If you would rather experience live music, we have an abundance of concerts this month:

  • U2 is at Soldier Field, June 3.  U2 is to play “The Joshua Tree” album in its entirety, which I bought when it was released, to mark its 30th anniversary.
  • Elvis Costello & The Imposters is at Northerly Island, June 12 (“This Year’s Model” and “Armed Forces” are a couple of my favorite albums which I bought – all on vinyl – when they were released in 1978).
  • Four Voices – Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are at the Chicago Theatre, June 11.
  • Paul Simon is at Northerly Island, June 14.
  • Don Henley, founding member of the Eagles, is at Northerly Island, June 17.
  • King Crimson is at the Chicago Theatre, June 28.
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers kick off Wrigley Field’s summer concert series June 29.  

If you prefer classical, country, electronic, pop, soul, jazz or blues:

  • Ravinia Festival from June 3-September 17. The oldest outdoor music festival in the U.S. covers just about every musical style.  June highlights include Willie Nelson (June 16), the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin (June 17) and the Juilliard String Quartet (June 20).
  • Rush Hour Concerts June 6-August 29. These are free classical music performances on Tuesday evenings at St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron Street.
  • North Shore Chamber Music Festival from June 7-10 at the Village Presbyterian Church, 1300 Shermer Road, Northbrook. It will include performances by the Escher String Quartet and the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, Ohio.
  • Chicago Blues Festival June 9-11. The world’s largest free blues festival is at its new location in Millennium Park.
  • Spring Awakening Music Festival also from June 9-11. An electronic music festival is at Addams/Medill Park on the Near West Side.
  • Barbra and Frank: The Concert That Never Was” is at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, June 11.
  • Pink Martini will perform at Symphony Center on June 12. Owner of the eponymous store “Ikram” and Chicago’s own high priestess of fashion, Ikram Goldman, will sing and her twin boys could play four-hand.
  • Tuesdays on the Terrace June 13-September 26, are free live outdoor jazz performances by Chicago jazz musicians at the John and Anne Kern Terrace Garden at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • The Grant Park Music Festival June 14-August 19. A series of free concerts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park is a summer tradition for many.
  • The Country LakeShake Festival from June 23-25 at Northerly Island will include country stars Miranda Lambert and Rascal Flatts.

Even some of June’s benefits are related to music.  Music of the Baroque’s A Musical Feast Gala Benefit honoring executive director Karen Fishman, who is retiring after eighteen seasons heading the MOB, will be on June 2 at the Fairmont Chicago.  Opera star and creative consultant at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Renée Fleming, is the first recipient of the Creative Voice Award at the Arts Alliance Illinois luncheon at the Palmer House Hilton on June 8. Janelle Monáe will perform at the “MCA Artedge: 50” gala on June 3 which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Museum of Contemporary Art and the opening of the exhibition “Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats His Own Leg.” The exhibition opens to the public on June 6.   Chicago Shakespeare Theater will celebrate its 30th anniversary season with GALA 17 on June 9 at their theater on Navy Pier.

One of the most famous scenes in “My Fair Lady” is set at Royal Ascot. Although “My Fair Lady” at the Lyric Opera closed May 21, the Chicago branch of the English-Speaking Union is holding its annual Ascot Ball on June 17. The real thing, Royal Ascot, is June 20-24.

I mentioned a few of this summer’s many music festivals, but do not forget the many farmer’s markets that seem to go into full gear in June.  There are over two-hundred farmer’s markets found across the Chicago area, and some have already started. But, it is not summer until my local favorite, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) farmer’s market on Tuesdays in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art begins on June 6.

A true Chicago classic, “The Blues Brothers,” kicks off the free Millennium Park Summer Film Series at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion on June 13.  Another free summer film series, Music Box Theatre Movies at the Park, starts with another classic Chicago movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” at the Park at Wrigley on June 14.

June 8 is the 150th anniversary of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth.  In celebration of that anniversary and the nearly completed restoration of Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation will host an open house on June 17.  Once the restoration is complete, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust will offer tours.  Wright was not only an architect, but he was also a dealer who sold Japanese prints.  See some of those prints at The Art Institute of Chicago’s “The Formation of the Japanese Print Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School.  It is a beautiful show that also includes photos of a Wright designed installation, through July 9.  If you’re making a trip to the Big Apple, “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive” will be at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, opening June 12 through October 1.  Surprises from the archive were a model and a rendering of the Guggenheim Museum in beige and hot-pink, respectively.  White was the better choice.

Chicago has a rich theater scene. The best of Chicago’s non-equity theater community will be fêted on June 5 at this year’s Non-Equity Jeff Awards at the Athenaeum Theatre.  I mentioned the local theater group Hell in a Handbag Productions in my last column.  Its co-founder and artistic director, David Cerda, will receive the 2017 Non-Equity Special Jeff Award, not only for his theatrical achievements, but for his philanthropic endeavors as well. Theo Ubique seems to get the lion’s share of the Non-Equity Jeff Awards every year.  I saw their superb Jacques Brel revue in 2008.  “Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night” returns to Theo Ubique at the No Exit Café (June 15 – August 6).   I saw Black Ensemble Theater’s hit, “My Brother’s Keeper: The Story of the Nicholas Brothers,” in March.  It looks like this Uptown theater troupe has another hit on their hands. “Black Pearl: A Tribute to Josephine Baker” about the expat entertainer and “It” girl of Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, the production runs through June 25.

I know that it might be difficult to think about hockey at this time of the year, but Chicago hosted the NCAA Frozen Four men’s hockey championship in April at the United Center and will be hosting the National Hockey League (which is celebrating its centennial this year) draft at the United Center, June 23-24.