Christine holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Music and continues to apply her voice to all genres of music. An arts lover since childhood, she currently works as a freelance writer.
Well by Fence window, design attrib. to Agnes Northrop (1857–1953),
Tiffany Studios, New York, ca. 1910.
The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, New York N86.W.9
Rarely has there been an American artist as innovative and creative as Louis Comfort Tiffany. Son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of the renowned jewelry and silver firm, Tiffany (1848-1933) chose to chart his own artistic path rather than settle into the family business.
Tiffany’s career spanned from the 1870s through the 1920s, embracing virtually every artistic and decorative medium: painting, interiors, lighting, metalwork, pottery, enamels, jewelry, glass and mosaics.
Of all his artistic endeavors, though, it is his work with stained glass — especially lamps — that has earned him the greatest recognition. Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library is celebrating that legacy with the dazzling display “Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light” which runs through January 3, 2016.
The exhibit features items from the collection of Egon and Hildergard Neustadt, who began acquiring the works in 1935 following the death of Tiffany and the demise of his studios in Corona, Queens, New York.
Tiffany began his artistic career as a painter but by 1875 had developed an interest in glassmaking. His constant drive to innovate led to the development of a new technique for making stained glass which had remained essentially unchanged since medieval times, when artisans applied paint to clear glass before firing and leading. Tiffany created and patented a radical new process called opalescent glass, in which several colors are combined and manipulated to produce a rainbow-range of hues and three-dimensional effects.
The windows — Tropical Landscape (ca. 1910), Well by Fence (ca. 1910) and Grape Vine and Lemon Trellis — which greet visitors to the exhibit, are breathtaking examples of Tiffany’s ability to “paint” with glass.
Tiffany looked to nature as the primary source of design inspiration. Nowhere is Tiffany’s mastery for translating nature into glass more apparent than in his iconic lamps. We see them in pictures and on television but only deliberative observation can reveal the complexity of the shapes of the blossoms and the unruly growth patterns of the flowers as well as the nuances of color and texture.
Lampshades of all shapes and sizes are adorned with profusions of peonies, pond lilies, poppies, poinsettias, dragonfly and wisteria.
Supplementing the exhibit is an educational display showing the painstaking and labor-intensive process that goes into making a Tiffany lampshade as well as sheets of original Tiffany glass.
The exhibit also recognizes key figures who worked at the Tiffany Studios and their contributions: chemist Arthur J. Nash (1849-1934) and leading designers Agnes Northrop (1857-1953), Clara Driscoll (1861-1944) and Frederick Wilson (1858-1932).
There is also a primer on forgery with three fakes on display and tips on how to spot the imposters.
A secondary exhibit, “Tiffany: The Color of Luxury,” offers a fun look at the iconic retail operation. It features one of Tiffany’s own paintings as well as fine stationery, silver wedding gifts, diamond engagement rings and brooches. There’s even a silver telephone dialer and — of course, the “Tiffany Blue Box”— the most recognized and desirable retail container in history.