When we think of American Art Nouveau art glass, the objects that first spring to mind are probably the leaded lamp shades and iridescent vases of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). The son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, the famous jewelry designer, Tiffany studied painting with the great landscape painter George Inness; later, in Paris, he learned art glass techniques from the French master Emile Galle. These experiences informed Tiffany’s work at Louis C. Tiffany and Co., Associated Artists, which he established in 1879. The firm was renamed Tiffany Glass Co. in 1885, Tiffany Glass and Decorating Co. in 1892, and Tiffany Studios in 1900.
Another influence on Tiffany was ancient Greek and Roman glass, both the finishes and forms. Yet despite his focus on classic designs and naturalistic imagery, Tiffany was a technological innovator. Perhaps because he was a designer rather than an artisan, Tiffany worked and collaborated with some of the best thinkers, inventors, and craftsmen of his day. For his glass studio, Tiffany hired British chemist Arthur J. Nash, who remained with the firm until 1919; his son took it over in 1928.
The advent of electricity was also of keen interest to Tiffany. For an 1885 commission of sconces for the Lyceum Theatre in New York, Tiffany worked with Thomas A. Edison, who installed some of the electrical lighting himself. By 1906, Tiffany Studios was selling more than 400 models of electric and oil lamps and hanging shades.
Throughout, blown glass remained a preoccupation for Tiffany — it was, after all, why he had brought Nash to the firm in the first place. In order to have as much control on the process as possible, in 1893 Tiffany installed glass-blowing furnaces at his studio. A year later, with the help of Nash’s glass recipes, which Nash reportedly never revealed even to Tiffany, the Favrile brand was born.
Favrile glass was prized then, and is still admired today, for its eye-catching iridescent surfaces. The Favrile line included classic forms harking back to Tiffany’s fondness for all things ancient, as well as for new inventions like the paperweight vases, which are technical marvels that remain difficult for contemporary artists and artisans to duplicate to this day.
The paperweight vases are thick, making them a challenge to keep balanced on the end of a blow pipe, with a layer of decoration (usually flowers created from millefiori) sandwiched between clear layers of aqua-colored glass. A signed piece with no chips can bring tens of thousands of dollars at auction.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Tiffany’s love for leaded-glass windows and electrical lamps combined into a series of lamp shades on bronze bases. Despite being made of hard materials, the lamp shades seem to drip and drape over their light sources, in dense organic patterns resembling wisteria, apple blossoms, and other plants and trees...
After Tiffany’s death, his studios continued to produce stained glass windows for churches, but within a few years, as the Depression deepened, the studio closed (Tiffany never jumped on the Art Deco bandwagon). Today, Tiffany glass remains among the world’s most collected types of art glass, which has also made it a favorite of everyone from forgers to legitimate art-glass studios, many of whom have made names for themselves by producing historically accurate pieces in the 'Tiffany style.'
Key terms for Tiffany Art Glass:
Favrile: A technique for producing iridescent glass, patented by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1894, in which metallic and chemical compounds are applied to molten glass. Iridescence is achieved when air to the furnace is reduced, a process known as reduction, leaving only the metallic part of the compound on the surface of the glass.
Millefiori: An ancient glass technique, popularized in the 19th century, in which rods of fused glass are cut into cross sections to reveal patterns, frequently resembling flowers.
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Recent News: Tiffany Art Glass
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TGIF: Places to go and things to do in Northeast PennsylvaniaScranton Times-Tribune, May 22nd
today, Take 3; Saturday, Kevin & Tiffany. ... 6, 6 to 9 p.m., Glass — wine. bar. kitchen., Ledges Hotel, 119 Falls Ave., Hawley, $32.50. ... WAYNE COUNTY CREATIVE ARTS COUNCIL CONCERTS: Northeasters Barbershop Chorus, June 15; Gypsy Jazz Quintet, June...Read more
Saying goodbye to David Letterman, the establishment's rebel-in-chiefEntertainment Weekly (blog), May 21st
Stupid pet tricks and stupid human tricks, viewer mail and Top Ten lists, the Monkey Cam and the Alka-Seltzer and Velcro suits, throwaway gags like throwing pencils through the windowless lattice behind his desk and triggering a shattering-glass sound...Read more
O'Keeffe Flower Painting, Tiffany Glass Lead Sotheby's SalesArtfixDaily, May 20th
The auction was led by White Calla Lily, a prime example of Georgia O'Keeffe's iconic flower paintings that the artist kept in her own collection until her death in 1986, and which has remained in the same private collection for more than two decades...Read more
Crowded Fire Theater in Third Season on the HillThe Potrero View, May 20th
After wandering from house to house for several years, Crowded Fire is now anchored at Thick House Theater, a hidden gem of an 80-seat proscenium stage inside a glass and corrugated metal building located on 18th Street between Arkansas and De...Read more
Love & Hip Hop Atlanta: Season 4, Episode 5, “Rumor Has It…” RecapWetpaint, May 19th
Tiffany's not too eager to bring Mimi on —especially since she already has a manager — but Mimi proposes that if she can deliver Tiffany a good producer for her '90s-inspired track, then the two can talk business. Tiffany agrees. ... With a bruised...Read more
7 on the Streets: Fullerton, Wabansia, Hiawatha avenuesWLS-TV, May 19th
After Fullerton's death in 1880, his son Charles inherited large real estate holdings and money, which he used at the Art Institute. Fullerton Hall, with its Tiffany glass dome, was built in honor of Alexander Fullerton with money donated by his son...Read more
Time Travelers Welcome at “Out of the Vault: 25 Years of Collecting” at the ...New York Times, May 15th
Wandering through “Out of the Vault: 25 Years of Collecting,” the current exhibition at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor, a visitor might sometimes feel a jolt. The content and style of the art can change drastically from gallery to...Read more
Art on the Square weekend scheduleBelleville News-Democrat, May 14th
10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — Presentation by Tiffany Brooks, interior designer and host of HGTV's “Smart House,” on Living with Art Design Stage. 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Music by the Dixie All-Stars on main stage. 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — Music by Mark...Read more