tiffany glass: painting with color and light

In July of 2019, I went to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley to see an exhibit called Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light.

From the museum’s website:

As a painter, Louis C. Tiffany (1848–1933) was captivated by the interplay of light and color, and this fascination found its most spectacular expression in his glass “paintings.” Through the medium of opalescent glass, Tiffany could actually capture light in color and manipulate it to achieve impressionistic effects. Using new and innovative techniques and materials, Tiffany Studios created leaded-glass windows and lampshades in vibrant colors and richly varied patterns, textures, and opacities.

Tiffany’s figural windows often combined innovative techniques, such as plating and the use of textured and patterned glass, with those of more traditional stained glass.  These include acid-etching, silver stain, vitreous paint and colored enamels.

The Reader incorporates sculptural “drapery” glass and dense “foliage” glass.  Carefully selected creases and folds in “drapery” glass created the young woman’s pleated bodice and billowing sleeves. The figure is set against a background of “foliage” glass. This is composed of thin, multicolored glass fragments that are haphazardly embedded in a sheet, suggesting a thicket of leaves and branches.


The Reader, about 1897. Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, New York.

Tiffany’s glass palette included drapery glass, which mimics the drapes and folds of fabric; ripple glass, which suggests water, leaves in the wind, decorative fringe, or the fleece of sheep; streaky glass, which has puddles and rivulets of water; mottled, or spotted, glass, used in landscape windows and in floral and geometric lampshades; confetti, or foliage, which has paper-thin glass flakes embedded into its surface; hammered glass, subtly textured with small convex circles to disperse and animate light; and glass “jewels,” which add sparkling accents and dimension to windows and lampshades.


Tiffany’s glass palette


Tiffany’s glass palette

In Tropical Landscape window, about 1910, “streaky” glass was used for the fading light of the sunset and the bark of the palm tree.  “Rippled” glass evokes the stream’s gentle current.


Tropical Landscape window, about 1910. Tiffany Studios, New York.


detail Tropical Landscape window, about 1910. Tiffany Studios, New York.

Grape Vine and Lemon Tree with Trellis window, about 1910, showcases more than twenty shades of green, with streaks, spots and ripples in the foliage alone.

Below are a couple of other Tiffany lampshades.


Tiffany lampshade


Tiffany lampshade

Wisteria Library Lamp, about 1901, was created by Clara Driscoll, a designer for Tiffany Studios in New York.


Wisteria Library Lamp, about 1901. Tiffany Studios, New York.


Wisteria Library Lamp, about 1901. Tiffany Studios, New York.

One of my favorites happened to be a forgery: Peony Lamp, forgery, late 1900s.  I guess I am drawn to bold patterns and textures, because the sign at the museum said that “nothing about this shade is subtle,” with its “hodgepodge of heavy patterns and textures. These include streaky, spotted, foliage, rippled, and a variety of ‘crater’ glass never used by the Tiffany Studios.”

Here’s the real Peony Library Lamp, which admittedly is more beautiful.


Peony Library Lamp, about 1905. Tiffany Studios, New York.

Apparently, it is difficult to determine the authenticity of a Tiffany lampshade.  The colors in Tiffany shades are compatible and complement each other. Individual glass pieces are selected to portray harmonious and naturalistic effects. Solder lines are smooth and rounded.  Patinas are understated, usually bronze with subtle antique green or russet highlights.  The majority of Tiffany shades are signed with a stamped brass tag soldered to the inside of the bottom rim or interior solder line.  The absence or presence of a signature is not an indication of authenticity.

I believe the lamp below is another forgery.


Forgery lamp

The Poinsettia Hanging Shade, about 1905, was another of my favorites.


Poinsettia Hanging Shade, about 1905. Tiffany Studios, New York.


Apple Blossom Library Lamp, about 1905. Tiffany Studios, New York.


Apple Blossom Library Lamp, about 1905. Tiffany Studios, New York.


dragonfly Tiffany lamp

It just so happens I’m able to participate in Jude’s photo challenge on this post: 2020 Photo Challenge #9: March’s theme / technique: Being Creative with Texture

This month we are going to look at textures. While the structure of an object is its form, the material from which it is made constitutes its texture. Is it hard or soft, smooth or rough?  You are aiming at translating texture visually, bringing life and energy to a photo through shape, tone and colour. Study the texture and forget about the object. Texture becomes the subject here.

This week’s assignment is: Find something smooth and get in close.

*July 28, 2019*


“PHOTOGRAPHY” INVITATION:  I invite you to create a photography intention and then create a blog post for a place you have visited. Alternately, you can post a thematic post about a place, photos of whatever you discovered that set your heart afire. You can also do a thematic post of something you have found throughout all your travels: churches, doors, people reading, people hiking, mountains, patterns, all black & white, whatever!

In this case, I was enthralled by the textures, colors, and patterns of Tiffany Glass that I found at an exhibit at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.

You probably have your own ideas about this, but in case you’d like some ideas, you can visit my page: photography inspiration.

I challenge you to post no more than 20-25 photos and to write less than 1,500 words about any travel-related photography intention you set for yourself. Include the link in the comments below by Wednesday, March 11 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this challenge on Thursday, March 12, I’ll include your links in that post.

This will be an ongoing invitation, every first, second, and third (& 5th, if there is one) Thursday of each month. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!