Tiffany Stained Glass Windows

“God has given us our talents, not to copy the talents of others, but rather to use our brains and imagination in order to obtain the revelation of true beauty.”
—Louis C. Tiffany (1848–1933)

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“Grapevine Panels” by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Happy birthday to Louis Comfort Tiffany, born on this date, the 18th of February. It was also the date in 1902 that his father, Charles Lewis Tiffany died. Mr. Tiffany, the elder, founded Tiffany & Co.; his son founded Tiffany Studios, which brought him fame and fortune in the field of decorative arts and interior decoration, especially stained glass in lamps and windows.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“Grapevine Panels” by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Here we look at two stained glass designs from the Tiffany Studios.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“Grapevine Panels,” detail, by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

First we look at a set of stained glass panels designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany between 1902 and 1915. They can be seen at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Fifth Avenue location in Gallery 701 of the American Wing. Grapevine Panels were a gift to The Met from Ruth and Frank Stanton in 1978. Mr. Stanton was a pioneering television executive; he served as president of CBS from 1947 to 1971.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“Grapevine Panels,” detail, by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Entwining themselves around a trellis, plump grapes and slender vines give these two window panels their title. Blue, purple, and even pink can be seen mixed with a wide range of greens within the leaves.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“Grapevine Panels,” detail, by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The slim vines, some made of lead, others of glass, twist themselves around the trellis, while the rounded grapes, raised from the surface as they are, give the illusion of reality. The leading varies in thickness, another trademark feature of Tiffany windows; but the uniform leading serves as the solid form of the trellis. Whereas the leading that makes up the grapevines is delicate and flows through the image.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“Grapevine Panels,” detail, by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The second stained glass window is View of Oyster Bay, created in 1908 for the Manhattan townhouse of William C. Skinner (1857–1947), whose family owned silk mills in Holyoke, Massachusetts, which were the leading supplier of silk throughout the United States.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“View of Oyster Bay” by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Called View of Oyster Bay because the scene looks like the view from the north shore of Long Island, New York, where Tiffany had built his estate, Laurelton Hall between 1902 and 1905. Laurelton Hall was destroyed by fire in 1957. Supposedly the scene was based upon the view from Mr. Skinner’s family estate in Holyoke, Massachusetts, called Wistariahurst, because of its abundant wisteria vines around the house. However, the view is remarkably similar to what Mr. Tiffany would have looked out on from his own home in Laurel Hollow across Oyster Bay.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“View of Oyster Bay,” detail, by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 2008, the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Florida lent View of Oyster Bay to The Met in memory of Charles Hosmer Morse. The stained glass panel is displayed in the American Wing. View of Oyster Bay shows the viewer a scene through a trellis, which is lush with deeply-colored wisteria vines, and the calm bay, dappled with sunlight, and a glorious sky beyond. The vines are weighted with magnificent blue and white blossoms, and the leaves vary with greens and yellows.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“View of Oyster Bay,” detail, by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Structurally necessary to hold the window together the black metal serves as the trellis for the vines. The asymmetrical composition helps the viewer believe the illusion of Mother Nature.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“View of Oyster Bay,” detail, by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The water of the bay makes up most of the lower part of the view. The light-blue glass becomes almost white in spots; this creates the illusion of movement on the water and the effects of sunlight on it. Purple-colored glass, in both dark and lighter hues, is used for the hills. For the darkening sky gradated red glass, variegated and, suggests a on the horizon behind the wisteria, while glass of the lightest purple-rose represents the fleeting sunlight at the furthest reaches beyond the hills.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“View of Oyster Bay,” detail, by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Shortly after the Civil War Louis Comfort Tiffany began his career as a painter. He quickly turned to interior design. America’s economy was booming in the last quarter of the 19th century. He was called upon to decorate the homes of some of the country’s most prominent families: the H. O. Havemeyers and the Hamilton Fishes, both in New York City, and Mark Twain in Hartford, Connecticut. His public commissions were not less prominent; he decorated Chester Arthur’s White House and the newly-built Veterans’ Room at the Seventh Regiment Armory on New York City’s Park Avenue. By the 1880s the Tiffany Glass Company was the largest producer of stained-glass windows in the nation.

Tiffany Studios, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stained Glass, American Wing, Favrile Glass, Tiffany’s, Tiffany & Co.

“View of Oyster Bay,” detail, by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Read our other articles about artworks by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Tiffany Lamps for a Tiffany Birthday
Tiffany’s Stained Glass “Autumn”

“View of Oyster Bay,” detail, by Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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