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Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion

The Museum of Biblical Art
October 12, 2012 – January 20, 2013

Vine Covered CrossLouis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion examines the array of church decorations and memorials that Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933) produced beginning in the early 1880s. For 50 years, working under a variety of company names, Tiffany oversaw the making and marketing of a vast array of decorative elements for many of America’s leading congregations—Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish. Tiffany employed designers, draftsmen, and craftspeople who produced a variety of works that, depending on a patron’s wishes and means, ranged from single windows to cohesive interior designs that included walls, windows, mosaic floors, lighting, furniture, altarpieces, pulpits, candlesticks, and liturgical vestments. A large component of the business of religious art consisted of funerary memorials. Tiffany’s products ranged from simple bronze tablets and single headstones to fully decorated mausoleums. Works in a variety of media—marble, glass, fabric, wood, metal—could be had “off the rack” with minimal personalization or as one-of-a-kind commissions, designed exclusively for a particular patron.

The success of Tiffany’s vision—measured in part by his prodigious output over 50 years—was due not only to the quality and variety of the work, but to his ambitious advertising campaigns. Through a combination of showroom displays, sales catalogues, press releases, luxurious illustrated pamphlets and installations made for national and international expositions, Tiffany ably marketed his designs to the public and clients alike. Through these various outlets, high-quality church and memorial designs became synonymous with his signature brand, Tiffany Studios.

Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion considers the breadth and depth of the firm’s oeuvre, and the place Tiffany Studios created for itself in American religious art. Featuring the leaded glass windows most often associated with Tiffany, as well as mosaics, watercolor sketches of windows, interiors and ecclesiastic furniture, and archival photographs, the exhibition shows how Tiffany continued the grand tradition of religious art, transforming it to suit an American audience.