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

About his life

Louis Tiffany was a world-known artist, designer, and glassblower. He was  born in New York in 1848 in the family of Charles Tiffany, a renowned jeweler, and founder of Tiffany & Company. Louis began experimenting with stained glass in 1875, and in 1878 he co-founded a glass company in New York. Around the mid-1880s, he founded his own company (later named Tiffany Studios). In the early 1890s, he created a glass known for its iridescent color called Favril, which helped cement his status as a world leader in glass production. He died in New York in 1933.

Photo of Tiffany, Blank & Stoller, about 1920

Image source: http://www.morsemuseum.org

What were his major works?

Lead glass panels represent the ultimate achievement in Tiffany glass production. Tiffany windows are designed to be seen, not through. The glass was transparent or opaque, of various colors, sometimes sinuous, and designed to reflect light like a precious stone. The windows and frescoes contained small pieces of glass, cut to shape and plated with lead, creating a single dazzling pattern. Opaque glass tiles have also been used to good effect as they adorn walls, mantles, and screens. Among its stained glass windows, the “Seasons” stand out, symbolizing the epic structure of life, birth, aging, death, and rebirth. Preserved today with all their brilliant elements, these panels remain central topics for understanding genius, innovation, and Tiffany’s place in American design.

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

Image source: http://www.morsemuseum.org

Tiffany lamps quickly became popular in the United States and abroad.  Tiny pieces of glass were decorated with natural patterns with flowers, butterflies, or dragonflies. The bronze base completes the shadow with lead. Subsequently, some of the shades were made in folds of pressed glass panels, creating a tweed look. Its lamps include the legendary Dragonfly, a leaded and patinated bronze table lamp, and a Flower Blossom table lamp.

Dragonfly table lamp, Tiffany, 1910

Image source: http://www.macklowegallery.com

How can we identify Tiffany’s style?

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

Image source: https://www.bohaglass.co.uk

Info sources: http://www.studiosoft.it http://www.morsemuseum.org http://www.senses-artnouveau.com http://www.encyclopedia.com https://en.wikipedia.org