Buildings, too, are children of Earth and Sun.

Frank Lloyd Wright

The Last of the Prairie Homes

The Francis W. Little House

From 1912 to 1914, Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built a summer home for Francis W. and Mary Little in Wayzata, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis on Lake Minnetonka. Wright had previously built a home for them in Peoria, Illinois in 1903 and the Littles wanted him to create another home that was spacious, luxurious and celebrated the natural beauty of the landscape. The house turned out to be one of the last Prairie homes that Wright would build in the Midwest, and was one of the most expressive and exemplar of the style that he had pioneered.

Exterior of the Francis W. Little home, seen from Lake Minnetonka. Photo: Wayne D. Peterson. Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Re-construction of the living room at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The present lot is a set of interior doors, likely from one of the hallways that radiated outward from the grand, central living room, to the other rooms of the home. As is typical of his buildings, the whole is contained within even the most minute details and elements. Wright's focus on visual harmony and spatial continuity is beautifully seen in the Little house; each side of the living room was composed of windows, letting in ample light and views of the lake, while also unifying the interior and the exterior as one organic space. This is emphasized by Wright's use of rich oak throughout the interior, its furnishings, and the doors seen here.

The living room of the Francis W. Little house. Image: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The leaded designs on the glass windows and doors of the Little house strayed a bit from Wright's usual intricate style; in a letter from Mr. Little during construction, he complained to Wright that the window designs he had proposed were "stiff, formal and complicated," blocking too much of the view. Wright simplified the design, pushing the motif to the outer perimeter of the windows so that more light would come through. The final effect is one that is just as exuberant as Wright's more fanciful designs, but is contained within a more measured execution, which undoubtedly added to the calm and serenity that many visitors to the room noted that it inspired. Within the design though, one still sees Wright pushing back just a bit, adding a little square of red in the some of the corners. The leaded designs are also electroplated with copper, adding reddish hues and a deeper dimension of warmth to harmonize with the rest of the home.

As is the case with many of Frank Lloyd Wright's greatest works, the Francis W. Little house was destroyed in 1972, with elements of the home going to the Allentown Art Museum, The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, and, most notably, the living room was purchased by and re-installed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Below is a video tour of the room, as it is presented at the museum today.
 

Frank Lloyd Wright 1867–1959

During his seventy year career as an architect, Frank Lloyd Wright created more than 1,100 designs, half of which were realized and a large portion of which came about later in his life. Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin in 1867. He enrolled at the University of Wisconsin in 1885 to study civil engineering, completing only two years of the program. After working for Joseph Silsbee on the construction of the Unity Chapel in Oak Park, Illinois Wright decided to pursue a career in architecture and he moved to Chicago where he began an apprenticeship at the famed architectural firm Adler and Sullivan, working directly with Louis Sullivan until 1893.

After parting ways, Wright moved to Oak Park. Working from his home studio, he developed a system of design developed from grid units and rooted in an appreciation of natural materials that would come to be known as the Prairie School of Architecture and would change the landscape of American design forever. Wright devoted himself to teaching and writing during the 1920s and 1930s. 1935 marked the beginning of an immense surge of creativity and productivity as he began work on his most celebrated residential design, Fallingwater. In the 1940s and 1950s Wright focused on his Usonian designs that reflected his belief in democratic architecture, offering middle-class residential options. In 1943, Wright took on his most demanding commission, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The museum, which would open its doors six months after his death in 1959, would be called his most significant work.

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Auction Results Frank Lloyd Wright

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, Kenneth Laurent House and Furnishings, Rockford | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

Kenneth Laurent House and Furnishings, Rockford
estimate: $500,000–700,000
result: $578,500

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, Rare floor lamp from the John Storer House, Hollywood | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

Rare floor lamp from the John Storer House, Hollywood
estimate: $50,000–70,000
result: $100,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, chair from the S.C. Johnson and Sons building, Racine, Wisconsin | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

chair from the S.C. Johnson and Sons building, Racine, Wisconsin
estimate: $60,000–70,000
result: $90,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, Executive armchair from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

Executive armchair from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $52,500

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, coffee table from the Auldbrass Plantation, Yemassee | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

coffee table from the Auldbrass Plantation, Yemassee
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $50,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, Presentation drawing for Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

Presentation drawing for Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $50,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, chair for the Larkin Administration Building in Buffalo, New York | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

chair for the Larkin Administration Building in Buffalo, New York
estimate: $45,000–55,000
result: $48,300

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, Hanging Lamp from the John Storer House, Hollywood | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

Hanging Lamp from the John Storer House, Hollywood
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $45,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, chair from the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

chair from the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $40,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, lounge chair from the Stanley Rosenbaum House, Florence, Alabama | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

lounge chair from the Stanley Rosenbaum House, Florence, Alabama
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $35,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, chair from the Johnson Wax building, Racine, Wisconsin | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

chair from the Johnson Wax building, Racine, Wisconsin
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $35,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, desk for The Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

desk for The Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $33,040

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, coffee table from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

coffee table from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $32,500

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, Barrel chair for the Herbert F. Johnson, Jr. residence, (Wingspread) | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

Barrel chair for the Herbert F. Johnson, Jr. residence, (Wingspread)
estimate: $30,000–40,000
result: $31,050

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, room screen | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

room screen
estimate: $30,000–50,000
result: $29,900

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, coffee table from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

coffee table from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
estimate: $7,000–9,000
result: $27,500

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, table from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

table from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
estimate: $8,000–10,000
result: $25,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, coffee table from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

coffee table from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $25,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, pair of lounge chairs from the Clarence Sondern House, Kansas City | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

pair of lounge chairs from the Clarence Sondern House, Kansas City
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $23,750

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, armchair for Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

armchair for Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
estimate: $10,000–15,000
result: $23,000

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, sectional sofa from the Sweeton House | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

sectional sofa from the Sweeton House
estimate: $5,000–7,000
result: $22,800

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, armchair from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

armchair from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $22,500

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, chair from the Paul J. and Ida Trier House, Des Moines, Iowa | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

chair from the Paul J. and Ida Trier House, Des Moines, Iowa
estimate: $15,000–20,000
result: $22,500

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, rare Executive Office chair from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma | wright20.com

Frank Lloyd Wright

rare Executive Office chair from Price Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma
estimate: $20,000–30,000
result: $22,500