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Tiffany Glass Dazzles at Winterthur


Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library will host “Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light,” a dazzling exhibition of some of the most iconic and celebrated works by artist Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933), from Sept. 5 through Jan. 3. The collection was organized by The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass in New York City. “Tiffany Glass” features celebrated windows such as “Grape Vine and Lemon Tree with Trellis” and “Well by the Fence,” illustrating Tiffany’s mastery of “painting” with glass. Iconic lamp designs such as the Dragonfly and florals such as Peony, Laburnum, and Clematis are also included. 

In all, the exhibition will showcase 99 object,s including five large windows, 19 lamps of various shapes and sizes, and 75 pieces of opalescent flat glass from the Tiffany Studios workshop. “The pieces were chosen for their masterful rendering of nature in flowers or landscape scenes and for the subtle use of light and shading in decorative geometric patterns,” said Lindsy Perrott, curator of the Neustadt Collection. “They exemplify the rich and varied glass palette, sensitive color selection, and intricacy of design so characteristic of Tiffany’s leaded-glass objects.”

The Tiffany exhibition is part of a year of programming at Winterthur that celebrates color in the Museum, Library, and Gardens. Catharine Dann Roeber, assistant professor of decorative arts and material culture at Winterthur, noted the exhibition will be accompanied by educational models that illustrate how leaded-glass shades are fabricated, as well as examples of Tiffany lamp forgeries, to explore issues of authenticity and connoisseurship. It will also highlight some of the key figures at the Tiffany Studios who made essential contributions to the artistry of the windows and lamps: chemist Arthur J. Nash (1849-1934) and leading designers Agnes Northrop (1857-1953), Clara Driscoll (1861-1944), and Frederick Wilson (1858-1932). 

As a painter, Tiffany was captivated by the interplay of light and color, and this fascination found its most spectacular expression in his glass “paintings.” Through the medium of opalescent glass, Tiffany could capture light in color and manipulate it to achieve impressionistic effects. Using innovative techniques and materials, Tiffany Studios created timeless leaded-glass windows and lampshades in vibrant colors and richly varied patterns, textures and opacities. Dr. Ergon Neustadt, founder of The Neustadt Collection, began acquiring Tiffany lamps in 1935. He went on to amass an almost encyclopedic collection, but perhaps his most significant acquisition came in 1967, when he purchased the flat and pressed glass leftover from the closing of the Tiffany Studios in the late 1930s.

This collection contains some 275,000 pieces of glass and is the only holding of its kind. With both materials and objects, The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass is uniquely positioned to fully explore Tiffany’s legacy of painting with color and light. “Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light” will be supplemented by a second, smaller exhibit, “Tiffany: The Color of Luxury,” which will present a playful, engaging look at the Tiffany name in American culture—from the iconic colors to the relationship between the retailer Tiffany & Co., and the artisanal Tiffany Studios. It will feature about 100 objects and graphics that illustrate the relationship between the Tiffany companies and the rise of modern luxury retailing in America.

Jewelry, silver wedding gifts, fine stationery and other, more whimsical objects such as silver toothpaste-tube turners and silver telephone dialers are included. Henry Francis du Pont’s own purchases from both companies, as well as a painting by Louis Comfort Tiffany from a private collection, are also highlights of this small exhibit. From silver baubles to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” this visually stunning exhibit offers a glimpse into the shifting material culture of elegance and refinement. For updates and more information, visit the Winterthur website, winterthur.org.

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