Louis Comfort Tiffany (February 18, 1848 – January 17, 1933) was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau[1] and Aesthetic movements. He was affiliated with a prestigious collaborative of designers known as the Associated Artists, which included Lockwood de Forest, Candace Wheeler, and Samuel Colman. Tiffany designed stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewellery, enamels, and metalwork.[2] He was the first design director at his family company, Tiffany & Co., founded by his father Charles Lewis Tiffany.

Louis Comfort Tiffany
Tiffany c. 1908
Born(1848-02-18)February 18, 1848
DiedJanuary 17, 1933(1933-01-17) (aged 84)
New York City, U.S.
Resting placeGreen-Wood Cemetery
EducationPennsylvania Military Academy
Eagleswood Military Academy
Known forFavrile glass, Tiffany lamps
Spouse(s)Mary Woodbridge Goddard (1872–1884; her death)
Louise Wakeman Knox (1886–1904; her death)
ChildrenDorothy Burlingham and seven others
Parent(s)Charles Lewis Tiffany
Harriet Olivia Avery Young

Early life edit

Louis Comfort Tiffany was born in New York City, the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany and Company, and Harriet Olivia Avery Young. He attended school at Pennsylvania Military Academy[3] in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Eagleswood Military Academy in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. His first artistic training was as a painter, studying under George Inness in Eagleswood, New Jersey, and Samuel Colman in Irvington, New York. He also studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City in 1866–67 and with salon painter Leon-Adolphe-Auguste Belly in 1868–69. Belly's landscape paintings had a great influence on Tiffany.[4]

Tiffany's 1873 painting Market Day Outside the Walls of Tangiers, Morocco

Career edit

Tiffany started out as a painter, but became interested in glassmaking from about 1875 and worked at several glasshouses in Brooklyn between then and 1878. In 1879 he joined with Candace Wheeler, Samuel Colman, and Lockwood de Forest to form Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists. The business was short-lived, lasting only four years. The group made designs for wallpaper, furniture, and textiles. He later opened his own glass factory in Corona, New York, determined to provide designs that improved the quality of contemporary glass.[5] Tiffany's leadership and talent, as well as his father's money and old firm allows Tiffany to relauch Tiffany studios as a marketing strategy in order for his business to thrive.

The Entrance Hall of the White House in 1882, showing the newly installed Tiffany glass screens
The Alhambra in Granada, by Louis Comfort Tiffany

In 1881 Tiffany did the interior design of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, which still remains, but the new firm's most notable work came in 1882 when President Chester Alan Arthur refused to move into the White House until it had been redecorated. He commissioned Tiffany, who had begun to make a name for himself in New York society for the firm's interior design work, to redo the state rooms, which Arthur found charmless. Tiffany worked on the East Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, the State Dining Room, and the Entrance Hall, refurnishing, repainting in decorative patterns, installing newly designed mantelpieces, changing to wallpaper with dense patterns, and, of course, adding Tiffany glass to gaslight fixtures and windows and adding an opalescent floor-to-ceiling glass screen in the Entrance Hall.[6][7][8] The Tiffany screen and other Victorian additions were all removed in the Roosevelt renovations of 1902, which restored the White House interiors to Federal style in keeping with its architecture.[9]

A desire to concentrate on art in glass led to the breakup of the firm in 1885 when Tiffany chose to establish his own glassmaking firm that same year. The first Tiffany Glass Company was incorporated December 1, 1885, and in 1902 became known as the Tiffany Studios.

In the beginning of his career, Tiffany used cheap jelly jars and bottles because they had the mineral impurities that finer glass lacked. When he was unable to convince fine glassmakers to leave the impurities in, he began making his own glass. Tiffany used opalescent glass in a variety of colors and textures to create a unique style of stained glass. Tiffany acquired Stanford Bray's patent (https://patents.google.com/patent/US349424A/en)for the "copper foil" technique, which, by edging each piece of cut glass in copper foil and soldering the whole together to create his windows and lamps, made possible a level of detail previously unknown. This can be contrasted with the method of painting in enamels or glass paint on colorless glass, and then setting the glass pieces in lead channels, that had been the dominant method of creating stained glass for hundreds of years in Europe.

The First Presbyterian Church building of 1905 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is said to be unique in that it uses Tiffany windows that partially make use of painted glass.[dubious ] Use of the colored glass itself to create stained glass pictures was motivated by the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement and its leader William Morris in England. Fellow artists and glassmakers Oliver Kimberly and Frank Duffner, founders of the Duffner and Kimberly Company and John La Farge were Tiffany's chief competitors in this new American style of stained glass. Tiffany, Duffner and Kimberly, along with La Farge, had learned their craft at the same glasshouses in Brooklyn in the late 1870s.

In 1889 at the Paris Exposition, Tiffany was said to have been "overwhelmed" by the glass work of Émile Gallé, French Art Nouveau artisan.[10] He also met artist Alphonse Mucha.

In 1893, Tiffany built a new factory called the Stourbridge Glass Company, later called Tiffany Glass Furnaces, which was located in Corona, Queens, New York, hiring the Englishman Arthur J. Nash to oversee it.[11] In 1893, his company also introduced the term Favrile in conjunction with his first production of blown glass at his new glass factory. Some early examples of his lamps were exhibited in the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. At the Exposition Universelle (1900) in Paris, he won a gold medal with his stained glass windows The Four Seasons

He trademarked Favrile (from the old French word for handmade) on November 13, 1894. He later used this word to apply to all of his glass, enamel and pottery. 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. At its peak, his factory employed more than 300 artisans. Recent scholarship led by Rutgers professor Martin Eidelberg suggests that a team of talented single women designers – sometimes referred to as the "Tiffany Girls"[12] – led by Clara Driscoll played a big role in designing many of the floral patterns on the famous Tiffany lamp as well as for other creations.[13][14][15][16][17]

Tiffany interiors also made considerable use of mosaics. The mosaics workshop, largely staffed by women, was overseen until 1898 by the Swiss-born sculptor and designer Jacob Adolphus Holzer.

In 1902, Tiffany became the first design director for Tiffany & Co., the jewelry company founded by his father.[18]

1911 saw the installation of an enormous glass curtain fabricated for the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. It is considered by some to be a masterpiece.[10]

Louis Comfort Tiffany (far left) with his parents (seated), pictured holding Tiffany's twin daughters Louise and Julia
Tiffany Studios Daffodil stained glass leaded lampshade, now known to be one of head designer Clara Driscoll's creations
Close-up of a Tiffany Studios "Venetian" desk lamp, c. 1910–20

Tiffany used all his skills in the design of his own house, the 84-room Laurelton Hall, in the village of Laurel Hollow, on Long Island, New York, completed in 1905. Later this estate was donated to his foundation for art students along with 60 acres (243,000 m2) of land, sold in 1949, and destroyed by a fire in 1957.[19]

Aside from his fame for glass and jewelry design, Tiffany also designed what we know today as the New York Yankee's logo.[20]

Personal life edit

Louis married Mary Woodbridge Goddard (c1850-1884) on May 15, 1872, in Norwich, Connecticut, and had the following children:

  • Mary Woodbridge Tiffany (1873–1963) who married Graham Lusk;[21]
  • Charles Louis Tiffany I (1874–1874);
  • Charles Louis Tiffany II (1878–1947) who married Katrina Brandes Ely;
  • Hilda Goddard Tiffany (1879–1908), the youngest.

After the death of his wife, he married Louise Wakeman Knox (1851–1904) on November 9, 1886. They had the following children:

  • Louise Comfort Tiffany (1887–1974), who married Rodman Drake DeKay Gilder;
  • Julia DeForest Tiffany (1887–1973), who married Gurdon S. Parker then married Francis Minot Weld;[22]
  • Annie Olivia Tiffany (1888–1892); and
  • Dorothy Trimble Tiffany (1891–1979), who, as Dorothy Burlingham, later became a noted psychoanalyst and lifelong friend and partner of Anna Freud.
Altar designed by Louis Tiffany at the Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York.
The Holy City (1905) – St. John's vision on the isle of Patmos, one of eleven Tiffany windows at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland. It has 58 panels and is thought to be one of the largest Tiffany Studios windows

Tiffany died on January 17, 1933, and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.[23]

Tiffany is the great-grandfather of investor George Gilder.

Societies edit


Awards and honors edit


Collections edit

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Florida, 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 Tiffany Chapel he designed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After the close of the exposition, a 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 the bulk of it to Laurelton Hall. After a 1957 fire, Hugh McKean[25] (a former art student in 1930 at Laurelton Hall) and his wife Jeannette Genius McKean rescued the chapel,[26] which now occupies an entire wing of the Morse Museum which they founded. Many glass panels from Laurelton Hall are also there; for many years some were on display in local restaurants and businesses in Central Florida. Some were replaced by full-scale color transparencies after the museum opened.

A major exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art on Laurelton Hall opened in November 2006. An exhibit at the New-York Historical Society in 2007 featured new information about the women who worked for Tiffany and their contribution to designs credited to Tiffany; the Society holds and exhibits a major collection of Tiffany's work. In addition, since 1995 the Queens Museum of Art has featured a permanent collection of Tiffany objects, which continues Tiffany's presence in Corona, Queens where the company's studios were once located. Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Indiana, has a collection of 62 Tiffany windows which are still their original placements, but the church is deteriorating and in jeopardy.

In 1906, Tiffany created stained glass windows for the Stanford White-designed Madison Square Presbyterian Church located on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. The church was Tiffany's place of worship, and was torn down in 1919 after the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company bought the land to build their new headquarters. Tiffany had inserted a clause in his contract stipulating that if the church were ever to be demolished, then ownership of the windows would revert to him.[citation needed]

Tiffany enjoyed staying at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, and had become friends with the founder of the Mission Inn, Frank Augustus Miller, so, after meeting with Miller in New York, Tiffany shipped the windows to the Mission Inn; they arrived there in 1924,[27] and were stored until the inn's St. Francis Chapel was completed in 1931. There are six rectangular windows and a 104” diameter window in the rear of the chapel, as well as another 104” diameter window is in the Galeria next to the chapel. A smaller window entitled “Monk At The Organ” featuring a Franciscan friar, is in St Cecelia's Chapel, a wedding chapel, and is engraved with Tiffany's signature. The St Francis Chapel was designed with the intent of prominently displaying Tiffany's windows.[28]

The Arlington Street Church in Boston has 16 Tiffany windows of a set of 20, designed by Frederick Wilson (1858–1932), Tiffany's chief designer for ecclesiastical windows.[29] They were gradually installed between 1889 and 1929. The church archives include designs for 4 additional windows which were never commissioned due to financial constraints caused by the Great Depression.[30] When funds again became available, Tiffany Studios had gone out of business and its stockpile of glass had been dispersed and lost, ending the prospect of completing the set.[30] Also in the Back Bay district of Boston is Frederick Ayer Mansion, one of three surviving examples of Tiffany interiors, and the only surviving building also possessing exterior mosaics designed by Tiffany.[31]

The Pine Street Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island, was opened in 1917 at Lloyd and Wayland Street as Central Baptist and in 2003, became known as Community Church of Providence. Between 1917 and 2018 the church featured a large Tiffany stained glass memorial to Frederick W. Hartwell that was created by Agnes F. Northrop[32] and entitled "Light in Heaven and Earth". The complex work, considered "one of the largest and finest landscape windows ever produced by Tiffany Studios", largely was overlooked in the community. In 2018, the church sold the window to the Art Institute of Chicago. After conservation and preparation, it will be displayed prominently as the Hartwell Memorial Window.[33]

Significant collections of Tiffany windows outside the United States are the 17 windows in the former Erskine and American United Church, now part of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, Canada,[34] and the two windows in the American Church in Paris, on the Quai d'Orsay, which have been classified as National Monuments by the French government; these were commissioned by Rodman Wanamaker in 1901 for the original American Church building on the right bank of the Seine.

The Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington, England,[35] contains a collection of more than 140 examples of the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, including vases, tiles, lamps, and mosaics. The collection, which claims to be the largest collection of publicly owned Tiffany glass outside of the United States, contains a fine example of an Aquamarine vase and the noted Sulphur Crested Cockatoos mosaic.

Gallery edit

See also edit

References edit


  1. ^ Lander, David. "The Buyable Past: Quezal Glass" Archived August 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine American Heritage (April/May 2006)
  2. ^ Warmus, William. The Essential Louis Comfort Tiffany. New York: Abrams, 2001. Pages 5–8.
  3. ^ "Widener University: Distinguished Alumni". Widener University. Archived from the original on July 20, 2008. Retrieved October 6, 2008.
  4. ^ Baal-Teshuva, Jacob. Louis Comfort Tiffany. Taschen. pp. 12–14.
  5. ^ Baal- Teshuva, Jacob. Louis Comfort Tiffany. Taschen. pp. 22–30.
  6. ^ "Victorian Ornamentation" on WhiteHouseMuseum.org
  7. ^ "White House Timelines: Architecture" Archived January 17, 2011, at the Wayback Machine on the White House Historical Association website
  8. ^ "White House Timelines: Decorative Arts" Archived October 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine on the White House Historical Association website
  9. ^ "Theodore Roosevelt Renovation, 1902". The White House Museum. Retrieved December 12, 2013.
  10. ^ a b Encyclopædia Britannica
  11. ^ Campell, Gordon, ed. (2006). "Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts, vol. 2, pp. 464". Oxford University Press.
  12. ^ Gafffney, Dennis "Who Were the Tiffany Girls?" Antiques Roadshow website (January 12, 2015)
  13. ^ Taylor, Kate (February 13, 2007). "Tiffany's Secret Is Over". New York Sun. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  14. ^ Johnson, Caitlin A. (April 15, 2007). "Tiffany Glass Never Goes Out Of Style". CBS News. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  15. ^ Kastner, Jeffrey (February 25, 2007). "Out of Tiffany's Shadow, a Woman of Light". The New York Times. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  16. ^ Goodman, Vivian (January 14, 2007). "Exhibition Honors Woman Behind the Tiffany Lamp". NPR. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  17. ^ "Spare Times". The New York Times. April 7, 2006. Retrieved November 16, 2009.
  18. ^ "Louis Comfort Tiffany" on the Tiffany & Co. website
  19. ^ "Laurelton Hall, Louis Comfort Tiffany's Long Island estate". www.morsemuseum.org. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  20. ^ "NYPD & Tiffany: The story behind Yanks' logo". www.mlb.com. February 4, 2021.
  21. ^ Pennoyer, Peter; Walker, Anne; Stern, Robert A. M. (2009). The Architecture of Grosvenor Atterbury. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 270. ISBN 9780393732221. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  22. ^ "Mrs. Parker Weds Francis M. Weld". The New York Times. August 18, 1930.
  23. ^ a b c "Louis C. Tiffany, Noted Artist, Dies" New York Times (January 18, 1933)
  24. ^ Frelinghuysen, Alice Cooney; Obniski, Monica. "Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933)". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved July 31, 2013.
  25. ^ Hugh McKean
  26. ^ Jeannette Genius McKean
  27. ^ Riverside Daily Press (June 12, 1924)
  28. ^ Lech, Steve (2005). Riverside in Vintage Postcards. Arcadia Publishing. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-7385-2978-3. the Saint Francis Chapel had to be specially designed to house them
  29. ^ "About Tiffany Windows". ASC Tiffany. Foundation for the Preservation of 20 Arlington Street. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  30. ^ a b "Our Windows: A Guide to the Historic Collection of Tiffany Windows" (PDF). Arlington Street Church. Arlington Street Church. Retrieved May 16, 2017.
  31. ^ "NHL nomination for Frederick Ayer Mansion" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved May 30, 2014.
  32. ^ McGreevy, Nora, Stunning Tiffany Stained Glass Debuts After 100 Years of Obscurity, Smithsonian Magazine, May 28, 2021
  33. ^ Naylor, Donita (February 21, 2020). "Tiffany church window, unnoticed in Providence, will be a star attraction in Chicago art museum". The Providence Journal. Archived from the original on February 23, 2020. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  34. ^ Mathieu, Christine Johanne. The History of the Tiffany Windows at the Erskine and American Church, Montreal Concordia University (Master of Arts Thesis), 1999
  35. ^ "Haworth Art Gallery" on the Hyndburn Borough Council website


  • Tiffany, Louis Comfort & de Kay, Charles. The Art Work of Louis C. Tiffany. Doubleday, Page & Co, New York, 1916

Further reading

External links edit