Louis Tiffany Biography

Artist(1848–1933)
Son of Tiffany & Co. founder Charles Tiffany, Louis Tiffany was an internationally renowned glass maker and a leader of the Art Nouveau movement.

Synopsis

Born in New York City in 1848, Louis Tiffany was a painter, designer and world-famous glass maker. The son of famed jeweler and Tiffany & Co. founder Charles Tiffany, he began experimenting with stained glass in 1875, and co-founded a glass-making company in New York City in 1878. When disagreements between Tiffany and his partners caused the business to close in the mid-1880s, Tiffany started his own firm (later named Tiffany Studios). In the early 1890s, he created a type of glass known for its iridescent coloring, called "Favrile," helping him secure his status as a world leader in glass production. He died in New York City in 1933.

Early Life

Painter, Art Nouveau designer and world-famous glass maker Louis Comfort Tiffany was born in New York City on February 18, 1848, to father Charles Tiffany, the famed jeweler and founder of the prestigious Tiffany & Co., and his wife, Harriet.

After attending the Eagleswood Military Academy in New Jersey, Tiffany pursued long-held aspirations to become an artist: He studied with a private tutor in New York City and then took courses in Europe, expanding his knowledge of various art forms with a focus on painting. Upon returning to the United States, he enrolled at the National Academy of Design in New York, and began experimenting with stained glass in the mid-1870s. These early observations and analyses sparked what would become a lifelong passion for the creation and manipulation of glassware, and for breaking into uncharted artistic territory.

World-Famous Glass Maker

In 1878, Tiffany, along with several colleagues, founded a glass-making company in Queens, New York, which was initially named Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists (it would be renamed several times thereafter). The business quickly met with success and continued to grow as word spread about its use of opalescent glass, unique coloring methods, tireless experimentation and exquisite works, including intricate stained-glass exhibits, vivid mosaics, blown glass art, lamps and ceramics. Additionally, Tiffany had earned popularity, respect and admiration from citizens in New York City and beyond. His fame reached new heights in 1882, when he was commissioned by President Chester A. Arthur to decorate the White House.

Disagreements between Tiffany and his business partners caused the company to close in the mid-1880s. Shortly thereafter, Tiffany embarked on a sole proprietorship, opening his own firm (which would become known as Tiffany Studios) and equipping himself with a group of talented designers.

In the early 1890s, Tiffany became internationally renowned for developing a type of glass distinct for its vibrant and iridescent coloring, which he named "Favrile" (he later trademarked the brand)—a development that helped to secure his status as a world leader in glass production. Additionally, Tiffany became widely regarded as a pioneer of the Art Nouveau movement—a role with which he continues to be credited today.

Later Years

An activist and philanthropist later in life, Tiffany retired from his career as a glass-maker and business owner in 1919. Thirteen years later, in 1932, Tiffany Studios filed for bankruptcy.

Louis Tiffany died on January 17, 1933, at the age of 84, at his home in New York City.

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