Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933)

 American painter, decorator and designer, Louis Comfort Tiffany made significant contributions to the art of glassmaking and decorative design. He was one of the icons of Art Nouveau.

Photo of Tiffany, 1908

image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Comfort_Tiffany#/media/File:Louis_Comfort_Tiffany_c._1908.jpg

About his life

Born in New York City in 1848, Louis Tiffany was a painter, designer and world-famous glass maker. The son of famed jeweler and Tiffany & Co. founder Charles Tiffany, he began experimenting with stained glass in 1875, and co-founded a glass-making company in New York City in 1878. When disagreements between Tiffany and his partners caused the business to close in the mid-1880s, Tiffany started his own firm (later named Tiffany Studios). In the early 1890s, he created a type of glass known for its iridescent coloring, called “Favrile“, helping him secure his status as a world leader in glass production. He died in New York City in 1933.

info source: https://www.biography.com/people/louis-tiffany-9507399

Photo of Tiffany, Blank & Stoller, about 1920

image source: http://www.morsemuseum.org/collection-highlights/people/louis-comfort-tiffany

What were his major works?

The leaded glass panels represent the highest achievement in Tiffany glassmaking.

Tiffany windows were intended to be looked at, rather than through. The glass was clear or opaque, vari-colored, sometimes convoluted, and designed to reflect light like a fine gemstone. Windows and murals contained small pieces of glass, cut to shape and leaded, creating a dazzling, unified pattern, Opaque glass tiles were also used to good effect as they adorned walls, mantlepieces, and screens. Among his stained glass windows stands out Four Seasons, which symbolize the epic structure of life, of birth, aging, death, and rebirth. Surviving today with all their brilliant elements, these panels remain central works in understanding Tiffany’s genius, innovation, and place in American design.

Autumn panel from the Four Seasons window, Tiffany, 1899-1900

image source: http://www.morsemuseum.org/assets/uploads/art/57-019.png

Tiffany lamps quickly became popular at home and abroad. The tiny pieces of glass were set in a natural pattern, featuring flowers, butterflies, or dragonflies. The bronze base complemented the leaded shade. Later, some shades were made in folds from panels of pressed glass, creating the appearance of a tweedy fabric. Among his lamps stands out the iconic Dragonfly, a leaded glass and patinated bronze table lamp, and the Flower Blossom table lamp.

info source: http://www.studiosoft.it/antiquetiffany.htm

info source: http://www.morsemuseum.org/collection-highlights/windows/spring-panel

info source: http://www.senses-artnouveau.com/biography.php?artist=TIF

Dragonfly table lamp, Tiffany, 1910

image source: http://www.macklowegallery.com/gallery/L-14045.jpg

How can we identify Tiffany’s style?

  • Tiffany is an Art Nouveau designer.
  • He used a multitude of colors and different types of glass: Opalescent glassStreamer glassFracture glassFracture-streamer glassRing mottle glassRipple glassDrapery glass, and the Favrile glass, which he developed and it became synonymous with handmade products of high quality.
  • The lamps had shades of stained glass which was leaded in flower forms, geometric shapes, or tiles. Some of the shapes are derived from classical art, and others are inspired by Egyptian, Byzantine, Romanesque, and even Japanese forms.
  • Tiffany’s aesthetic was based on his conviction that nature should be the primary source of design inspiration

info source: http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/american-art-biographies/louis-comfort-tiffany

info source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiffany_glass

info source: http://www.morsemuseum.org/louis-comfort-tiffany

A Tiffany Favrile vase

image source: https://www.bohaglass.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/tiffany_blue_king_tut_art_glass.jpg