Tiffany's Stained Glass Legacy
By [http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Lois_Dewitt/136440]Lois Dewitt
Louis Comfort Tiffany was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany and Company. He was born in February 18, 1848, heir to an already successful enterprising family.
Tiffany studied painting in Paris and painted oils and watercolors in Europe and Morocco. His family wealth and connections ultimately would help make his own artistic business do very well. Louis Tiffany became interested in glassmaking in 1875 and then worked at several glasshouses in Brooklyn until 1878. In 1879, he partnered with Candace Wheeler, Samuel Coleman and Lockwood de Forest to form a company known as Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists. Establishing Tiffany Studios, the firm specialized in favrile lamps and vases of iridescent glass made in natural forms in the art nouveau style. He trademarked Favrile (a French word meaning handmade) on November 13, 1894. The lamps became very popular and were widely imitated. To this day, Louis Comfort Tiffany is best known for his work promulgating the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic art movements. Ironically, he did not trademark his own name and to this day, the term "Tiffany" describes the stained glass technique and style used in the manufacture of objects, including light fixtures, vases, bowls, windows and architectural details.
Although he embarked on starting his own business, Tiffany always kept close ties with the family firm and he became Artistic Director of Tiffany & Co. after his father's death in 1902. The Tiffany Studios remained in business until 1932.
Tiffany loved the textures, color and mineral impurities of commercial jelly jars and bottles. Fine glassmakers would not leave the impurities in, so he began making his own glass that had those textures and impurities. In 1893 Tiffany built a new factory, which became known as the Tiffany Glass Furnaces, located in Corona, Queens, New York. In 1893, the Tiffany Company introduced the term, favrile in conjunction with his first production of blown glass at his new glass factory. Tiffany lamps were exhibited in the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.
Tiffany's first commercially produced lamps date from around 1895. Much of his company's production was in making stained glass windows and Tiffany lamps, but his company designed a complete range of interior decorations including pottery and enamel pieces, as well. At its peak, his factory employed over three hundred artisans.
Tiffany used opalescent glass in a variety of colors and textures to create a unique style of stained glass. He used all of his skills in the design of his own house, an 84-room estate called Laurelton Hall, in Oyster Bay, Long Island. It was completed in 1905. Later this estate was donated to his foundation for art students along with 60 acres of land. The entire estate was sold in 1949, and, unfortunately, was completely destroyed by a fire in 1957.
The Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Florida was founded by Hugh McKean, a former art student at Laurelton Hall. The Museum houses the world's most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, including Tiffany jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, leaded-glass windows, lamps, and the chapel interior he designed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After the close of the exposition, a generous benefactor purchased the entire chapel for installation in the crypt of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York in New York City. As construction on the cathedral continued, the chapel fell into disuse, and in 1916 Tiffany removed it and re-installed it at Laurelton Hall. After the 1957 fire, the chapel was rescued by Hugh McKean and it now occupies an entire wing of the Morse Museum. Many glass panels from Laurelton Hall are on exhibit as well.
A major exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on Laurelton Hall opened in November 2006. A new exhibit at the New-York Historical Society in May, 2007, features new information about the women who worked for Tiffany and their contribution to designs credited to Tiffany. Louis Comfort Tiffany died on January 17, 1933. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.
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