Sunday, May 27, 2018
Features and More

Tiffany glass is the core of the art of Louis Comfort Tiffany

In my youth, I only knew of two religious holidays, Christmas and Easter. And the biggest religious discussions I heard simply parsed the differences in Christian denominations that all had the same core beliefs. My world became slightly more diverse in high school, where many of my friends were Jewish, though I remained ignorant of most of the basic tenets of Judaism. A comparative religions class in college changed my view forever. I still cleaved to my Episcopal faith, but I realized that historical studies of world religions revealed much commonality and that people who practiced them believed as much in their truth as I did in mine. I decided that who might be right or wrong was not a question any mortal could answer.

This is an art story and you might well ask: Where is this memory lane musing leading?

Back to art. The 1890 stained glass window shown here, called Madonna and Child, celebrates the Christian holiday of Christmas, which many millions of people throughout the world don't observe.

But art, regardless of subject matter, can and should cross spiritual borders. Beauty has its own language with many translations.

Louis Comfort Tiffany

An American artist and businessman, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) was raised in wealth, the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany who founded the famous luxury goods store. He never lost his taste for luxury or ability to acquire it.

A painter, he became interested in the arts and crafts movement in which architecture and decoration were designed in tandem for a harmonious environment. To that end, Tiffany founded ceramics, furniture, textile and fabric studios but he was most famous for works in glass. He didn't physically make his fine crafts; he employed hundreds of artists and artisans for that. But he was the inspiration and innovator who oversaw all production and was involved with all design decisions.

The penultimate example of his aesthetic was Laurelton Hall, his enormous Long Island, N.Y., estate, completed in 1905, for which he designed every detail. After his death, it was sold and many fixtures and decorations dispersed. A fire destroyed it in 1957.

Tiffany glass

Tiffany's craftsmen produced different kinds of glass but the Tiffany Glass Co. is best known for opalescent glass, in which several colors are fused within the glass to produce tonal variations and texture, and for his patented Favrile glass, which has a unique iridescence. He used both to great commercial and critical success in creating blown glass vessels and stained glass windows and lamps. The stained glass was especially innovative, made like paintings with the leading never used just to hold the glass in place. Rather, it was an integral part of the design, in most cases used as one would use paint to emphasize or outline.

He won many awards for his company's work and commissions from wealthy patrons, churches, businesses, even the White House. He loved landscapes and narratives involving the natural world but because churches were a large source of his income, he also created many windows with religious subjects.

The 'Madonna and Child' window

This stained glass work was what we would call a speculative piece, not a commission. It's a copy of a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli titled Madonna and Child Attended by Seven Angels, and it was part of the exquisite chapel Tiffany installed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which showcased his studio's artistry with stained glass and glass mosaics.

Tiffany, while the committed aesthete, was also a savvy and astute businessman. He preferred original designs but knew that using an image by a beloved artist (Botticelli was rediscovered in the 19th century and became very hot with collectors) would attract interest and publicity. Also, in this window, beautiful opalescent glass is used along with two types of paint applications: powdered glass fused to the surface for facial details, called enameling; and paint applied directly on the glass surface with no heat, called cold painting, for the clothes. Using so much paint on the glass was unusual in a Tiffany window, but he wanted to demonstrate to potential clients that his studio could fulfill any stylistic request.

After the exposition, Tiffany had the chapel dismantled. Its components were purchased by a donor for installation in the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York but they never made it out of the basement. So Tiffany bought them back and reassembled the chapel in a separate, specially designed building at Laurelton Hall. But he removed the Madonna and Child window and replaced it with one depicting the Adoration, probably because he wanted an original design rather than a copy. After Tiffany's death, the foundation he formed to preserve his work sold the window to Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Conn. Collectors Hugh and Jeannette McKean acquired it in 1974.

The museum

The McKeans were avid collectors of late 19th and early 20th century art and fine crafts before their obsession with Tiffany. The Winter Park residents founded what would become the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in 1942, named after her industrialist grandfather from whom she inherited a fortune.

The McKeans had a significant collection of works by Tiffany and spent decades hunting specifically for objects, furniture and architectural elements from Laurelton Hall that had been sold off and even visited the burned site to salvage whatever had survived the devastating fire. Their dedication resulted in the largest collection of works by Tiffany, now at the Morse Museum.

Incidentally, if you have visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and seen the gorgeous Tiffany loggia in the Engelhard Courtyard of the American Wing, you can thank the McKeans both for rescuing it and donating it to the Met so it could be enjoyed by millions of visitors.

Comments
With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

With makeover, ZooTampa at Lowry Park takes a page from the theme parks

TAMPA — Behind the construction walls near the carousel at ZooTampa at Lowry Park, hammers, saws and power drills made a racket in the blazing Friday heat. A raft full of 100-pound water jugs took test trips on the new Roaring Springs ride set ...
Published: 05/25/18
Rare red wolf pups born at ZooTampa

Rare red wolf pups born at ZooTampa

The pups are an important addition to the populations of this rare Florida species, and the first red wolf births at the zoo since 1993.
Published: 05/25/18
Veterans get in free at Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and more with Memorial Day deals

Veterans get in free at Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and more with Memorial Day deals

Memorial Day is a time to say "thank you" to our veterans. The following is a list of free offers for them to enjoy. Some even last all summer.• Busch Gardens and SeaWorld are offering U.S. veterans and up to three guests get free admission to the th...
Published: 05/25/18
Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

Denis Phillips, hurricane season guru, talks his signature beer, suspenders and Rule #7

SAFETY HARBOR — Denis Phillips cracks a pop-top and pulls a can that looks a lot like him to his lips."It’s got that citrusy feel to it," he says. "Which is a Florida thing. That’s not bad." Indeed, there’s a grapefruit finish to Rule #7 Hurricane Sa...
Published: 05/25/18
Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmon’s was a meeting place

Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmon’s was a meeting place

It’s where former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams had lunch with current Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.It’s where University of South Florida fans often gathered to watch the program’s biggest road games.It’s where folks showed up in...
Published: 05/24/18
Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct in CNN report

Eight women accuse Morgan Freeman of sexual misconduct in CNN report

Eight women have accused actor Morgan Freeman of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior on-set, at his production company, and during press junkets, according to a report.CNN reports that 16 people have spoken out against Freeman’s alleged misco...
Published: 05/24/18
Ballet Nacional de Cuba stuns with a spectacular ‘Giselle’

Ballet Nacional de Cuba stuns with a spectacular ‘Giselle’

TAMPA — The Ballet Nacional de Cuba performed Giselle, its signature ballet, on Wednesday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Fifty-four dancers charmed a packed house, culminating in about two hours an effort that took more tha...
Published: 05/24/18
Bar review: Things are hopping at new Swan Brewing in Lakeland

Bar review: Things are hopping at new Swan Brewing in Lakeland

Lakeland’s a little out of the way, but I’m always eager to check out the bar scene there when passing through or attending an event. Every place I’ve visited just seems so pleasant.I regret missing the boat on the city’s first brewery, Lakeland Brew...
Published: 05/24/18
tbt* local craft beer of the week: Dark Harbor Mocha Stout, Sea Drift Ales & Lagers

tbt* local craft beer of the week: Dark Harbor Mocha Stout, Sea Drift Ales & Lagers

The saga of Barley Mow Brewing Company and its eventual offshoot/successor Sea Drift Ales & Lagers is a complicated one. The most interesting part is how the latter came to be as a result of brewery-distributor tensions, in which Barley Mow pulled an...
Published: 05/24/18
Dr. Beach ranks Caladesi Island No. 7 on list of country’s best beaches

Dr. Beach ranks Caladesi Island No. 7 on list of country’s best beaches

Caladesi Island’s "crystalline quartz" sand and "sparkling clear" water left an impression on Dr. Beach, who ranked it in his annual list of the country’s top 10 beaches.Dr. Beach, or Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, is a professor and director for the Lab...
Published: 05/24/18