Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Road Trip: Clematis Window by Tiffany Studios at the Dr. Sylvester Willard House, Auburn, NY

My last Tiffany stop in Auburn--the Dr. Sylvester Willard House and its lovely clematis window.  A Tiffany window in its original domestic setting is pretty tough to come by, so it was nice to see this one.  

Before he was memorialized at the chapel at Union Theological Seminary (see my post on that here), Dr. Sylvester Willard was a practicing doctor in Auburn.  Working from his home on East Genesee Street, Dr. Willard welcomed patients to his apothecary through a later side entrance (1852) to the grand Greek Revival mansion (1830s/1840s).  
Don't be like me--it only occurred to me to take images of the exterior of the house as I was leaving and sitting at the stop light... You can just see the rounded addition to the house at the far right and the Tiffany window is the one that is cut off...
The Tiffany window is at the center, with an entrance at the top of each staircase on either side.  
When Willard died in 1886, it is not clear how this side entrance was used by his surviving daughters, Georgina and Caroline.  Tiffany’s work on the Willard Memorial Chapel began in 1892 and though there are no surviving papers known regarding the commission of the clematis window, the staff at the museum suggests that the window dates to around 1890, before the Chapel, but this seems a bit early to me.  I might have guessed closer to 1900 or so?   
It's hard to see in this shot, but the top left corner of the top panel is pretty severely bowed, damage that was purportedly incurred during a fire in the house. 
Clematis was frequently seen in Tiffany’s works, especially in domestic windows.  
A large clematis skylight from the Harbel house in Akron, Ohio, c. 1915.   Sold at Christie's in 1998. 
A lovely Peony and Clematis window (1900-1910)  from The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass
A window with trumpet creeper, clematis, hollyhock and nasturtium, c. 1905, commissioned for a house in Irvington, NY.  Now at the Corning Museum of Glass
Tiffany used clematis in lamp design, too--this one from Christie's, December 2008.  
The window at the Willard mansion needs a bit of restoration, but it’s great to see a Tiffany window in its original domestic setting.  
There are a few cracks and small losses--pretty typical for windows like this.   
The Willard house is now the Cayuga Museum & Case Research Lab. Learn more here.  

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg

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