Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Beautiful Leaded Glass Lamps by Louis Comfort Tiffany, c. 1905-1910

Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Isabella reporting,

This afternoon I visited a vibrantly beautiful new exhibition at Winterthur Museum. Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light is exactly that - a glowing selection of some of the most iconic leaded glass works designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Organized by The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, the exhibition includes several large windows as well as the justly famous lamps, some anchored by bronze bases or suspended like brilliant lanterns in the air. Forget all those cheesy bad replicas in casual dining restaurants - the originals are breathtaking works of art, like jewels of light.

While I'd known that the Tiffany shades were leaded glass - small pieces of colored glass fitted together and held together with strips of copper and lead - I hadn't realized that the process was much like making a mosaic. There was no additional painting or tinting of the pieces of glass. Each piece of specially made opalescent glass was chosen individually to fit the design by skilled craftspeople. It must have been painstaking work, but the care and artistry showed in every item.

One of the things that really brought the lamps to life were the "jewels," molded pieces of colored glass in various shapes that were used as accents along with the pieces of flat glass. The jewels were a Tiffany speciality, and added texture as well as color. The jewels are particularly evident in the dragonfly shade, above left - they're the rounded bubbles of luminous blue glass. Magic!

I'm going to share more about the fascinating process of creating the shades in a future blog. The exhibition runs now through January 3, 2016; click here for more information.

Top left: Dragonfly hanging shade, c.1905. Tiffany Studios.
Right: Peony library lamp, c.1905. Tiffany Studios.
Bottom left: Poinsettia Border reading lamp, c. 1910. Tiffany Studios.
All lamps from The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass.
Photographs ©2015 Susan Holloway Scott.


Connie said...

I have always loved Tiffany lamps and find the designs to be so intricate. So, when I recently read the book, TIFFANY GIRL by Deeanne Gist, I learned a lot more about the man, Louis Tiffany, as well as the incredible amount of work that goes into putting each piece together. If you are interested in learning more about the process and enjoy a good book at the same time, I highly recommend this one. When I feel that I have enjoyed a good story in addition to learning something, then those are the books that remain with me.

Thanks for the beautiful post today. So pretty!

Connie Fischer

Hels said...

It seems there were a few important early influences on Tiffany's eventual career. Firstly his dad had a jewellery company; secondly the young man studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City; and thirdly he studied with Léon Bailly in Paris. What a clever and entrepreneurial young man he turned out to be.

Life and Dreaming said...

For anyone who is interested in Tiffany, I'd recommend a visit to the Morse Museum in Winter Park, Florida. One of the museum founders had worked and studied at Tiffany's home, Laurelton Hall. After a fire at the hall in the 1950s, the museum founder salvaged windows and architectural elements and restored and displayed them in the museum, along with a huge collection of Tiffany lamps, jewelry, paintings, windows, and a chapel Tiffany designed for the 1893 World's Fair. It's an amazingly rich and deep collection.

Isabella Bradford/Susan Holloway Scott said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Connie - I'll check it out. One of the things I found interesting about Louis Comfort Tiffany is that he sought out - and rewarded - talent, regardless of gender or nationality. He had workers from all over Europe, and some of his best and most gifted artists were young women. A fascinating man all around!

Hels - Louis Comfort Tiffany reminds me of Whistler and Sargent - 19th c. American artists who studied and travelled extensively abroad, absorbing influences not just from European masters, but also from the Middle East and Asia, and in Tiffany's case, from the Native American cultures back home as well.

Aparatchick - I attended a lecture at Winterthur by Tiffany's design director emeritus John Loring, and he spoke quite a bit about the Morse Museum. It's such a shame that Tiffany's home burned - apparently not only was the beautiful building and furnishing destroyed, but also all his drawings and sketches. Ironic that glass is born of fire, and fire is what destroyed his home....

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