Agnes Northrop worked as a designer for Louis Comfort Tiffany for half a century.
First hired as a young woman in the 1880s, Northrop quickly became a key figure in Tiffany’s design empire. She continued to play a central role at Tiffany Studios long after Tiffany himself retired and up until the company closed in the early 1930s.
Agnes’ natural talent must have been evident early on. Shortly after she was hired to join a group of women who cut and selected glass for windows and mosaics at Louis C. Tiffany & Co., she was asked to assist in designing the leaded glass windows for which Tiffany would soon earn worldwide acclaim. Though she was briefly the head of the group of women, Northrop preferred her work as an artist and happily passed the torch to newly hired designer and Ohio native Clara Driscoll. By 1895 Northrop was designing windows entirely on her own; she had established herself as one of Tiffany’s most trusted artists, and was one of a privileged few granted a private studio in the Manhattan workrooms of Tiffany Studios.
Known for her finely executed floral and landscape compositions, Northrop relied on her own preparatory studies in watercolor and pencil, in addition to her collection of personal photography and published reference photographs of botanic and historic subjects to create her designs for leaded glass windows.
She contributed to some of the most famous Tiffany windows known today, including several of Lillian Nassau staff favorites: the Autumn Landscape Window, circa 1923-24, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Russell Sage Memorial Window, circa 1905, located in Far Rockway, Queens, and a monumental landscape window commissioned in 1910 by Helen Gould, daughter of infamous Gilded Age businessman Jay Gould, formerly housed at Lyndhurst and now in a private collection.
As valued members of Louis C. Tiffany’s team, in 1907 Northrop and Driscoll accompanied Tiffany on a three-month long sketching expedition along the coast of France. The group spent the summer touring the countryside, shopping in Paris and sketching the natural landscape and the flowers which Driscoll and Northrop would later incorporate into their designs.
In the 1960s, Lillian Nassau acquired a trunk which had been previously owned by Agnes Northrop, which contained a major repository of preliminary studies and photographs by the artist, several examples of which have since ended up in major public institutions.
Today we are thrilled to offer another work which came directly from Agnes' hand: a rare signed preparatory study, which was was likely completed on a trip to a seaside.
The majority of the page features a watercolor study of a “Lady Crab,” commonly found along the eastern seaboard of the United States.
There are a number of other small studies on the page, including a series of three small finely detailed graphite drawings depict a starfish, coral and scallop shell along the right margin.
The lower left margin of the page features a series of notations in Northrop’s delicate hand, in addition to her signature.
We are proud to offer this example of Northrop’s work for sale - and continue to honor her and the many women designers from the same period whose names are still coming to light.