|Tiffany on 5th Avenue|
|Tiffany glass in Metropolitan Museum|
When Charles Lewis Tiffany died at age 90, Tiffany & Co. was worth $ 2.4 million. After his death his son, Louis Comfort Tiffany took the position of vice president and artistic director of Tiffany & Co.
Originally trained as a painter, Charles began studying the chemistry and techniques of glassmaking when he was 24. In his early days Charles worked as interior designer. His commissions for Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt and the White House under President Arthur earned him an international reputation and great success. Stained-glass windows were a feature in these interiors.
|Tiffany in Metropolitan museum|
In 1865, Tiffany traveled to Europe, and in London he visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, whose extensive collection of Roman and Syrian glass made a deep impression on him. Later he wrote: "Rich tones are due in part to the use of pot metal full of impurities, and in part to the uneven thickness of the glass, but still more because the glass maker of that day abstained from the use of paint".
Charles Tiffany registered a patent for opalescent window glass, where several colors were combined and manipulated to create three-dimensional effects. Unlike stained glass artists of his time, Tiffany mixed the colors into his glass rather than painting them onto it. For every color needed, for every leaf or blade of grass, a new formula was found that provided the required shade.
Those formulas were a closely kept secret in the Tiffany shops. In 1885, Tiffany established his own firm. The artist built his own factory in Corona, Queens in 1892 where he experimented with colors, made high volumes of glass and designed windows and lamps.
Tiffany used the word Favrile (from the old French word for handmade) as a general trademark for his glass—and later for his pottery and metalwork. Favrile and “fabricate” have the same root, and Tiffany applied the name to his glass to suggest its handmade quality.
Charles Tiffany wrote: "Favrile glass is distinguished by brilliant or deeply toned colors, usually iridescent like the wings of certain American butterflies, the necks of pigeons and peacocks, the wing covers of various beetles."
Tiffany lamps are known all over the world.
The first Tiffany lamp was created around 1895. Each lamp was handmade by skilled craftsmen. Its designer was not, as had been thought for over 100 years, Louis Comfort Tiffany, but a previously unrecognized artist named Clara Driscoll who was identified in 2007 by Rutgers professor Martin Eidelberg.
Today, original Tiffany Stained Glass Lamps now easily bring $30,000 to $40,000 each when one occasionally comes on the market. Christie's Auction House has sold an original lamp for $2.8 mill. The highest price paid for an original stained glass window at a Christie's Auction was $1.9 mill in 2000.
Several companies mimicked the Tiffany lamp style in the 1920s with cheaper, lesser quality models. In the past 30 to 40 years, forgeries have hit the market that can fool collectors and experts alike.
In the beginning of the 20th century Tiffany built a house in Long Island few miles from the Oyster Bay. The 84-room magnificent mansion on 600 acres of land was designed in the Art Nouveau style.
|Oyster Bay view|
The house served as home for a school for artists run by Tiffany and his Foundation beginning in 1918. There was Tiffany Chapel originally made for the 1893 Columbian Exposition and a separate art gallery building near the mansion. In 1918 Tiffany established a foundation to maintain the estate in perpetuity as a house museum and an artist’s colony.
Tiffany died in 1933. By 1946, financial reversals prompted the selling of the building’s contents at auction. The home itself was eventually sold and the property sub-divided. In 1957, a devastating fire gutted the long-abandoned house.
|Loggia from destroyed Tiffany House in Metropolitan museum|
Fortunately many beautiful objects survived . The largest group—including artwork, windows, furnishings, and ornaments were bought by early admirers of Tiffany Hugh and Jeannette McKean. Jeannette founded Morse Museum (named after her grandfather, Chicago industrialist) in Florida, Winter Park to show her collection of Tiffany Glass.
In 1978 the McKeans gave the Metropolitan museum of art Tiffany porch, Laurelton Hall’s entrance loggia, which is on permanent view in the Engelhard Court in the museum’s American Wing.
An excellent collection of Tiffany in Met museum includes Wisteria window, Autumn Landscape, and the dogwood window. It also has several lamps, vases, and - possibly surprising to some people - furniture, mosaics, boxes, and other items. The four-columned loggia that currently graces The Charles Engelhard Court of the Museum's American Wing was originally installed on the south side of Laurelton Hall.
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