Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion | Exhibition Catalogues — D Giles Limited louis comfort tiffany

Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion

Published by GILES in association with the Museum of Biblical Art, New York

Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion - Cover

Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion - Double page spread

Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion - Double page spread

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Published — (UK and USA)

Dimensions — 216 pages, 280 × 240 mm, (9½ x 11 in), portrait

Illustrations — 125 colour

tiffany harte">Format — Hardback

Price — UK£35.00 / US$55.00

ISBN — 978-1-907804-02-1

Press Release — “The subtle employment of colour”: Tiffany’s...

News  —  MoBiA’s Tiffany and the Art of Devotion is top...

            —  Tiffany and the Art of Devotion opens this week

Sales Points

"Serves as a revealing lens through which to view a crucial period in the history of religion in America" Ken Johnson, New York Times

"A Celestial Show From a Tiffany Window" Read the article by Eve M. Kahn in the New York Times

"A must-see for artistically and historically inclined New-Yorkers" Katelyn Hruby, New York Daily News

Focuses on Louis C. Tiffany and the Tiffany Studio's quest for beauty in creating a unique artistic repertoire for churches, chapels and synagogues

Features unpublished designs, cartoons, sketches and archival photographs, many the only surviving record of demolished buildings. 

About the Book

Louis Comfort Tiffany and the Art of Devotion focuses on the vast assortment of church decorations and memorials produced by Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933) and the Tiffany Studios. For over half a century, Tiffany oversaw the production and marketing of a multitude of decorative elements for many of America’s leading congregations— Protestant, Catholic and Jewish. He employed designers, draftsmen, and craftspeople to produce a complete interior design including mosaics, windows, floors, lighting, furniture, altarpieces, pulpits, candlesticks, headstones and mausolea, vestments and jewellery. Works in all media could be bought “off the shelf” or as special commissions designed for a particular patron.

This beautifully illustrated volume includes preliminary designs, cartoons, watercolour sketches and archival photographs of these windows, interiors and pieces of ecclesiastic furniture, many never published before. The authors consider the reasons for the success of the Tiffany Studios’ Ecclesiastical Department: Tiffany’s skilful advertising, the quality and variety of the Studios’ work and the boom in church building in the U.S. in the late 19th century. Tiffany promoted his designs to the public and potential clients through a variety of marketing techniques — showroom displays, sales catalogues, press releases, luxurious illustrated pamphlets, and installations made for national and international expositions. He was so successful that high-quality church and memorial designs became synonymous with the Tiffany Studios brand.

About the Author(s)

Elka Deitsch is the senior curator, Herbert & Eileen Bernard Museum of Judaica. Elizabeth De Rosa teaches at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Program with an interest in Art Nouveau and American and European art glass. She curated the exhibition Tiffany: Behind the Glass (2001) at The Neustadt Collection, New York, and is the co-curator of the forthcoming exhibition, Louis C. Tiffany, The Art of Devotion at MOBIA. Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen is Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator of American Decorative Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Winner of the Robert C. Smith Award of the Decorative Arts Society, she is the co-author of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Laurelton Hall: An Artist’s Country Estate (2006) and The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany (2005). Lindsy Parrott currently serves as the director/curator at The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass in New York. She is the co-author with Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen of Louis Comfort Tiffany: Nature by Design (2009). Patricia C. Pongracz is the director of curatorial affairs at MOBIA, and the co-author of Perspectives on Medieval Art: Learning through Looking (2010). Jennifer Perry Thalheimer is curator and collection manager at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. She co-curated the exhibition Louis Comfort Tiffany and Laurelton Hall: An Artist’s Country Estate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and coauthored the exhibition catalogue in 2006. Peter W. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Religion and American Studies, Department of Comparative Religion, Miami University, editor (with Charles H. Lippy) of Encyclopedia of Religion in America (2010) and author of America’s Religions: From the Origins to the Twenty-First Century (2001). Diane C. Wright is a senior fellow in the American Decorative Arts Department at the Yale University Art Gallery. Her research papers on the leaded-glass windows and mosaics of Tiffany Studios and on Frederick Wilson, head of the ecclesiastical department at Tiffany Studios, were published in the Journal of Glass Studies (2009).

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Louis Comfort Tiffany

1837 - 1933

Louis Comfort Tiffany was a Renaissance man during a period of history known as the Gilded Age. As an artist of many media and decorative arts, his lengthy career, from the 1870's to the mid-1920's, spanned and shaped several design periods during a time of "experimentation, intense scrutiny of aesthetic ideals, and proliferation of new styles in the world of art." Throughout his career, he forged a unique style that combined superb craftsmanship with a love of natural forms and brilliant color. His luminous glass designs combined technical innovations with the highest artistry infusing everyday objects with beauty inspired by nature.

Born in New York City, Louis Comfort Tiffany was the eldest son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, who had founded Tiffany & Co in 1837. Raised in an atmosphere of tremendous wealth and expensive taste, Tiffany was a natural aesthete, and opted against joining his father's company in favor of studying the fine arts.

Tiffany continued to paint, but he made his mark in the decorative arena. There was hardly a medium to which he did not turn, including furniture, metalwork, textiles, pottery, enamels, jewelry, and book design. He became interested in the decorative possibilities of glass in the late 1870s and employed it throughout his career.

Tiffany participated in the Aesthetic Movement, which conferred a new, higher status to the decorative arts. Like other members of the movement, he drew upon historical sources and was attracted to the arts of such exotic places as China, Japan, ancient Greece, Egypt, Venice, India, and the Islamic world. Tiffany likewise responded to the tenets of contemporary British reform movements, emulating the practices of British designer William Morris, and appreciated the fine craftsmanship championed by the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Tiffany's many travels to Europe and the Near East were influential in his choices as a glassmaker. He was especially inspired by Gothic stained glass windows, Persian glass, English cameo, the idea of imitating in glass natural stones such as agate, and the iridescence found in excavated ancient Syrian and Roman glass. Tiffany was critical of the contemporary practice of painting on glass, which he felt obscured the innate qualities of glass. He sought to maximize the potential of the medium itself, developing new methods resulting in iridescent finishes, lava glass, and his most important innovation, Favrile glass.

Favrile glass — a term Tiffany invented from the Latin fabrilis, meaning handmade — is produced by exposing molten glass to a series of vapors and metallic oxides that infuse it with radiant colors and iridescence. The name, as it applied to his own product, was trademarked in 1894. By this point, Tiffany had opened a new glass factory in Corona, Queens, and had begun marketing his Favrile windows, lamps, vases and mosaics in America and in Europe.

In 1878, Tiffany designed his first interior —for his own home in the Bella Apartments at 48 East Twenty-sixth Street, where he lived with his wife and three children. Hardly a surface was left plain: Oriental rugs were scattered across floors; Japanese patterned papers were affixed to walls and ceilings; carved and painted woodwork from India served as architectural embellishment for windows; colored and leaded glass filled window openings; and pictures and objects of various styles and media, including pottery, porcelain, and metalwork from China and Japan, were arranged throughout. Much of the furniture was remarkably simple, a foil for the proliferation of ornament.

Louis C. Tiffany and Associated Artists was founded in 1879, the first of several decorating partnerships. Tiffany joined forces with the American painter Samuel Colman, who suggested colors and patterns for walls and ceilings. Lockwood de Forest, an artist and collector of Indian artifacts, provided carved woodwork and furniture. Candace Wheeler created textiles and embroidery to Tiffany's designs. Tiffany, who specialized in glass, remained in charge of the overall design process. The firm enjoyed great success, counting among its clients such prominent figures as President Chester Arthur, pharmaceuticals millionaire George Kemp, elder statesman Hamilton Fish, president of the Metropolitan Museum John Taylor Johnston, author Mark Twain, and the Veterans of New York's Seventh Regiment Armory.

After 1883 Tiffany worked primarily on his own. In 1885 he completed work on his second home, in a massive McKim, Mead, and White-designed Romanesque revival building at Seventy-Second Street and Madison Avenue commissioned by his father. Tiffany's top floor studio was perhaps the most startling room. With its theatrical and cave-like appearance, unique four-sided central fireplace, and forest of glass lanterns of various shapes and colors suspended from the ceiling, it was described as "a dream: Arabian Nights in New York."

Tiffany continued to work on residential, public, and ecclesiastical interiors to a far greater extent than many have assumed. One of the most remarkable commissions was for the home of two of his most important patrons, Louisine and Henry Osborne Havemeyer. Their house at 1 East Sixty-Sixth Street, completed in 1892, was replete with glowing iridescent glass-mosaic walls, lighting fixtures of Near Eastern derivation, elaborate filigreed balustrades and fireplace screens, and a dramatic suspended staircase. Tiffany was responsible for every decorative element, enhancing the unified effect. His artisans and designers mastered the techniques needed to produce and decorate objects in metal, wood, glass, fabric, and wallpaper and became manufacturers of rugs, glass mosaics, lighting fixtures, and ornamental cast bronzes.

Tiffany's creativity peaked as Art Nouveau burst on the scene in Europe in the mid-1890s. The primary proponent of Art Nouveau in America, Tiffany's work exemplified the movement's aims to develop a new aesthetic based in nature. While the French and Belgian Art Nouveau artists abstracted nature into sinuous curves, and the Viennese and Scottish experimented with geometric abstraction, Tiffany sought to depict the colors and forms of nature in a more straightforward, impressionistic manner. His lily lamps follow nature's logic, with petals and leaves on the shade and stems, and stalks on the base, while his "Agate" and "Lava" glass vases closely approximate the appearance of other natural materials. Far from resulting in a simplified version of Art Nouveau themes, however, Tiffany's glass is invariably complex in composition and appearance. What began as formal interpretations of nature grew into a love of lush naturalism, and as his artistic career progressed, he became increasingly preoccupied by illusionistic depictions of landscapes and flowers. His was not an intellectual approach to art; rather it was a sensory one, providing feasts of color, light, and texture.

Post-Civil War prosperity produced patrons who were not merely rich but also cultured and who shared an aptitude for experimentation. They were poised for Tiffany, who coupled his artistic ambitions with a unique marketing ability that enabled him to publicize his wares to an extent formerly unknown in America. Tiffany utilized the great international fairs of the late nineteenth century as promotional vehicles for his artistic work. He first exhibited his oil paintings at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia and later at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. It was the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago, however, that was a watershed event in Tiffany's career. Over a million people visited his exhibit, which was the subject of numerous accounts in the press and the catalyst for many new commissions. During that period the Parisian dealer Siegfried Bing saw Tiffany's work, and his assessment of it led to his sponsorship of Tiffany in Paris and throughout Europe. Tiffany continued to make strong showings and receive awards at international fairs, notably Paris in 1900, Buffalo in 1901, Turin in 1902, and St. Louis in 1904. As a result, his work was widely known and acclaimed throughout America and around the world.

Early institutional collectors of Tiffany glass included the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, Tokyo's Imperial Museum, and many other museums around the world. His stained glass windows can still be found in many of America's oldest colleges and universities, among them Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, Vassar and Wellesley, as well as the Smithsonian and the Chicago Art Institute.

While Tiffany Studios primarily manufactured glass for lamps, vases and windows, it also produced objects in copper and bronze collectively called "Fancy Goods" in his catalogues. Also inspired by nature, his metalwork designs were used for candelabras, desk sets, picture frames, and other objects, and often incorporated glass elements. When Tiffany took over as vice president and artistic director of Tiffany & Co. after his father's death in 1902, Tiffany Studios also began producing jewelry, primarily using semiprecious stones and enamels, and retaining the Studios' primary motifs of plants and insects.

An autocratic perfectionist, Tiffany was known to walk down the production lines with his cane and strike any piece that he found unacceptable. And yet, he always had an eye on the bottom line and would cease production of any item that went unsold for one year.

Shortly after the First World War, tastes shifted dramatically away from Art Nouveau and toward the sparer Bauhaus aesthetic. With the concomitant loss of revenue, as well as the decline in fortune due to Tiffany's lifestyle and his Foundation, Tiffany Studios declared bankruptcy in 1932. Louis Comfort Tiffany died on January 17, 1933 in New York, in relative obscurity. It was not until the late 1950's that scholars and collectors began rediscovering Tiffany's work, and jumpstarted the process of resurrecting his reputation as an artist, innovator, and pioneer of modernism as he is now known today.


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"PARAKEETS and GOLD FISH BOWL", c. 1893 Louis Comfort Tiffany, (1848-1933)

Parakeets and Gold Fish Bowl, 1893

"PARAKEETS and GOLD FISH BOWL", c. 1893 Louis Comfort Tiffany, (1848-1933)

Autumn Landscape; Designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany  (American, New York City 1848–1933 New York City)

Autumn Landscape; Designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany (American, New York City 1848–1933 New York City)

Louis Comfort Tiffany's A View of Oyster Bay
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The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany

The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany

Louis Comfort Tiffany, River of Life window, early 20th Century, leaded glass More

Louis Comfort Tiffany, River of Life window, early 20th Century, leaded glass More

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). Vase. 1915. Favrile glass. Musée d'Orsay - Paris - France

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). Vase. 1915. Favrile glass. Musée d'Orsay - Paris - France

Louis Comfort Tiffany — Detail of Apple Blossom and Magnolia Bloom by Remedy from the norm, via Flickr

Louis Comfort Tiffany — Detail of Apple Blossom and Magnolia Bloom by Remedy from the norm, via Flickr

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1906 Tiffany Pond Lily lamp, one of eight left in the world, most are in museums or private collections.

1906 Tiffany Pond Lily lamp, one of eight left in the world, most are in museums or private collections.

Louis Tiffany: The Epitome of Beautiful Windows and Lamps | The Quark In The Road

Louis Tiffany: The Epitome of Beautiful Windows and Lamps | The Quark In The Road

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848—1933) was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements. Tiffany designed stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry enamels and metalwork.

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848—1933) was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements. Tiffany designed stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry enamels and metalwork.

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