LOUIS COMFORT TIFFANY
Feb 18 1848 – Jan 17 1933
“One of the most creative and prolific designers of the late 19th century, Louis Comfort Tiffany, declared that his life-long goal was the pursuit of beauty”
Louis Comfort Tiffany’s career spanned from the 1870’s on into the 1920’s. He became one of America’s most celebrated artists. Tiffany became the artist most associated with the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements. He partook in nearly every artistic and decorative medium possible, designing and directing his studios to produce stained glass, mosaics, glass, lighting, metalwork, pottery, jewellery, enamels and interiors. Tiffany was part of a esteemed collaborative of designers known as the Associated Artists. “A decorating partnership with painter Samuel Coleman, textile designer Candace Wheeler, and woodcarver and collector Lockwood de Forest. The Park Avenue Armory in New York still holds one of his decorating collaborations. The Veteran’s Room or “Tiffany Room” as it’s referred to, retains the original silver leaf patterned ceiling, ornamental woodwork, lighting fixtures, stained glass, and peacock blue glass tile fireplace. Stanford White contributed the architectural elements in the room, including the built-in furniture and the fireplace wall. The room incorporates Greek, Persian, Japanese, Moorish, Celtic and Egyptian styles. A little worse for the wear, The Veteran’s Room is still used for lectures and events.” Tiffany Interiors
President Chester Arthur (aka Elegant Arthur) decided to hire New York artist and decorator Louis Comfort Tiffany to redecorate the State apartments in the White House in 1882.
Louis Comfort Tiffany himself described some of the work done to the White House:
“At that time we decorated the Blue Room, the East Room, the Red Room and the Hall between the Red and East Rooms, together with the glass screen contained therein. The Blue Room, or Robin’s Egg Room — as it is sometimes called — was decorated in robin’s egg blue for the main color, with ornaments in a hand-pressed paper, touched out in ivory, gradually deepening as the ceiling was approached.
In the East Room, we only did the ceiling, which was done in silver, with a design in various tones of ivory. In the Red Room, the walls were red with a frieze in which the motif was an interlacing of a design embodying both eagles and flags. The ceiling was in old gold. The opalescent glass screen in the hall, which reached from the floor to the ceiling, had also a motif of eagles and flags, interlaced in the Arabian method.”
The White House Entrance Hall
Louis Comfort Tiffany’s conviction that nature should be the primary source of design inspiration became the basis for his design aesthetic. He sometimes had difficulty working with churches as they were wanting more traditional religious figures in their stained glass and Tiffany found it hard to draw himself away from nature inspired landscapes.
Pastoral window at Second Presbyterian Church (Chicago, Illinois)
This aesthetic can be seen in all its glory in some of his greatest works.
He established Tiffany Studios where 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.
Louis Comfort Tiffany began producing his favrile glass (favrile meaning hand made) in 1885 under the company name Tiffany Glass Company. Tiffany was among the first American designers to be acclaimed abroad with Favrile glass shown at world fairs and sold in galleries like Siegfried Bing’s L’Art Nouveau, which was a conduit for the most innovative design at the turn of the century.
Tiffany was one artist who over time, extensively fell victim to the vagaries of taste, fortune and circumstance. A lot of Tiffany’s largest and most intricate works were lost to fire and demolition. Lost works of Tiffany
An activist and philanthropist later in life, Tiffany retired from his career as a glass-maker and business owner in 1919.
I have truly enjoyed researching Louis Comfort Tiffany and feel that I have found a soul mate in the design industry as I am an activist and philanthropist at heart. I have an affinity with nature (astronomy in particular) and would love to bring this inspiration to all my designs, creating a signature design aesthetic across a myriad of mediums.
It’s devastating to know how undervalued Louis Comfort Tiffany’s works were in his time and just how much was lost! But I am feeling very energised and inspired by what is left to see!