The turn of
the twentieth century saw a resurgence in the production of stained
glass art windows. Whether this change was a manifestation of
the enormity of new church construction then underway, or a reflection
of the art of the times, it was met by several American artisans.
Foremost among these were the Tiffany Studios of New York.
Seven foot tall Gothic landscape window. Note
the use of Favrile Glass to connote the setting sun in the sky
and its reflection in the lake. Tiffancy studios routinely used
indigenous birch trees in its landscape windows commissioned
for placement in the northeastern
United States. From the Lake Placid Club. Signed, lower right,
Louis C. Tiffany, N.Y. 84" x 43"
Louis Comfort Tiffany, best
remembered today for his mosaic glass lamps, probably had his
finest hour as a maker of stained glass windows. This art form,
first used and best represented by the famous cathedral windows
in Europe, was initially an item almost exclusively imported
into the United States.
By the last half of the nineteenth
century, American innovators such as John LaFarge and Louis Comfort
Tiffany made window ornamentation and modern glass
making a decidedly American art form. Their artistic and creative
use of glass, based on nouveau principles representing naturalistic
floral, landscape and figural works, answered the need and, indeed,
accelerated the acceptance of stained glass windows as an art
form. They were incorporated into not only new church buildings,
but homes (even the White House), public buildings (The Seventh
Regiment Armory, New York), as well as Mausoleums and Memorial
Louis Comfort Tiffany, the
wealthy descendent and heir of Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder
of Tiffany & Company, built a mansion for himself on Long
Island. Named Laurelton Hall, it incorporated many of his most
ambitious window works. Some of these had been exhibited at various
worlds fairs and exhibitions throughout the globe. These designs
helped Tiffany Studios attain worldwide acclaim and were used
to market Tiffany Studios as a design and manufacturing concern
for stained glass window commissions. This production lasted
many years until the termination of Tiffany Studios in 1938 (following
bankruptcy in 1932).
One of the last
major commissions for Tiffany Studios was the fabrication and
installation of eleven windows at the Lake Placid Club Chapel
in Lake Placid, New York. The Chapel was built in memory of Annie
Dewey, wife of Melvil Dewey. He was best known as the inventor
of the Dewey Decimal System and founder of the Lake Placid Club.
The Chapel was constructed in 1923 and the last of the windows
were installed in 1927.
During this time, Melvil Dewey
was wintering in Sebring, Florida, where he attempted to create
another Lake Placid Club, even having Lake Childs renamed Lake
Placid by the Florida legislature. The town of Lake Stearns had
a similar fate and is still known today as Lake Placid, Florida.
Unfortunately, the Depression of the 1930s, lack of funding and
the death of Melvil Dewey in December, 1931, (thirteen months
before that of Louis Tiffany), doomed the project.
"Sower" window from the Lake Placid
Club, N.Y., circa 1923. The use of mottled glass gives the impression
of fallen seeds on the ground while the use of rolled glass suggests
the falling seeds. Similar glass was employed to suggest falling
water in the "Feeding The Flamingos" window currently
in the Morse Museum of American Art, Winter Park, Florida. 64"
As far as the Lake Placid
Club of New York, it too succumbed shortly after the city of
Lake Placid hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics. The Lake Placid
Club was sold as a time share. This project failed and in the
early 1980s the club and company were in receivership. Tiffany's
eleven stained glass windows were professionally removed from
the Chapel, crated and stored in response to several fires on
the property. These windows have recently resurfaced and are
now privately owned. We are privileged to picture three of them
here. For the first time in twenty years, they see the light
Fortunately, most of the windows
Louis Tiffany used in his own home were likewise saved from further
neglect and vandalism. Due to foresight, generosity and the civic
mindedness of Jeanette and Hugh McKean of Winter Park, Florida,
these treasures are on permanent view at the Charles Hosmer Morse
Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Florida. The Museum is
open to the public. Other Tiffany windows are viewable by the
public in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
on Fifth Avenue, New York, The Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk,
Virginia, the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York and
the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine, Florida.
The timeless beauty and innovative
techniques of one of Americas unique artists, working in
one of Americas unique art forms, can be appreciated by
us today much as it was one hundred years ago. And fortunately,
their place in the cultural heritage of Florida is assured.
About the author:
Dr. May is an avid collector of Victorian antiques and regularly
authors articles for Antiques & Art Around Florida. His book
on Victorian Decor in America is anticipated in the Spring of
Art Around Florida
The Best Antiques Guide Magazine in the
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