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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Phyllis Wilson HeissMarietta Times, January 28th
Phyllis had been employed at the museum at Fenton Art Glass for 10 years. ... grandchildren, Heather Torres (Juan), Stephen Wilson (Amy), John Wilson (Katrina), Justin Wilson (Sheree), and Dylan and Kylee Carl; step-grandchildren, Keith Huck (Amy...Read more
Rebecca Louise Law on Her Installation at the Viacom Building in Times SquareNew York Times, January 28th
Hermès, Tiffany and Jo Malone, among other brands, have all commissioned Ms. Law, 34, to transform spaces. Last year at Art ... Once we take it down, I've been creating encased art pieces, putting the flowers in 4-meter-by-3-meter glass boxes. They're...Read more
Colors in the Cold: Abstract Art and Sculpture Highlight Clarke on Feb. 8thArtfixDaily, January 28th
A Pair of Marionette Albert bronze Art Nouveau lamps at $800/$1000 will begin the lighting selection of decorative arts, and a Tiffany & Co. Mantle Clock estimated $1,000/$1,500 will also be auctioned in the category. Galle and Daum glass lots...Read more
St. Ann's Warehouse Extends LET THE RIGHT ONE INBroadway World, January 28th
After Black Watch, Tiffany and Hoggett went on to create together the Broadway hits The Glass Menagerie and Once (with writer and frequent St. Ann's artist, Enda Walsh), as well as several successful Broadway and opera productions individually...Read more
DHS presents 'Chateau La Roach' this weekState Gazette, January 27th
For more information, contact Theatre Arts Instructor Chris Solmon, 731-286-3630. ... Crew members are: MK Alford, Alexis Aufdenkamp, Lydia Bahl, Madison Bailey, Libby Barch, Demerious Bell, Emily Bernier, Michaella Brock, Kamere Brown, Shae Burrell...Read more
'Let the Right One In,' a Romeo & Ghouliet romanceNew York Daily News, January 25th
The show, adapted faithfully by Jack Thorne, marks a collaboration between director John Tiffany and movement specialist Steven Hoggett. They've teamed up before for ... They recently did the Broadway revival of “The Glass Menagerie.” Like the...Read more
'Let the Right One In' Comes to Brooklyn's St. Ann's WarehouseWall Street Journal, January 23rd
Decades before the theater director John Tiffany and choreographer Steven Hoggett created internationally acclaimed productions of “Once,” “Black Watch” and “The Glass Menagerie,” they met as 14-year-old choirboys in Huddersfield, England. The longtime...Read more
Theater Listings for Jan. 23-29New York Times, January 22nd
A hit in London, this tale of supernatural teenage love from the National Theater of Scotland is directed by John Tiffany, with associate direction and movement direction by Steven Hoggett. .... 'A Delicate Balance' Though embodied by the stellar likes...Read more