Chicago, Illinois, United States of America 1871 – 1961

attributed designer

  • Australia from 12.5.1914 to 1938

Walter Burley GRIFFIN

Maywood, Illinois, United States of America 1876 – Lucknow, India 1937


  • Australia from 1913-1935, India 1935-37

Window panel c.1910 Place made: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
Materials & Technique: glass, leadwork, glass, zinc cames, wood frame

Dimensions: 45.0 h x 45.0 w x 4.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2006
Accession No: NGA 2006.849
  • Marion Mahony Griffin was born in the United States of America in 1871 and died there in 1961. She graduated in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1894, and became one of the world’s first registered women architects. In 1895, she joined the Chicago practice of architect Frank Lloyd Wright where, in addition to working as an architect, she became Wright’s key delineator and developed his designs for architectural glass and other decorative arts and interior design projects. A professional relationship with another of Wright’s staff, the architect Walter Burley Griffin became personal with their marriage in 1911. When Walter Burley Griffin won the competition for the design of Canberra, with an entry prepared jointly with Marion, she joined him in Australia, living and working in Canberra, Melbourne, and Castlecrag in Sydney from 1914 to 1937.

    This coloured and iridised glass window panel, with a geometric border design around a clear glass centre panel, is similar to designs for window panels designed by Wright and delineated by his staff in Chicago from 1907 to 1912. While ‘leaded glass’ is used as a generic descriptor for such window panels, the glass elements of the work are fixed together with zinc, allowing a more precise fit of the complex geometrical elements of Wright’s designs. Such work was usually carried out to Wright’s specifications by the Linden Glass Company in Chicago. The design of this panel has been attributed to Marion Mahony Griffin and it is a work closely associated with her and Walter Burley Griffin during a critical time in their partnership with Frank Lloyd Wright. As it was a valued part of their personal possessions in Australia, it is highly probable that the Griffins intended to use the panel in one of their projects in Australia, or to use it as a model for further works and a demonstration of their design approach to architectural decoration.

    Robert Bell
    Senior Curator, Decorative Arts and Design

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra