Monday, February 21, 2011

History of Louis C. Tiffany and The Tiffany Lamp

By Nicole Maddox

The last part of the 19th century was a period of time when an artistic movement took place, where decorative arts were integrated and included in architecture, and classic arts such as painting and sculpting.
Louis Comfort Tiffany grew-up during this time and was heavily influenced by this movement. He started his career in painting, studying art in Paris then traveling to Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt where these cultures ultimately had a prevalent affect on Tiffany’s artwork. Louis C. Tiffany exhibited his work regularly and owned an art studio in New York City. His interests also included architecture and decor, but Tiffany solidified himself as an artist after joining many New York art organizations and being elected to the Century Club, a cultural Center in New York City. At 22 years old, Louis C. Tiffany was the youngest elected member and he remained a member until his death in 1933. This club included many influential people, including the 21st President of the United States, Chester Arthur, who commissioned Tiffany to redecorate the White House while he was in office.
Becoming more skilled at water color than he was at oil painting, Tiffany began exhibiting his water color art and receiving attention for it. As a member of the National Academy of Design along with the development of a passion for interior decorating, Louis Comfort Tiffany began to participate New York’s Society of Decorative Art. This committee and additional interests lead Tiffany down a separate path from the painter he had always intended to be, despite the fact that he had been exposed to this sort of art his whole life; being the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, who owned a successful business selling luxury items and decorative art objects under the name Tiffany & Co. Tiffany & Co. is still known today for their fine goods and exquisite silver jewelry.
Although Louis C. Tiffany separated himself from his father’s business by becoming an established painter, he benefitted from the business relationships and ties his father established, as well as the financial support needed for him to pursue new endeavors. 
Eventually turning his interests to glass work and design, Tiffany began to experiment and Tiffany & Co. in New York began to sell and display Louis C. Tiffany’s glass vases, which helped his work gain notoriety. Overall, this work ended up contributing much recognition to the family name as well.
As Louis C. Tiffany began experimenting with glass making, he also was heavily commissioned as an interior designer. Many of his designs included leaded glass windows and glass tiles that gained much attention. 
As popularity in mural painting grew, along with stained glass windows, Tiffany began to focus on the creation of large pictorial windows and glass murals. His artistic training allowed Tiffany to appreciate the color balance, textures and the different effects of light that are associated with glass art.
Tiffany established his own glass production shop in late 1892 and as the popularity of his glass work grew, Tiffany hired skilled craftsmen to create glass pieces, encouraging them to experiment with color and techniques, including glass blowing, layering glass and carrying out chemical experiments with the glass creations. 
In 1900, Tiffany decided to launch a commercial line featuring lamps based on the knowledge and expertise that he and his staff of artisans had gained from window design and creation.
These lamps are coveted pieces of art today, and an original Tiffany Lamp is a rare and valuable find. Few companies still employ the original techniques developed by Louis Comfort Tiffany when creating Tiffany-Style Lamps, however, you can find original and quality reproduction Tiffany Lamps made by skilled artisans in the United States by visiting
Sources: The Montreal Museum Of Fine Arts and Skira Rizzoli New York. Tiffany Glass - A Passion For Colour. Printed in Italy by Geca, 2009.

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