Tiffany & Co. and their Iconic Glass Lighting

Louis Comfort Tiffany

Louis Comfort Tiffany was born in 1848, the son of a successful jeweller, Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of the Tiffany & Co. that we know today. He was an artistic fellow and studied art in New York before travelling to Paris, arguably the artistic centre of the western world at the time. In Paris, Tiffany was greatly influenced by the emerging Aesthetic Movement and Art Nouveau styles. It is quite probable that he was introduced to, and became influenced by, the work of Emile Galle  who was also producing glassware during this period.

After returning to New York, Tiffany was increasingly focused on interiors and decorative art, despite also being a painter himself. He set up his own workshop in 1875 and by the 1880’s was a sensation and extremely popular. Following his death in 1933, Tiffany glassware is still popular  and extremely collectable today. This demonstrates Tiffany’s impact and influence in changing the face and aesthetic potential of glassware.

Art Nouveau

The artistic style ‘art nouveau’ emerged in the 1880s and remained popular until the First World War. First showcased in Paris, it then went on to influence design in London, Europe and all over the world! Many people argue that it was the first ‘modern’ art movement. This is because instead of taking inspiration from the past, art nouveau can be seen as a reaction to contemporary developments and events.

Art nouveau has its roots in the Arts and Crafts, and Aesthetic Movements, as you can see the similarity with William Morris’ prints and the work of J W Whistler (such as the Peacock Room).  Although it is often expressed slightly differently in different regions, art nouveau style is characterised by the ‘whiplash’ line – flowing, undulating and often asymmetrical, and the use of stylised, floral or foliate forms. Key figures associated with the movement are: Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Emile Galle, Rene Lalique, Aubrey Beardsley and of course, Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Alexandra Kate