The Beginnings of Tiffany Glass
Guest Post by Megan Mayfield, MOA Marketing Intern
On February 8th, the MOA hosted a Guest Lecture by Dr. Josh Probert, titled “Tiffany Studios, Church Décor, and the Gospel of Good Taste.” Probert, an expert on the religious works of the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, presented a fascinating insight into the history of Tiffany Studios, in conjunction with the current MOA exhibition Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light.
Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Charles Tiffany (founder of Tiffany & Co.), started his career as a painter. Surrounded by other Hudson River painters, Tiffany flourished. His interest in glass and the decorative arts drew him to create his own company—the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company.
While Tiffany is best known for his gorgeous stained glass lamps, the lamps weren’t produced by the company until 30 years after its founding. The early years of Tiffany Studios focused specifically on religious works for churches across the nation. The Tiffany Studios Glass Shop produced many stained-glass windows and mosaics. Along with these décor pieces, Tiffany also provided church renovations, including altars, pulpits, and chandeliers.
Many churches were completely rebuilt or renovated with designs from Tiffany. Some of these churches include the Church of the Covenant, Boston; St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Baltimore; and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Troy, NY. The Salt Lake Temple in Utah also employed Tiffany for four windows within the building.
The boom of wealth in the United States during the Gilded Age gave rise to a new belief that a person became more elevated by being surrounded by opulence and grandeur. This new belief, coupled with many Americans’ newfound wealth helped the decorative arts explode in both the personal and public spheres. It is only natural that the decorative arts would explode in the religious sphere as well.
Visit Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light at the BYU Museum of Art to experience the best of Tiffany Studios’ work, including ecclesiastic work.