LOUIS COMFORT TIFFANY--Father, Family Man
Just for fun, this Father's Day imagine your father is Louis Comfort Tiffany. You would be one of his 8 children and your lifestyle would be luxurious. This month's newsletter focuses on the artist's private life. See photos of his family and their fantastic homes in the History article below.
Also, we present three diverse glass artworks; - a ceiling fixture, wall sconces and a window. See Featured Items below.
Note: Each item presented is a one-of-a-kind work of art available for purchase. Should any item sell, there are no duplicates. Contact us about any similar items.
Mission Style Dragonfly Ceiling Lamp
18" W.; 16" L.
Honey background, green trim, red jewel eyes;
Ceiling Mount Hardware, two candelabra sockets 60 watts each.
Flush Mount Hardware option.
Leaf Wall Sconces
Shade: 9" W.
Back Plate: 14" L. 4 ½" W.;
Sconce: 14" D.
Teal opaque and clear glass;
Antique Brass finish metal
Detail (unlit) Sconces can be mounted face up or down.
18" W. X 23" L.
Exotic white bird sitting against large green palm fronds,
accented with colorful flowers, frosty glass background.
LOUIS COMFORT TIFFANY (1848-1933),
FATHER, GRANDFATHER, FAMILY MAN
As a father, grandfather and family man, Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Charles Louis Tiffany of the renowned Tiffany and Co. jewelers, became world famous in his own right and amassed a great fortune which he spent lavishly on his family and personal life.
L.C. Tiffany (far left) with his wife Louise, children and parents (seated) holding Tiffany's twin daughters, Louise & Julia. 1887
Louis Comfort Tiffany married twice and had eight children. In 1872 at age 24, he married Mary Goddard (1850-1884) in Norwich Connecticut and had four children born between 1873 and 1879. After the death of his wife, Tiffany, aged 36, was left grief-stricken, with four small children.
In 1886 at age 38, he married Louise Knox (1851-1904) and had four more children between 1887 and 1891. Tiffany outlived three of his children. His twins Louise and Julia lived until 1974 and 1973 respectively; their sister Dorothy lived until 1979. His daughter Tiffany's grandson, William T. Lusk was president of his great grandfather's jewelry business, Tiffany and Co., from 1955 to 1967.
Grandpa, Charles L. Tiffany with Louis's children. 1888
Pastel rendering by L.C. Tiffany of his second wife, Louise.
Louis Comfort Tiffany built fantastic multi-dwellings for his family and relatives. He decorated them in grand opulence evoking the fairy tales of the Arabian Nights. His family had servants and his children played in city mansions and large country estates.
NEW YORK CITY RESIDENCE
The Tiffany multi-family mansion,
72nd St. & Madison Ave., N.Y.
Tiffany built a picturesque Romanesque Revival mansion on 72nd Street and Madison Avenue, New York, completed in 1885. Louis and his family occupied the two top floors. The bottom portion was the residence of his parents, sister and family.
At the time a mania for Orientalism swept Europe and the United States. Tiffany decorated the mansion eclectically, combining Japanese, Moorish, Byzantine and other exotic stylistic elements. The rooms were perfumed by a profusion of frequently changed blooming hothouse plants. The fireplaces cast a multi-colored glow from treated burning wood. Soft organ music was heard throughout, and stairways were hidden behind exotic plants.
Luxury abounding, the décor of the dining room was melodramatic with a curious sense of unreality and of the theatrical, particularly revealed when lit by gaslight. His art studio was a popular gathering place for the creative glitterati.
Family dining room 1888
Tiffany's multi-story home studio
For the lounge Tiffany designed a five-panel bay window in which flowering magnolias are set beneath wisteria sprays, a highly realistic way in which to draw the building's exterior into its interior. After Tiffany's death in 1933 the family mansion was demolished in 1936 and replaced with an apartment building, 19 East 72nd Street.
The lounge with magnolia windows. 1885
Magnolia & Wisteria panel
The Briars was Tiffany's summer residence built on Long Island, New York. Its principal theme was the gardens around the property, and that Nature (especially flowers) were the source of Tiffany's strength as a colorist.
The Briars, c. 1900
Laurelton Hall, Long Island, NY
Entrance to Laurelton Hall
Laurelton Hall was built at the height of Tiffany's career between 1902 and 1905. The eighty-four-room (including 25 bathrooms) eight-level estate was situated on 600 acres overlooking Cold Spring Harbor in Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY. This was Tiffany's dream home, where creativity flowed freely and convention was eschewed in place of novelty. Money was spent lavishly on decorating it in what he termed a Neo-Islamic Mode. The house was regarded as one of the showplaces of the century.
Dining room at Laurelton Hall. 1907
Central court with glass fountain. Laurelton Hall. 1907
Porch supported by glass-daffodil-topped columns
Detail: glass daffodil column
Sadly, after Tiffany's death in 1933 the family deemed Laurelton Hall too costly and impractical to maintain. It became derelict and in the late 1940's, it was sold for a mere $10,000. Forty years before, the estate had been conservatively valued at nearly $2 million. Its exquisite objects d' art and stained glass windows were auctioned off for a fraction of their original worth.
In 1957 the home was finally destroyed by fire and any priceless works of art remaining were to be bulldozed over in the rubble. Fortunately, neighbors Jeannette and Hugh McKean rescued the remnants of the estate and placed them in the Morse Museum in Winter Park, Florida. The museum holds a treasure trove from the Tiffany family's lavish life and is well worth a trip to Florida to see.
How could one man go from international fame to virtual obscurity within his lifetime? While his family name remained famous via Tiffany & Co. Jewelers, Louis Comfort Tiffany's name and stained glass empire did not.
The horrors of the Great War, (WWI, 1914-1918) ushered in a new century of radical change. Gone was ostentatiousness and sentimentality to be replaced by minimalism and good times ahead. Unfortunately for Tiffany his ideals remained in the past. His glassworks were no longer in fashion. In 1932 his once fabulously successful studios went into bankruptcy. He had squandered away most of his wealth. This once dynamic man became introverted and isolated.
He had little contact with his family and friends. His only companion was a young Irish woman, Sarah Hanley who had gone to Laurelton Hall to nurse him through an illness and stayed on to become his protégée. He built her a house on the estate and this odd couple would wander around the grounds painting pictures of flowers and of each other. Sarah was with him until the end. Tiffany died on January 17, 1933, a month before his 85th birthday, mourned by Sarah and a handful of loyal friends but scarcely at all by his family.
Tiffany with his granddaughter, Louise Lusk Platt (left) and his nurse Sarah Handley (right), c. 1930
Studio at Laurelton Hall
L: Green circle shows detail of dragonfly lamp on desk below it
R: Actual Dragonfly lamp featured in photo