Painting with Glass
Wisteria Library Lamp, circa 1901, Tiffany Studios (1902–1932), Clara Driscoll (1861-1944), designer, United States (New York), leaded glass and bronze, The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, NY, N.86.IU.7a,b
Photography provided the Cincinnati Art Museum
The Cincinnati Art Museum is hosting an exquisite exhibition, “Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light,” that focuses on the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios.
“I’m really thrilled that we can bring these works of art to the museum,” says Amy Dehan, curator of decorative arts and design at the museum. “They hail from one of the best collections in the country.”
The exhibition, which opens April 1 and continues through August 13, includes five windows, 20 leaded glass lampshades and 100 examples of the flat glass and jewels that Tiffany and his artists used to create these pieces.
Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) was the son of Charles Tiffany, who started Tiffany & Co. Instead of joining the family business, the young Tiffany studied to be a painter. Later, he became intrigued with using glass as the medium for his creativity.
Tiffany’s work with glass was revolutionary. Rather than painting on glass, which was popular with the stained-glass pieces from the Medieval and Renaissance periods, Tiffany was more interested in painting with glass.
“In order to create the painterly effects he desired to produce in his shades and glass windows, Tiffany developed new types of glass and new ways of working with that glass to achieve his goal,” Dehan says. “His approach was revolutionary for the time period.”
Included in the exhibition are educational models, set up to demonstrate the different stages of a lampshade in process. Tools are displayed, as well as examples of flat glass.
“Different types of glass developed by Tiffany, including rippled glass, confetti glass and drapery glass, and their distinct roles in creating a vast range of visual effects within Tiffany’s compositions will be highlighted,” Dehan says.
The exhibit also has a section with three lamp forgeries, meant to highlight how exquisite the Tiffany pieces are in comparison with those made to copy the Studio. “There’s so much more thought and care put into the Tiffany designs,” she says. “With a trained eye, when you look at them side-by-side, you see it immediately.”
Dehan believes the exhibition will have wide audience appeal and is a wonderful opportunity for visitors to experience these unique works of art, which can be appreciated on many levels.
People with an interest in painting will definitely be fascinated by how Tiffany used glass to manipulate the effects achieved in painting. From an architectural and engineering perspective, the Tiffany masterpieces are intriguing as well. The show will also appeal to visitors who are interested in 19th century history and the feminist movement.
Certainly, the exhibition will captivate anyone who appreciates nature and beauty. “So much of the Studio’s work in lampshades and windows is very nature inspired,” Dehan says.
The exhibition, which is free for all visitors, is complemented by the museum’s Tiffany pieces as well. “We have an exceptional collection of Tiffany glass here at the museum in our permanent collection galleries,” she says. “People who come to see the Tiffany exhibition can pick up a special map that will guide them to see other works by Tiffany that are here all of the time.”
Tropical Landscape Window (detail), Tiffany Studios (1902–1932), Agnes Northrop (1857-1953), attributed designer, United States (New York), circa 1910, leaded glass, The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, NY, N.86.W.10
The Cincinnati Art Museum is located at 953 Eden Park Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 513.721.2787 or visit www.cincinnatiartmuseum.org.