Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Art Glass Chronicles: Dining Room Buffet Windows, Part II

In December, 1905, Wright twice mentions to Martin that Giannini has not finished his work in general (the fireplace mosaic being the main project), but does not cite the dining room buffet windows specifically. The winter of 1905 - 06 passes, and it is not until May 1906 that Darwin, perhaps frustrated with both Wright and Giannini, appeals to his brother William: "I am hoping some day to get three art glass windows which Mr. Wright has designed for my dining-room. Wright placed the order with Giannini many months ago." Darwin goes on to relate that Giannini claimed that Wright cancelled the order, but Wright claimed ignorance of such cancellation. Darwin then appeals to William to "...see Giannini and persuade him if possible to go to work on the design, and deliver the glass..," suggesting an alternative might be for Giannini to turn over the elusive drawing and additional details, that he might have a "glass man who never heard of Wright" execute the design.

The following month, Wright re-enters the fray and tries to reassure Darwin Martin that he is vigorously engaging Giannini on the issue, saying "I have communicated with Giannini and the sparks are beginning to fly." In response, Martin tries to leverage his intelligence on the matter, saying "I have just learned indirectly...that [you have] countermanded the order for the three windows over sideboard. I suppose when it is good for us to know, you will tell us what the new plan is for equipping with glass these three holes in the wall." Martin then threatens to apply decals (decalcomanias) to the three windows, if Wright doesn't comply quickly (a favorite tactic of Martin's in trying to motivate Wright).

In July, 1906, Darwin Martin continues to use his Oak Park envoy - brother William - to attempt to resolve the matter, reporting back to Wright that William says that Giannini is out of town for six weeks, and that one of his craftsmen is "on strike." Wright's response in August seems to admit defeat: "[I] can do nothing with Hilgart concerning...the windows over the sideboard. They have lost the drawings also, apparently, and they will have a lively time with me unless they produce them soon." Wright concludes with a statement that opens the possibility to yet another contractor: "I will then get the work done elsewhere."

The last writing on the matter of the three dining room windows in question - a letter from Martin to Wright dated November 28, 1906 - does little to resolve our questions of who designed the extant panels, who fabricated them, and when they were completed and installed. Martin writes: "Giannini has promised frequently to make early shipment of the three dining-room windows...On Monday I received from Linden a sample window...the design and the colors look good to us. We have no fault to find therewith. Did you see the sample before Linden shipped it? Have you seen Giannini's effort? I do not pay any money except for work executed to your and my satisfaction, and I only pay for one job, see?"

Next week: an attempt to make sense of it all...

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