Heritage: Mary Tillinghast

Tillinghast windows.jpeg

Once known as “the most versatile artist we can boast of among women in this country” in an 1896 magazine profile, Mary Tillinghast certainly had talent. She started her career (in days when women did not have careers) as an apprentice to renowned artist John La Farge.

From the 1880s until her death at age 66 in 1912, Ms. Tillinghast ran a workshop in Greenwich Village. She received medals at the Chicago Exposition in 1893 (gold) and the Charleston Exhibition in 1902 (bronze). Known for using dark, rich colors in stained glass, she also designed mosaics, tapestries, and murals.

She has been described as “deeply talented,” “willful,” and “whip-smart.” Ms. Tillinghast grew up with wealth, and she never married.

Her works can be found from Maine to North Carolina and as far west as Illinois. New York City, Pittsburgh, and of course, Buffalo, were recipients of her art.

In our sanctuary, three Tillinghast lancelets in the west transept (under the Ascension window) make up “The Resurrection.” One of them is pictured in this article.

“In My House Are Many Mansions” in the east aisle includes another three lancelets. One is signed, although the signature is faint.

Ms. Tillinghast’s archives vanished after her death. Her former studio location is now part of the NYU campus. The school honors her with a plaque.

Many of her works remain in NYC and New Jersey. Regrettably, windows in Asheville, North Carolina, were so badly deteriorated that they crumbled into six-inch pieces.

A distant cousin has spent his life looking for traces of Mary’s archives. Sadly, she is largely forgotten according to her relative. Let’s be sure to remember her here!