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Sunday, December 8, 2019 at 10:00 AM CDT

Art & Design with Tradition & Innovation

Sale 121 Lot 181

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) for the Edwin H. Cheney House
Oak Park, Illinois, 1903
leaded glass
39"w x 33 1/4"h

Catalog Note:
The story of the Cheney House is a truly fascinating one, which had profound implications for architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1895, Wright completed his home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois. He went on to build 60 residences in the area in the next five years. After translator Mamah Borthwick met Wright's wife Catherine at a local social club, she and her husband Edwin H. Cheney, an electrical engineer, commissioned Wright to design their home. From the outside, the house appears to be a single-story bungalow, but, in fact, the surrounding brick wall hides an elevated basement where Mamah Borthwick's sister lived. To counterbalance the impression of isolation and mystery caused by the brick wall, Wright added lightly colored iridescent glass to the ground-floor windows, suggestive of Japanese bamboo curtain designs. In 1909, Mamah Borthwick and Wright became romantically involved and went on a year-long trip to Europe, much to the dismay of their families, friends and high society. Prior to the Cheneys divorcing in 1911, Wright designed his grand estate, Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin with the intention of Mamah Borthwick joining him there permanently. Tragically, in 1914, a mentally unstable servant went on a killing spree at Taliesin after setting the property on fire while Wright was in Chicago. Mamah Borthwick died in the incident along with her children. This original Wright window on offer dates to 1903 and was removed from the Cheney House during renovation by a subsequent owner.

Estimate $6,000-8,000

Sold for $8,125