History of Louis Comfort Tiffany Lamps & Tiffany windows


"Louis Comfort Tiffany (February 18, 1848 – January 17, 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[1] and Aesthetic movements. He was affiliated with a prestigious collaborative of designers known as the Associated Artists, which included Lockwood de Forest, Candace Wheeler, and Samuel Colman. Tiffany designed stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, enamels, and metalwork.[2] He was the first Design Director at his family company, Tiffany and co., founded by his father Charles Lewis Tiffany.

     Tiffany started out as a painter, but became interested in glassmaking from about 1875 and worked at several glasshouses in Brooklyn between then and 1878. In 1879 he joined with Candace Wheeler, Samuel Colman, and Lockwood de Forest to form Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists. The business was short-lived, lasting only four years. The group made designs for wallpaper, furniture, and textiles." -Source:Wikipedia

     "By late 1892 or early 1893, Tiffany built a glasshouse in Corona, Queens, New York, and, with Arthur Nash, a skilled glassworker from  Stourbridge, England, his furnaces developed a method whereby different  colors were blended together in the molten state, achieving subtle  effects of shading and texture. Recalling the Old English word fabrile  (hand-wrought), Tiffany named the blown glass from his furnaces  Favrile, a trademark that signified glass of hand-made and unique  quality. In 1896, the Museum received fifty-six blown vases and roundels  from H. O. Havemeyer, one of the first collectors of Favrile glass (


  . . . . (One of Tiffany's) new techniques produced glass that resembled Lava or “volcanic” glass (51.121.13),  with broad areas of gold luster meant to mimic hot molten rock spilling  from the mouth of a volcano. The rough, black areas were made by  introducing bits of basalt or talc into the molten glass formed into  vases in organic, irregular shapes.

     Of all of Tiffany’s artistic endeavors, leaded-glass brought him the greatest recognition. Tiffany and his early rival, John La Farge,  revolutionized the look of stained glass, which had remained essentially  unchanged since medieval times when craftsmen utilized flat panes of  white and colored glass with details painted with glass paints before  firing and leading. 

     Tiffany and La Farge experimented with new types of  glass and achieved a more varied palette with richer hues and greater  density. By 1881, each had patented an opalescent glass, a unique  American phenomenon that featured a milky, opaque, and sometimes  rainbow-hued appearance with the introduction of light. Internally colored with variegated shades of the same or different hues, Tiffany’s  Favrile glass enabled craftsmen to substitute random tonal gradations,  lines, textures, and densities inherent in the material itself for  pictorial details. Magnolias and Irises (

1981.159),  executed by Tiffany Studios around 1908, was designed as a memorial  window based on a well-known motif—the River of Life. It depicts  magnolias composed of opalescent drapery glass, heavily folded or  creased glass, and iris in multihued tones illustrating Tiffany’s  ability to “paint” with glass.

     Growing out of an interest in interior decorating, Tiffany and his  studios turned toward another venture in 1898—lighting and lamps.  Although Tiffany’s craftsmen used patterns to make lampshades, each was  unique due to the selection of the individual pieces of glass with their  varied colors and densities. A water lily lamp (

1974.214.15a, b),  with its organic bronze support composed of lily pads, is crowned by a  shade featuring pink opalescent stems that terminate in creamy water  lily blossoms against a background of rippled blue glass, evocative of a bog where water lilies dwell.

     Mosaics were also a natural progression and extension of Tiffany’s  work in Favrile and leaded glass. Glass mosaics were used in interior  settings, initially for church interiors and fireplace surrounds, but then developed tiffany windows into full artistic works. 

     Inspired by Byzantine churches  Tiffany surveyed on his European travels that used flat, solid-color squares, or tesserae, he improved upon the tradition by incorporating  innovative techniques of modeling and shading to produce a wide range of  colors within glass. Glass was also cut into different shapes to enhance pictorial qualities."



Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen

The American Wing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Monica Obniski

The American Wing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

July 2007