The Other Tiffany Girl: Agnes Northrop, Designer of Windows
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen
The Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator of American Decorative Arts
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Building on Frelinghuysen’s extensive study of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, this lecture will bring to light new research on Agnes Northrop, the only truly independent woman designer Louis Comfort Tiffany employed. Northrop, under Tiffany’s aegis, introduced wholly new subjects to stained glass—landscapes and gardens—for both religious and domestic settings, and she designed some of the most memorable windows to emerge from Tiffany’s studios. In spite of her prominent role at the time, few windows, until recently, have been attributed to her, and her significance has been long overshadowed by Tiffany himself and by other women in his employ. Nonetheless, Northrop devoted her entire lifetime career to the Tiffany Studios, and was responsible for some of the firm’s most prominent commissions, among them the daughter of Jay Gould and Andrew Carnegie. Her illusionistic windows are perennial manifestations of the artistic and environmental movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Ms. Frelinghuysen was the curator of the major Metropolitan exhibition Louis Comfort Tiffany and Laurelton Hall—An Artist’s Country Estate (November 21, 2006–May 20, 2007) and the editor of the accompanying catalogue. She received the Robert C. Smith Award of the Decorative Arts Society (DAS) for “most distinguished decorative arts article of 2006” for “The Most Artistic House in New York City: The Tiffany House at Seventy-second Street and Madison Avenue,” published in that catalogue. The exhibition was organized by the Metropolitan in collaboration with the Morse Museum.
Today the Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator of American Decorative Arts, Ms. Frelinghuysen has been a staff member at the Metropolitan since 1980 when she earned her master’s degree in the Winterthur Program of Early American Culture. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. Most recently, she oversaw the reinstallation of the Charles Engelhard Court of the newly renovated American Wing.
Ms. Frelinghuysen has published widely on American ceramics and glass, with a special focus on the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Her scholarship includes: “‘A Glitter of Colored Light’: Tiffany Domestic and Ecclesiastic Windows,” Tiffany Glass: A Passion for Colour (Montreal: Montreal Museum of Art, 2009); co-author, Louis Comfort Tiffany: Inspired by Nature (Shelburne, Vermont: Shelburne Museum, June 2009); “Nature Studies: The Art Jewelry of Louis Comfort Tiffany,” Bejeweled by Tiffany, 1837–1987, edited by Clare Phillips (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006); “Louis C. Tiffany and the Dawning of a New Era for Mosaics,” The Tiffany Chapel at the Morse Museum (Winter Park, Florida: The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, 2002); “Louis Comfort Tiffany and New York,” Art Nouveau 1890–1914, edited by Paul Greenhalgh (London and Washington D.C.: Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Gallery of Art, 2000); Louis Comfort Tiffany at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bulletin (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Summer 1998); and co-author, Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993). [Winner, 1994 Henry Allen Moe Prize of the New York State Historical Association for an outstanding publication; Winner, 1994 Award of Victorian Society of America, Metropolitan Chapter.]