Louis Comfort “Tiffany at Lafayette” · Art Galleries · Lafayette College louis comfort tiffany

Louis Comfort “Tiffany at Lafayette”

Tiffany at Lafayette

At the turn of the last century, two superb art glass windows were commissioned for Lafayette College from Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company in New York City—Alcuin and Charlemagne (1898) for Pardee Hall and The Death of Sir Philip Sidney (1899) for Van Wickle Memorial Library (now Van Wickle Hall). For the last decade, ever since these two windows were successfully restored and installed in Skillman Library, the Lafayette College Art Galleries and Skillman Library’s Special Collections have wanted to host a proper celebration of the magnificent Tiffany legacy at Lafayette College. This spring, with the assistance of some remarkably generous Lafayette alumni, we are able to offer a trio of exhibitions and an array of programs to celebrate this legacy.


Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color
Williams Center Gallery, March 4–June 4, 2016

Organized by the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass in New York, the exhibition is comprised of windows, lamps, and a large selection of loose glass pieces that illustrate Tiffany’s masterful use of opalescent glass to achieve painterly results. These objects are some of the company’s most iconic and celebrated, chosen because they exemplify the rich and varied glass palette, sensitive color selection, and intricacy of design characteristic of Tiffany’s leaded-glass art.

Curator Lindsy R. Parrott, Director
Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, New York

Exhibition made possible by the generous support of Ellen Kravet Burke, Lafayette Class of 1976, and Ray Burke, Lafayette Class of 1975, in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Larry Kravet, Floral Park, New York



The Tiffany Legacy at Lafayette
Simon Room, Skillman Library, February–July, 2016

Materials from the Lafayette Archives document the four Tiffany Studios windows owned by the College; the loss of two by fire; the restoration of the two now installed in Skillman; and the family connection to Tiffany, whose second wife, Louise Wakeman Knox, was the daughter of Lafayette President James Hall Mason Knox.

Exhibition made possible by the generous support of Stephen Parahus, Lafayette Class of 1984


The Perilous & Thrilling Adventures of the Good Ship Molly-Polly Chunker Lass Gallery, Skillman Library, February–July, 2016

Photographs and excerpts from the log of the Molly-Polly Chunker offer a glimpse of the pre-wedding boating party of Louis Tiffany and Louise Knox and friends aboard a mule-drawn barge on Pennsylvania’s Delaware and Lehigh Canals from Bristol to Mauch Chunk in 1886.

Images courtesy of the National Canal Museum, an affiliate of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Easton, Pennsylvania

Exhibition made possible by the generous support of Philip D. Wolfe, Lafayette Class of 1957



Friday, March 4|
Brown Bag, Noon, Oechsle 224 (lunch provided)

“Glass Science: Shedding Light on the Artist’s Palette”
Glen Cook, Chief Scientist
The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York

The expressive power of glass as an artistic medium has roots in the material’s fundamental chemistry and physics. Cook will discuss how, over 3,500 years, humans have harnessed extreme temperatures to transform humble rocks into masterpieces of color, clarity, and form, and into the high-tech devices so ubiquitous in today’s culture.

Co-sponsored by the Division of Engineering; IDEAL Center for Innovation; and the Departments of Art, Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering


Friday, March 4
Lecture and opening reception, 4:30 p.m., Williams Center 108 & Gallery

“Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light”
Lindsy R. Parrott, Director
The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, New York

Louis C. Tiffany’s windows and lamps are widely admired and celebrated, but what is it that makes these works so special? How are they different from other works in stained glass? This illustrated lecture will answer these questions by exploring the new types of glass and innovative fabrication techniques Tiffany used to “paint” with color and light.


Wednesday, April 6 “Tiffany at Lafayette” Symposium Lecture, 4:10 p.m., Williams Center 108

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“Intimate Blending: Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Life and Art”
Jennifer Perry Thalheimer, Curator and Collection Manager, The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park, Florida

The period (1886-1904) of Louis C. Tiffany’s second marriage to Louise Wakeman Knox, daughter of Lafayette College president James Hall Mason Knox, was particularly productive for the artist. Thalheimer will examine Tiffany’s creative activities during this time as well as his home and family life.


“Tiffany at Lafayette” Symposium Lecture and Dessert Reception, 7:30 p.m., Gendebien Room, Skillman Library & Simon Room

Sir Philip Sidney, 1899, detail. Photo: David W. Coulter

“Creating Character: Tiffany Windows for Colleges”
Elizabeth De Rosa, Independent Curator

De Rosa, who writes about Louis C. Tiffany’s American patrons and his place within the wider European art nouveau movement, will discuss the commissioning of Lafayette’s windows and compare them to other college commissions of Tiffany windows.

Thursday, April 7 “Tiffany at Lafayette” Symposium Brown Bag Talk, 12:15 p.m., Gendebien Room, Skillman Library (lunch provided)



“Tiffany Rekindled: Restoring Lafayette’s Stained-glass Masterpieces”
Richard Prigg, Proprietor, Sycamore Studio Stained Glass, Landsdowne, Pennsylvania

Prigg will present an illustrated discussion of the restoration work performed by Willet Hauser on both the Alcuin and Charlemagne and The Death of Sir Philip Sidney windows, including descriptions of the different structure of each window, and v plaalktc. tiffany \u0026 co necklacearious problem-solving methods used to re-create missing plates and areas of the windows where the glass had chemically decomposed.

Co-sponsored by the IDEAL Center for Innovation


Sunday, April 10
Lecture, 3:00 p.m., College Hill Presbyterian Church
501 Broadhead Street, Easton, Pennsylvania

“Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Commemoration”
Patricia C. Pongracz, Executive Director
Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, Morristown, New Jersey

This illustrated lecture will examine the commemorative work of Tiffany Studios, including memorial windows for churches and synagogues and windows and other decorations created for mausoleums, such as mosaics, fine metalwork, and furniture. College Hill Presbyterian’s Tiffany window, donated by the Gerstell family in the 1920s, will also be featured.

Co-sponsored by College Hill Presbyterian Church and Chautauqua of the Forks of the Delaware, Easton

Special Collections and College Archives
David Bishop Skillman Library
710 Sullivan Road
Lafayette College
Easton, PA 18042-1797
archives.lafayette.edu | archives@lafayette.edu
(610) 330–5418
Skillman Library exhibit hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily

Williams Center Gallery
Williams Center for the Arts
317 Hamilton Street
Easton, PA 18042-1768
(610) 330- 5361
galleries.lafayette.edu | artgallery@lafayette.edu

Williams Center Gallery hours:

Monday–Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday 12 p.m.-5 p.m.

Lafayette College Art Galleries and EPI receive state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.















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Daytonian in Manhattan

The stories behind the buildings, statues and other points of interest that make Manhattan fascinating.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Lost Louis Comfort Tiffany Mansion -- 898 Madison Avenue

photo nyago.com
In 1880 Charles Tiffany, founder and principal owner of Tiffany & Co. jewelers, and his wife Harriet Olivia Avery Young were living in a luxurious home on Madison Avenue near 38th Street along with their daughter Louise. Their sons, Charles and Louis Comfort Tiffany had since moved out -- Louis and his family were living in an apartment building on 26th Street.

Charles Tiffany, in 1882, decided to build a gigantic, multi-family home for the entire family. Land was purchased on the southwest corner of Madison Avenue and 72nd Street where other mansions were just beginning to rise. Although Charles apparently contacted the young architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, it was Louis who quickly took over the project.
Louis Comfort Tiffany -- laureltonhall.com

Tiffany and Stanford White knew each other well. Four years earlier Tiffany and artist/decorator Lockwood de Forest had formed Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists. Among the firm’s esteemed associates were Candace Wheeler, Samuel Colman and Stanford White.

Tiffany presented White with a preliminary sketch – a mammoth Romanesque structure with turrets and arches, balconies and gables. The house was to be, actually, three separate homes in one. Charles and Harriet were to have the first and second floors, the unmarried Louise would take up the third floor, and Louis would have the fourth and fifth floors.

Most likely because of Tiffany’s relationship with White, the firm allowed him to essentially take control. Charles Tiffany had nearly unlimited funds to make his son’s vision become reality. In no other commission would McKim, Mead & White so nearly completely relinquish the design of a building – at least in its basic size and appearance – to its client.

White was successful, however, in diluting the heaviness of Tiffany’s sketches by substituting beige, speckled brick for stone. The brick, formulated by White, was produced by the Perth Amboy Terra Cotta Company and became known as Tiffany brick. He additionally softened the heavy medieval feeling by adding triple Palladian windows to the south gables and including “Colonial” features.

Tiffany’s wife, Mary Woodbridge Goddard, died the year before the house was finished. The widowed artist would move into the mansion in 1885 with his two sons and two daughters.
A sketch of the house a year after completion appeared in Century Magazine -- NYPL Collection

When completed the monumental 57-room house dominated the nearly-empty neighborhood. An immense stone arch served as the entrance with an ornate metal fence-like gate that could be raised and lowered. Visitors pulling up in their carriages could step directly onto a stone “pulpit” without the inconvenience of stepping down to the pavement.

Charles Tiffany disliked his finished space and never lived in the new mansion, opting instead to stay in the house 30 blocks south.

Louis Tiffany’s colossal duplex included his studio – a soaring space 45-feet high, actually about three stories in height. The focal point of the magical room was a great, central fireplace with four openings, in the form of an art nouveau tree trunk. From the open rafters hung a hodgepodge of brasses, ironwork and decorative glassware; while palms and exotic plans appeared to sprout from the corners. Later, in 1902 a large Aeolian organ would be installed in a balcony here with a console case designed by Tiffany himself.
Tiffany's private studio on the top floor -- photo nyago.com

Associates Artists helped decorate the mansion. Intricate teakwood panels carved in India were imported by de Forest, who would later slather his own house on East 10th Street with similar carvings. The rooms were highly disparate – some nearly Spartan in their design; others dripping with art nouveau ornament.
Intricately carved teakwood entrance door were imported from India -- metmuseum.com

Henry Villard and his wife rented the apartments originally intended for the elder Tiffany and when Mrs. Villard hosted a meeting for the Riverside Rest Association, The New York Times reported it was held “in the parlors of Mrs. Henry Villard, in Tiffany the House.”

A year after moving in, Tiffany married Louise Wakeman Knox. The couple would add a son and three daughters to the large family.

Like Mrs. Villard, the new Mrs. Tiffany was active in charity work and, with the help of her husband, transformed his studio into a Japanese garden on November 8, 1889. In a fund raising effort for the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, a chrysanthemum show was staged. Terraces were constructed for the thousands of potted flowers – one of which was valued at $1,500 by its owner – and society women were clad in embroidered Japanese gowns.

Japanese lanterns hung from the ceiling, an orchestra played from behind rare hangings and flowers, and a brazier filled the studio with the aroma of Japanese scentsticks.

In 1907 John H. Matthews and his family were leasing the Villard apartments. On April 3 of that year, the Matthews’ daughter Eulalie was married in the drawing room “which was decorated with flowers and palms,” according to The Times.

After nearly a half century in the house, Louis Comfort Tiffany died here in 1933. Three years later the family sold the house to a developer and the unique mansion was demolished to make way for a modern apartment building; certainly one of the most lamentable losses in the city’s history.


  1. AnonymousAugust 16, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    NYC hasn't learned from its past mistakes. It's still destroying the treasures of our past; developers only care about how much money can be made. The irreplaceable is lost forever.

  2. AnonymousMarch 27, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    How sad....

  3. AnonymousMay 3, 2014 at 5:43 PM

    Some of the items from this house are in the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum in Winter Park. Go see it. You won't be disappointed. I houses the largest Louis Comfort Tiffany collection in the world.

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