Stained Glass History:

 The origins of the first stained glass windows are lost in history. The technique probably came from jewelry making, cloisonné and mosaics. Stained glass windows as we know them, seemed to arise when substantial church building began. By the 10th century, depictions of Christ and biblical scenes were found in French and German churches and decorative designs found in England.

 

 

 

Techniques of stained glass window construction were described by the monk Theophilus who wrote a how to for craftsmen about 1100 AD. It describes methods little changed over 900 years: "if you want to assemble simple windows, first mark out the dimensions of their length and breadth on a wooden board, then draw scroll work or anything else that pleases you, and select colors that are to be put in. Cut the glass and fit the pieces together with the grozing iron. Enclose them with lead cames… and solder on both sides. Surround it with a wooden frame strengthened with mails and set it up in the place where you wish”

 

 

 

The Gothic age produced the great cathedrals of Europe and brought a full flowering of stained glass windows. Churches became taller and lighter, walls thinned and stained glass was used to fill the increasingly larger openings in them. Stained glass became the sun filled world outside. Abbot Suger of the Abbey of St. Denis rebuilt his church in what is one of the first examples of the Gothic style. He brought in craftsmen to make the glass and kept a journal of what was done. He truly believed that the presence of beautiful objects would lift mens’ souls closer to God.  

  

Stained glass windows are often viewed as translucent pictures. Gothic stained glass windows are a complex mosaic of bits of colored glass joined with lead into an intricate pattern illustrating biblical stories and saints lives. Viewed from the ground, they appear not as a picture but as a network of black lines and colored light. Medieval man experienced a window more than he read it. It made the church that special, sacred dwelling place of an all powerful God. 

  

 

 

We see medieval craftsmen were more interested in illustrating and idea than creating natural or realistic images. Rich, jewel colors played off milky, dull neutrals. Paint work was often crude and unsophisticated: A dark brown called grisaille was matted to the glass surface to delineate features, not to control the transmission of light.

 

Stained glass artists became glass painters as the form became closer and closer to panel painting. Lead lines that were once accepted as a necessary and decorative element became structural evils to be camouflaged by the design.

 

In the 15th century, the apex of high Gothic, the way stained glass was viewed changed. It became more a picture and less an atmosphere. Paler colors admitted more light and figures were larger, often filling the entire window. Paint work became more sophisticated, more like easel painting.

 

 

 

In this period, stained glass became a fashionable addition to residences , public buildings and churches. Heraldic glass showing detailed shields and coats of arms on simple, transparent backgrounds was common. Much of what stained glass was became forgotten. The 18th century saw the removal of many medieval stained glass windows. They were destroyed as hopelessly old fashioned and replaced by painted glass. 

Glass studios in England made their versions of medieval windows for Gothic Revival buildings. The Bolton Brothers, English immigrants, established one of the first stained glass studios in America. These Gothic style windows enhanced churches and simple ornamental windows and painted figural windows were the norm until the development of a distinctive American style.

 

John LaFarge and Louis Comfort Tiffany were two American painters who began experimenting with glass. Contemporaries, but working independently, they were trying to develop glass that possessed a wide range of visual effects without painting. They soon became competitors. LaFarge developed and copyrighted opalescent glass in 1879. Tiffany popularized it and his name became synonymous with opalescent glass and the American glass movement. LaFarge and Tiffany used intricate cuts and richly colored glasses within in detailed, flowing designs. Plating, or layering glass layers, achieved depth and texture. Both made windows for private homes as well as churches.

 

 

The process of using thin strips of copper as a substitute for lead came allowed for intricate sections within windows. Tiffany adapted the technique to construct lampshades and capitalized on the new innovation of electric lighting. Tiffany’s customers were wealthy, turn of the century families including the Vanderbilts' and Astors. The Tiffany style prompted many imitators and opalescent windows and shades remained popular through the turn of the century. 

 Stained glass, or more appropriate art glass, is all around us today. An explosion of interest toward the end of the 20th century has given riseto many new and imaginative forms of this art. The rise of the individual artist, new technologies and the growing interest in stained glass as a hobby craft have all lead to what is being called A a new golden age in glass. New homes are frequently embellished with spectacular beveled glass entryways, stained glass bathroom windows and Tiffany style lampshades.  

 Decorative panels are purchased just to hang in a sunny window. Marvelous hot formed glass pieces adorn tables, walls, shelves and fill windows. New artists are combining, creating, and developing unique new forms and styles everyday.  

History of Tiffany Lamps: 

 

 

 

Louis Comfort Tiffany, born Feb. 18, 1848, New York, N.Y., U.S. died Jan. 17, 1933, New York, N.Y.

 

American painter, craftsman, philanthropist, decorator, and designer, internationally recognized as one of the greatest forces of the Art Nouveau style, who made significant contributions to the art of glassmaking. 

 

The son of the famous jeweler Charles Lewis Tiffany, Louis studied under the American painters George Inness and Samuel Colman and also trained as a painter of narrative subjects in Paris. That he was also influenced by a visit to Morocco is evident in some of his major works. Returning to the United States, he became a recognized painter and an associate of the National Academy of Design, New York City; later he reacted against the Academy's conservatism by organizing, in 1877, with such artists as John La Farge and Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the Society of American Artists.

 

Tiffany's experiments with stained glass, begun in 1875, led to the establishment, three years later, of his own glassmaking factory at Corona in Queens, New York City. By the 1890s he was a leading glass producer, experimenting with unique means of colouring. 

 

His Favrile glass was admired abroad, especially in central Europe, where it created a new fashion. Having established a decorating firm known as Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, which served wealthy New Yorkers, Tiffany was commissioned by President Chester A. Arthur to redecorate the reception rooms at the White House, Washington, D.C., for which he created the great stained-glass screen in the entrance hall.

 

He designed the chapel for the World's Columbian Exposition (1893) in Chicago and the high altar in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City. 

 

In an effort to reach the interiors of a greater population, Tiffany began to design lamps to allow more people to enjoy art and beauty in their own home. Colored glass, Tiffany’s lasting love and challenge, found fresh scope and inspiration. While the windows served to transmit the light of day, the lamps represent a new source of illumination independent of daylight. Fabrication of the lamps began in 1885, with the majority of them being made between 1895 and 1920. It was not until 1899 that Tiffany publicly introduced the lamps for sale.

 

He began producing lamps after Thomas Edison suggested the idea during their collaboration on the electric lighting of the first movie theater, the Lyceum. But it is also believed that he began making lamps as a way to use up scraps from his window manufacturing business. Embracing the Art Nouveau style at the beginning of the 20th century, he instructed his craftsmen to create elaborate lamps to fit the new style.

 

His lamps quickly became popular at home and abroad. Craftsmen set tiny pieces of glass in natural patterns, featuring flowers, butterflies, or dragonflies, while the bronze bases complemented the leaded shades. Later, some shades were made in folds from panels of pressed glass, creating the appearance of a tweedy fabric. Some of the original Tiffany's were gas, later converted into electric lighting.

 

By Tiffany’s death in 1933, the popularity of his elaborate lamps declined with the rise of Art Moderne and Expressionism. For two decades the designs of Louis Comfort Tiffany were forgotten. It was not until the first Tiffany retrospective show in 1958 that his objects were rediscovered by museums and collectors. Awareness of Tiffany’s craftsmanship escalated with an Art Nouveau show in 1960 at the Museum of Modern Art. Today the designs of Louis Comfort Tiffany are honored and treasured around the world, confirming Tiffany’s legacy as a visionary of Art Nouveau design.

 

Louis Comfort Tiffany’s work set the standards for his peers of his era. Today, artisans all over the world have tried to replicate the impeccable craftsmanship of this most famous artist of the late 1800s and early 1900s.