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.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Neustadt Tiffany Collection

Neustadt Tiffany Collection

This stunning gallery of 138 Tiffany lamps and lampshades, part of the Dr. Egon Neustadt Collection presented by th… [read review or visit site]



This archived overview produced by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts offers thumbnail sketches of the design moveme… [read review or visit site]



This fabulous site is a guide to Bohemian art glass makers from 1885 to 1920. Loetz was the premier Bohemian glass … [read review or visit site]

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Chris and Val Stewart’s impressive attempt to create a complete catalogue of all known cloud glass, a decorative … [read review or visit site]

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

The heart of this website, home of the Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club, is the Identification Project, whe… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique Authentic L.c.t Tiffany Favrile Art Glass Footed Open Salt Cellar BowlIn The Manner Of Tiffany (lct, Louis Comfort) ? Pulled Feather Squat VaseSigned Lct Gold Favrile Iridescent Glass Threaded Punts Finger Nut Bowl DishPr Antique Art Glass Iridized Draped Ruffle Lamp Shades Tiffany Loetz SteubenSigned Tiffany Studios Favrile Glass Cordial - Toothpick - Jigger |circa 1902 NrTiffany & Co Tall Crystal Wine Glasses Mib Made In SwedenTiffany & Co Crystal Decanter Classic Square With StopperVtg Tiffany & Co Crystal Present Gift Trinket Jewelry Presentation Box SignedA Pair Of Bamboo Candlesticks By Tiffany Studios New YorkTiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti Crystal Made In Japan Trinket Box No ReserveSix Contemporary Art Glass Turtleback Tiles | Iridescent Gold Tiffany Style | NrAntique Signed Lct Tiffany Favrille Art Glass Opalescent Footed Bowl & Plate ExTiffany & Co. Ceramic Trinket Box With White Bow 2" Square ExcellentLundburg Studio Tiffany Style Art Glass Vase* 13"* 2000 #81513Tiffany&co Crystal Clear Ice Bucket Scroll Patt Champagne Cooler Signed Box Bag Tiffany & Co Etched Floral Crystal Vase - Hexagon Urn Shaped - 10 1/4"Tiffany & Co Cut Crystal Rock Cut Champagne Ice Bucket Six Contemporary Art Glass Turtleback Tiles | Iridescent Green Tiffany Style NrTiffany&co Crystal Clear Ice Bucket Scroll Patt Champagne Cooler Signed Box Bag Tiffany & Co Etched Floral Crystal Hexagan Vase / UrnTiffany & Co. Crystal Rose BowlTiffany Glass Bowl: Etched Presidential Seal & "appreciation" By Bill ClintonTiffany & Co. Crystal Glass Candle Sticks Set 8" Classic W/ Box !!! Very NiceTiffany & Co. Tiffany Weave White Cup Made In Ireland31/4 X 3 Tiffany And Co. Art Glass Gift Box Beautiful20.5" X 34.25" Tiffany Style Stained Glass Clear Beveled Window Panel Sold As IsTiffany . Co Crystal Candlestick Holders 9 1/4" Pair Set Of 2 GermanyMerrill Lynch Quarter Century Club Dish By Tiffany & CoNib Tiffany & Co. Clear Glass Squared Off Crystal Bowl With BoxModern Tiffany Crystal Vase 7.5"Tiffany & Co. Rock Cut Salad Dessert Plate 8" Perfect Sticker Still AttachedNwob Tiffany & Co. Crystal "rock Cut" Plate Nwob Tiffany & Co. Crystal PlateTiffany & Co. 12" Honeycomb Platter In Crystal Glass - New In BoxVintage Tiffany & Co. Hearts Large Crystal Bowl 8" With Sticker And SignedTiffany & Co. Glass BowlSotheby 12/16/10 Tiffany Lamps Art Glass VasesTiffany & Co. William Yeoward Magnum Margot Crystal Decanter Jug Engraved