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 in...
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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John Tiffany on quitting Scotland and confounding the criticsHerald Scotland, May 24th
of which, Black Watch, won him a Laurence Olivier Award and a Critics' Circle Award for Best Director, and maybe more than a few late nights singing Kate Bush songs loudly enough to bother his Glasgow neighbours, John Tiffany is getting ready to leave...Read more
Family fun begins with a trip to an area attractionFall River Herald News, May 24th
Audubon Society of Rhode Island Environmental Education Center, 1401 Hope St. (Route 114), Bristol, R.I., is a state-of-the art natural history museum and aquarium that puts fun and excitement into experiencing nature. Look inside a 33-foot life-size...Read more
Vampire show is Black Watch director's last for National TheatreScottish Daily Record, May 24th
TONY-winning director John Tiffany, who made Black Watch a long-running international success story, said Let The Right One In is his swansong for the National Theatre of Scotland. Tiffany, 42, stood down as NTS By the end of 2013, he'll have...Read more
RAGO AUCTIONS JUNE 6 OPEN HOUSE FEATURES A TALK BY DR. MARTIN ...ArtfixDaily (press release), May 23rd
Dr. Martin Eidelberg is a prominent American professor emeritus of art history at Rutgers University and expert on art pottery and Tiffany glass. Dr. Eidelberg has two principal fields of research: He has published widely on the drawings and paintings...Read more
Go Gatsby: Give your home some razzle dazzleIrish Independent, May 23rd
Reflect light with decorative all-glass mirrors which are 'art' for walls. You're spoilt for choice at The Chandelier & Mirror Company, and its Foggia mirror is a classic in an art deco Venetian Sunburst style using more than 90 separate angled mirror...Read more
French Waitress Comes Out, Declares She's A Lesbian At Diner (VIDEO)Huffington Post, May 22nd
Anderson Cooper, 2012. Anderson Cooper's sexuality had been <a href="http://www.out.com/entertainment/2008/09/22/glass-closet">scrutinized for years</a> but it wasn't until July 2012 that he finally addressed the issue when he <a target="_hplink...Read more
The Great Gatsby's Elizabeth Debicki's glamourous time at her first Cannes ...The Daily Telegraph, May 22nd
They are a true piece of art-meets-couture. I was quite involved - Alex is wonderfully collaborative. Tiffany & Co collaborated with Catherine Martin on the film, and I was lucky enough to wear some of their stunning diamond pieces on the night. Q...Read more
Colorful Serendipity for a School's SculptureNew York Times, April 26th
But last week the discovery of a thousand or more shards of colorful Tiffany glass, stumbled on while clearing the site of a former Tiffany factory for a new school building in Corona, Queens, is expected to give a sculpture commissioned for the school...Read more