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Macy’s, in cooperation with the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, the Chicago Cultural Mile Association and generous donors, is pleased to present this pioneering exhibit.

his exhibit is pioneering because the profound originality of American Victorian non-religious stained glass windows (for residences and public buildings) has not been recognized by art scholars or the public. American Victorian secular glass was an important link to 20th Century modernism.

American Victorian secular stained glass windows (1880-1910) were completely different from most painted European stained glass. Innovators like Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge utilized opalescent glass (the glass itself is extravagantly colored) and focused on illuminating the glass, to let the light itself paint the desired image.

They also frequently imbedded glass chunks as well as actual pebbles and shells in their designs. Other American innovations included faceted-glass and cut-glass jewels, beveled-glass, pressed designs such as scrolls and stems of flowers, folded glass that looked like draped textile, rippled glass that looked like feathers, and confetti glass.

Japanese influence became a central feature of late 19th century secular stained glass. Stylized flowers and abstract patterns in asymmetrical compositions demonstrate some of the earliest examples of abstraction and asymmetry in American art.

American stained glass studios were among the first to be socially progressive in advancement of women in a primarily male workforce. The importance of this inclusion is only now beginning to be understood.

Macy’s on State Street is rich in history and architecture. The building, designed by Daniel H. Burnham as Marshall Field’s and Co. in 1892, features a turn-of-the-century Tiffany 6,000 square foot mosaic ceiling created from 1.6 million pieces of Favrile glass which took over two years to install under the supervision of Louis Comfort Tiffany himself.

During a 1902 renovation, 50 foot tall massive granite columns, rivaled in height only by the Temple of Karnak in Egypt, were installed to the sides of the State Street entrance. These pillars along with the Tiffany Ceiling and the great clock, located on the corner of State and Washington, were immortalized in a Norman Rockwell painting which helped make this building a shopping destination for generations of Chicagoans.

A proud curator of the Marshall Field’s legacy, Macy’s continues many of the traditions of the past such as the holiday window displays, which began in the 1920s, as well as the Great Tree in the Walnut Room and the Flower Show every spring.

Macy’s on State Street has been designated as a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thank you to our generous donors:

The Chicago Cultural Mile Association
Macy’s Foundation
Northern Trust
Susan Crown and William C. Kunkler III
BMO Harris Bank
The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust
Prince Charitable Trusts
The Buchanan Family Foundation
Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation

Exhibit Team:

Botti Studio of Architectural Arts, Evanston, IL
Stained Glass Conservation, Restoration and Exhibit-Wall Fabrication

Roland Lieber, LUCIEN Corporation, Evanston, IL
Exhibit Designer

Rolf Achilles, Chicago, IL
Exhibit Curator