Above Image: Tiffany Gallery at Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows at Navy Pier, Chicago
The name of Louis Comfort Tiffany is associated with many arts like mosaics, ceramics, vases, enamels, jewelry and stained glass. Of these, his most celebrated artistic endeavor was stained glass, and it brought him the greatest recognition.
From late 1970s, John Lafarge [1835-1910] and Louis Comfort Tiffany [1848-1933] , contemporaries and bitter rivals, introduced innovative methods stained glass production, which revolutionized the art. Before their innovations, the craft of glass making was unchanged since medieval times when flat panes of glass were painted, using brush. Lafarge and Tiffany, working independently, experimented with new techniques of producing stained glass. Rather than painting on glass, they believed in painting with glass. They introduced an entire gamut of new colors and textures, and completely changed the look of the medium.
In this post we concentrate on the new methods and innovations brought about by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The underlying theme is highlighting Tiffany’s method of painting with glass, rather than painting on glass, and the new types of glass-making he introduced, which revolutionized the art of stained glass windows.
GLASS TYPES introduced by Tiffany:
Traditional stained glass, relied heavily on painting on the glass. Tiffany believed in painting with glass, rather than painting on glass. He introduced many types of glass that produced various colors and textures, to replace the use of paint on glass [he did not completely eliminate painting, which was especially used to make details of faces and hands].
OPALESCENT GLASS: A milky glass with streaky colors and iridescent sheen. Opalescent stained glass is generally translucent, but often almost opaque. It is created by suspension of particles that spread and scatter light within its surface, rather than allowing the light rays to pass directly through it.
John LaFarge was the first designer to incorporate opalescent glass into a window and received a patent for his new product on February 24, 1880. Tiffany received several patents for variations of the same opalescent process in November of the same year. This was also a cause of bitter competition and animosity between the two artists.
By 1881 each artist had patented an opalescent glass, which has a milky, opaque, and sometimes rainbow-hued appearance when light shines through it. It was a uniquely American phenomenon that proved to be among the most important advances in decorative windows since the Middle Ages. [– Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum. 1998 catalog]
DRAPERY GLASS: To produce the effect of garments he used drapery glass by pouring, gathering, twisting, pulling, and folding glass to simulate garment folds.. Although Tiffany disliked painting, he did not completely eliminate painting, which was used to details of faces and hands.
MOTTED GLASS: Colored glass which is opaque in some areas and translucent in others. One to three colors may be incorporated in a single sheet.
RIPPLE GLASS: Texturizing effect achieved by operating top and bottom flattening rollers at different speeds.
CONFETTI GLASS: Chips of multi-colored glass added during the blowing process and hand-rolled to create a distinctive speckled appearance.
JEWELED GLASS: Use of jewels and chunk glass was also very common. Tiffany introduced a style of glass called “Turtle Backs”.
PLATING and USE of CAMING TECHNIQUE
The above image is a brilliant example of use of Plating, and innovative caming technique, to create the depth of field, as explained below..
PLATING: Rather than earlier stained glass which were two-dimensional, Tiffany produced stained glass, which wee three dimensional in effect. He perfected a technique called plating. He used different layers of glass of different colors and densities, in reverse order, to produce depth and three dimensional effect.
INNOVATIVE LEADING TECHNIQUES: Tiffany also made significant advances in techniques of leading. Traditionally the lead rods, that held the glass pieces together [knows as cames] were not an integral part of design. As such, they were of uniform thickness and arbitrarily bisected the window designs. Tiffany integrated cames as a part of the design, and used cames of different width to confirm with the different elements of the design. He also popularized the use of copper foils for delicate details, like organic lines of flowers and foliage.
Here we see use of plating and caming technique to create depth of field. It’s a brilliant example of the three-dimensional effect created on a two-dimensional stained glass window.
Here we can see the Motted Glass is used to create the effect of sunlight filtering through the leaves of the trees. The plating gives a sense of the depth of field. The mountains look far away from the foreground. Striations in glass creates a feel of movement in water.
The beautiful waterfall, created with the use of folded or Drapery Glass. Opalescent glass used to make beautiful flowers, and plating again separates waterfall in the foreground from the mountains far away in the background.
WOMEN in TIFFANY STUDIO
Note: the above three landscape windows are by Agnes F. Northrop, which brings me to another point. Tiffany Studio was very progressive in the advancement of women. They employed women in making of windows, mosaics, enamels, and jewelleries. Few achieved designer status, like Clara Wolcott Driscoll and Agnes F. Northrop. Northrop was the principal designer of floral stained glass windows.
TIFFANY: LANDSCAPES and FIGURALS / SECULAR and RELIGIOUS themes
In the late 19th century, stained glass windows were usually made for the House of Worship or as memorial windows. The majority of Tiffany’s windows were also designed for the houses of worship. Although Tiffany designed figure windows on Biblical themes, he soon integrated floral and landscape subjects in his designs. As such, he departure from the traditional Gothic setting from Biblical scenes. He believed that landscapes drew inspiration from the Creator. The popularizing of landscape theme, was another major departure that Tiffany brought into the art of stained glass windows.
He stressed the deeply religious symbolism of landscapes. Like Iris was used to symbolize Virgin Mary. Passionflower represented Crucifixion of Christ. Poppies and Lilies represented Resurrection. He often depicted clumps of flowers next to pool of water. Running water symbolized the passage of life of the deceased.
Many of Tiffany stained glass windows combine figural with landscapes.
PAINTING with GLASS:
Although Tiffany preferred painting with glass, not painting on glass, he did not completely eliminate painting. which was especially used to make details of faces and hands.
Here we see the figural combined with landscape. It shows high level of symbolism combined with technical proficiency. The prominent use of white indicate that the window was fabricated as a memorial for a church or a mausoleum. Lilies have been used to represent resurrection of a soul. From technical point of view, we see use of drapery glass in the garments. Plating of different colors of glass has been used to add depth of field. Lead Cames and copper foils are integral to the design. Opalescent glass bring out delicate flowers.
Drapery Glass, Motted Glass, Plating, Enameled and Opalescent Glass, Copper foils and Lead cames. I bet you get it!
Pair of Medievalized Windows – by Tiffany and Associated Artists
For more, click here..
All the above images were from the Tiffany galleries at the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, at Navy Pier. For the entire collection at Tiffany Galleries,click here..
Below are images from the Driehaus Museum of Tiffany Windows, also at Navy Pier. For the entire collection at Driehaus Gallery, click here..
Guiding Angle – by Tiffany Studio:
Use of Drapery, Enameled, Motted, Opalescent and Ripple Glass. Copper foil and Lead cames.
Although Tiffany preferred looking to nature for inspiration, most of his clients preferred a more traditional, figural approach to the memorial window. Tiffany’s composition uses a dramatic sweep of the angel’s wings in contrast to the expectant figure preparing to be guided to heaven.
Girl with Cherry Blossom – by Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company
Use of Confetti, Drapery, Enameled and Opalescent Glass..
Tiffany Galleries at Smith Museum [complete list].. click here..
Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows.. click here..
Driehaus Gallery [complete list] .. click here..
Macy’s Pedway [complete list].. click here..