Louis C. Tiffany


Louis Comfort Tiffany was the son of Charles Louis Tiffany, who in the 19th century founded the prestigious New York silver and jewelry firm of Tiffany & Co. which catered to presidents and royalty alike, including Queen Victoria of England.

Louis refused however to join his father's business, and chose to become a painter. After leaving school in 1866 at the age of 18, he began to study art under the American landscape artist George Inness, from whom he gained an appreciation of nature. He traveled widely in Europe during his 20s, and visited Spain, North Africa and the Middle East. He developed an interest in Islamic architecture and ornament, Romanesque and Moorish art, and Japanese ceramics. He collected glassware and other objects, and was impressed by the beauty of stained glass in churches. His paintings, some of which done on his travels, depicted landscapes and African market scenes, among other subjects.

On his return to the U.S. he began experimenting with glass and mosaics. Tiffany's chemical discoveries led to the development of an iridescent glass he named "favril" from the old English word "fabrile" meaning hand-made. It was produced by exposing hot glass to a series of fumes and metallic oxides, giving it an exciting iridescence of glowing colors. Over the years his Tiffany Studios, founded in 1889, produced many stained glass windows for churches, synagogues and wealthy clients.

Louis C. Tiffany was inspired by Thomas Edison's invention of the incandescent filament bulb to create his own revolution in the field of illumination: that of lampshades commercialised electric bulb drew out the novel breath-taking color effects within Tiffany's glass. The quality of the Tiffany Studios' light fixtures quickly ensured their universal celebrity, not only for their magical colors, but also for the high level of their hand-craftmanship.

Tiffany Studio design were known for the use of sensuous, organic, natural and floral forms, full of the rich colors of the Art Nouveau style that was then en vogue. Above all his lampshades with their haunting colors, and his iridescent colored vases became extremely popular and sought after the world over. Although known primarily as a glass artist, Tiffany was also involved in interior design, furniture, rugs, ceramics, mosaics, jewelry, bronzes, desk sets, mirrors and more. He decorated the White House, as well as the homes of Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie and others.

Louis C. Tiffany exhibited widely in Europe and won many awards and medals. His name became synonymous with luxury, his aesthetics were based on nature and its colors.