Louis Comfort Tiffany's Quest of Beauty
Ongoing in the Markin Gallery on the museum's lower level
Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) described his life's work as a "quest of beauty." It began with his childhood love of nature where he discovered an endless array of forms and colors.
Trained as a painter, Tiffany's search for exotic scenes led him to Egypt and North Africa, There he discovered brilliant colors and intricate patterns in Arab tile work and carpet designs. His exposure to these exotic cultures would shape his career as the most influential American designer at the turn of the 20th century. His aesthetic informed his work in architecture, interiors, and the decorative arts-glass, ceramics, metalwork, enamels, and jewelry. Founded upon his deep love of nature, his work offered a visual feast of color, light, and texture.
By the late 1870's, Tiffany's creative imagination was drawn to glass making, a medium he pushed to its most expressive possibilities throughout his career. He developed a type of glass he called Favrile, a name rooted in the old English word for "handmade." He described it as "brilliant or deeply toned colors, usually iridescent like the wings of certain American butterflies, the necks of pigeons and peacocks, the wing covers of various beetles."
Although Tiffany is perhaps best known for his leaded glass lamps, he used the glass medium in many different ways. From intricate jewelry to hand-blown glass vases, to entire walls and ceilings, glass was an essential part of Louis Comfort Tiffany's artistic vision.
This exhibition marks the premiere of a special installation of the KIA's collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Collected over the past four years, the KIA has acquired glass vases, a glass and bronze lamp, a painting, a drawing, two jeweled brooches, and numerous examples of mosaics and ceramics. The collection has been formed in part through generous financial gifts from Tiffany & Co., Mrs. Richard C. Oughton, and an anonymous donor, but also through generous donations of objects by Tiffany & Co., Mrs. Paige Rense, Mrs. T. Suffern Tailer, and Mr. John Loring.
Louis Comfort Tiffany, Rug Sellers in Tangiers, 1870, colored pencil on paper | Gift of Paige Rense in honor of John Loring, 2009.1
Louis Comfort Tiffany, The Harbor at Malta, 1874, oil on canvas | Purchase: Acquired through the generosity of an anonymous donor, 2010.74
Louis Comfort Tiffany, Mosaic Sample: Blue Spectrum, ca.1905, Favrile glass in blue spectrum tiles set in plaster | Gift of John Loring, 2007.14
Tiffany Studios, Woodbine Table Lamp, ca. 1910, leaded glass and bronze | Purchase, Tiffany & Co. Fund in honor of John Loring, 2009.118
Back to Current Exhibitions