It is impossible to estimate exactly how many stained glass artists have existed throughout history. One thing can be stated with certainty, however: there is no name that is more intricately connected to the art of stained glass than Louis Comfort Tiffany. Born in 1848, Tiffany was the creator of gorgeous art glass windows and lamps as well as the glass used to fabricate these works. Below is a brief overview of the importance of both Tiffany glass and its creator to art glass windows and the movement known as Art Nouveau.
One reason why Tiffany windows are notable is that they represent an alternative to painted art glass windows. With his innovations in glass production techniques, Tiffany was able to achieve most of the effects seen in painted works without applying enamels or stains. In other words, the textures, shading, and color combination's were integral parts of the art glass used in the creation of Tiffany windows. Many Tiffany windows resemble paintings created with oils or watercolors.
The diversity of textures and colors found in Tiffany windows is a remarkable aspect of these art glass windows, and this characteristic is a result of the many different types of glass developed by Louis Comfort. Relying on his training as a painter and his knowledge of the stained glass manufacturing process, he was able to create and patent his signature Favrile glass, which is both iridescent and slightly opaque. Other creations used in the production of Tiffany windows are: streamer glass, which has a surface onto which strings of glass are attached; fracture glass, which is highly textured and characterized by surface wafers; and ripple glass, which has a surface embellished with textured waves.
Louis Tiffany and his art glass windows were integral to the Art Nouveau movement. Art Nouveau is French for "new art." It represented a backlash against academic art, which were works developed in accordance with stringent standards imposed by universities. Floral and plant motifs were hallmarks of this art form, and works by Tiffany such as "View of the Bay," "Irises," and "Tree with Tulips and Stream" exemplify the natural subjects that were the focus of artwork at the time.
Today, Tiffany windows produced in the artist's studio are found in some of the world's most esteemed art collections, including the one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. While the average person cannot purchase art glass windows made by Tiffany himself, there are stained glass artists who can create reproductions that have all the intricate detailing, depth of color, and texture that characterizes these iconic works.