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Louis Comfort Tiffany

Louis Comfort Tiffany

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Louis Comfort Tiffany (February 18, 1848 – January 17, 1933) was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements. He was affiliated with a prestigious collaborative of designers known as the Associated Artists, which included Lockwood de Forest, Candace Wheeler, and Samuel Colman. Tiffany designed stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, enamels, and metalwork. He was the first Design Director at his family company, Tiffany & Co., founded by his father Charles Lewis Tiffany.

Louis Comfort Tiffany was born in New York City, the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany and Company, and Harriet Olivia Avery Young. He attended school at Pennsylvania Military Academy in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Eagleswood Military Academy in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. His first artistic training was as a painter, studying under George Inness in Eagleswood, New Jersey and Samuel Colman in Irvington, New York. He also studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City in 1866–67 and with salon painter Leon-Adolphe-Auguste Belly in 1868–69. Belly's landscape paintings had a great influence on Tiffany.

Tiffany started out as a painter, but became interested in glassmaking from about 1875 and worked at several glasshouses in Brooklyn between then and 1878. In 1879 he joined with Candace Wheeler, Samuel Colman, and Lockwood de Forest to form Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists. The business was short-lived, lasting only four years. The group made designs for wallpaper, furniture, and textiles. He later opened his own glass factory in Corona, New York, determined to provide designs that improved the quality of contemporary glass. Tiffany's leadership and talent, as well as his father's money and connections, led this business to thrive.

In 1881 Tiffany did the interior design of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut, which still remains, but the new firm's most notable work came in 1882 when President Chester Alan Arthur refused to move into the White House until it had been redecorated. He commissioned Tiffany, who had begun to make a name for himself in New York society for the firm's interior design work, to redo the state rooms, which Arthur found charmless. Tiffany worked on the East Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, the State Dining Room, and the Entrance Hall, refurnishing, repainting in decorative patterns, installing newly designed mantelpieces, changing to wallpaper with dense patterns, and, of course, adding Tiffany glass to gaslight fixtures and windows and adding an opalescent floor-to-ceiling glass screen in the Entrance Hall. The Tiffany screen and other Victorian additions were all removed in the Roosevelt renovations of 1902, which restored the White House interiors to Federal style in keeping with its architecture.

A desire to concentrate on art in glass led to the breakup of the firm in 1885 when Tiffany chose to establish his own glassmaking firm that same year. The first Tiffany Glass Company was incorporated December 1, 1885, and in 1902 became known as the Tiffany Studios.

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