Art & Restoration: Tiffany stained-glass
Louis Comfort Tiffany, the American artist and designer who worked during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was best known for his work in stained glass, although throughout his life he was also a painter, interior decorator, landscape designer, and architect. From 1902 to 1932, Tiffany operated his own glassmaking studios, known as Tiffany Studios, where hundreds of craftsmen were employed to create windows, mosaics, lamps, metalwork, ceramics, and enamels, all of which were designed and influenced by the artist himself.
Arthur Femenella, the Tiffany stained-glass conservator overseeing the restoration of these windows and curator of the collection, has much to share about the design and creation of this unique set of Tiffany windows. Art writes, “These Tiffany windows are selected from a rich and varied palette of opalescent, drapery, rolled, textured, antique and flashed glass. The faces and flesh of the angels are delicately hand painted with vitreous paint. The rest of the windows are exquisitely plated, a technique developed by Tiffany and John La Farge involving the mechanical layering of layers of glass used to achieve depth.”
When these seven extraordinary examples of Tiffany stained glass were rediscovered they were structurally intact but showed signs of metal fatigue, distortion, and a variety of other issues. Fortunately, the professional conservation team was able to restore the original windows using Tiffany's own techniques and materials.