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Lot 0009
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) for Browne's Bookstore
windows, pair
Chicago, Illinois, 1908 (demolished)
leaded glass, oak
overall: 18"w x 1 3/4"d x 29 1/2"h; each window: 15"w x 27"h

Catalog Note:
Browne's Bookstore opened in downtown Chicago's Fine Arts Building at 410 South Michigan Avenue in 1908. Frank Lloyd Wright was contracted to renovate the interior and so he added tables and chairs for reading, padded benches, a children's area, and beautiful smoked glass windows to conceal the building's original double-hung exterior window sash. The pair presented here was almost certainly installed in the clerestory and filtered light into the store from electric lights located within a public corridor. Given Wright's signature stained wood finish, these windows can be assumed to have faced into the retail space. In 1910, the bookstore relocated to the ground floor of the Fine Arts Building, and the original interior was redecorated in 1912.


Appear to be in excellent overall condition. Two screw holes to one window where a piece of hardware has been removed. The side that faced into the store still has its telltale Frank Lloyd Wright stained wood finish, while the side that faced into the corridor has the molasses-like thick brown varnish used throughout public spaces of the Fine Arts Building.

Frank Lloyd Wright was born in 1867 in Richland Center, Wisconsin. At age 15, he began studying engineering at the University of Wisconsin. Wright moved to Chicago in 1887 to work for architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee. A year later, he joined the firm of Adler and Sullivan, directly under Louis Sullivan. Wright adapted Sullivan's philosophy of "form follows function" to his own theory of "form and function are one." In 1889, Wright married Catherine Lee Tobin, the daughter of a wealthy businessman, and the two moved to Oak Park, Illinois, where Wright built his own house and studio from 1889 to 1895. By 1900, Wright had built sixty homes in the area in what became known as the Prairie Style, which privileged horizontal, asymmetrical structures rising naturally from the environment comprised of straight lines and geometrical patterns. Between 1905 and 1908, Wright also built the distinctive Unity Temple for his local Unitarian parish in Oak Park. Growing bored with convention, Wright left for Germany with his mistress Mamah Borthwick Cheney in 1909. Upon their return, they moved to Wright's ancestral land in Spring Green, Wisconsin, where Wright built his famed estate, Taliesin. In 1914, disaster struck when a disgruntled male servant started a fire during lunch and killed seven people, including Mrs. Cheney and two of her children. Because Wright tended to design a single door for all purposes, there was no other escape route. Most assumed this would be the end of Wright's career, but he persevered despite his grief, rebuilding Taliesin over the next decade. He even remarried to Mariam Noel in 1922. During the Depression, Wright became a social visionary and gradually regained his grand status. He lectured widely and started the Taliesin Fellowship, which brought students to study with Wright and work off their debt. In later years, Wright spent a great deal of time in the American Southwest. In 1959, at age 92, he died at his home in Phoenix, Arizona. By the time of his death, Wright had become internationally recognized for his innovative building style. Today he is arguably the most famous American architect and Wright's name is synonymous with great design because of how seamlessly he integrated form and function.

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Frank Lloyd Wright / Browne's Bookstore windows

Estimate $7,000 - $9,000Dec 2, 2018