We recently came across an art glass paperweight by the renowned American artist Paul Stankard. These paperweights are masterpieces of glassblowing and command very attractive prices in today’s market; we’re always pleased to see one of these beautiful works of art. Paul Stankard is considered by many to be a living master in the art of the paperweight.
Born in 1943, Paul Stankard began his glassblowing career by creating scientific instruments for chemical laboratories. He began producing glass paperweights in his spare time to fulfill his creative drive, moving to working as an artist full time after an internationally respected art dealer happened to see his early paperweights at a craft exhibit on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
A paperweight made by Paul Stankard is immediately recognizable by the remarkably lifelike designs suspended within. Stankard is often considered the father of modern art glass paperweights. Before him, floral art glass paperweights usually featured brightly colored, botanically incorrect designs. Stankard dedicated himself to creating highly detailed, highly realistic creations. The extraordinary lifelike depiction of plants, flowers, and insects is a remarkable achievement in glassblowing.
The artistry evident in these paperweights make them desirable to collectors, with a strong presence in the current market. Do you collect paperweights? Who is your favorite artist in glass?
On Saturday, April 25th, we were at the Malden Bridge Community Center for an Appraisal Day event. The event is similar to the Antiques Roadshow: individuals bring in their family treasures for appraisers to evaluate, looking for information and hoping for a pleasant surprise. We had a great time at the event, meeting lots of people and seeing some really interesting things. This week we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the highlights from the day.
One attendee at the Appraisal Day at the Malden Bridge Community Center brought in these three beautiful Louis Comfort Tiffany vases. The vases are a very nice example of Tiffany’s innovative favrile glass technique. Favrile glass was a unique development in the late 19th century; unlike many other types of period iridescent glass, the luminous hues of Favrile glass were created by embedding the colors in the molten glass rather than applying them later to the item’s surface.
Louis Comfort Tiffany was inspired by the rich, shimmering colors of ancient Roman glass, and discovered that he could achieve a similar effect by adding chemical impurities to molten glass. While his contemporaries focused on “pure” glass, Tiffany’s deliberately “impure” glass achieved an unmatched iridescence and vibrancy. The two vases at the left and center in the image are beautiful examples of classic Tiffany favrile glass. The vases are also a striking example of how Tiffany brought fanciful natural forms into his art glass creations. The vases have graceful, elongated forms that echo the shape of a blooming long-stemmed flower. The far left type of Tiffany vase shape is usually called “floraform” and is characterized by a ruffled rim and (often) a figural plant-like stem.
The vase on the far right of the photo is a rather more unusual piece of Tiffany glass. Unlike the favrile glass vases which are iridescent and opaque, this daffodil-decorated vase has more of an overall translucence. This type of Tiffany vase is known as a paperweight vase and was made using techniques typically applied to art glass paperweights. The effect is quite lovely: a row of brightly colored daffodils appear to be suspended within the surface of the vase. The vase has an overall iridescent effect with a transparent background.
On this day in 1848, Louis Comfort Tiffany was born in New York City to Charles Lewis Tiffany, the founder of the renowned Tiffany & Co. Louis Comfort Tiffany forged his own artistic path, separate from the diamond jewelry legacy of his father, and became one of the most notable America designers in the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements. Tiffany began his artistic career as a painter but by 1875 he had become interested in glassmaking, working at several glasshouses in Brooklyn until 1877. He founded Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists in 1879 with three notable American designers: Candace Wheeler (the “mother of interior design” and first American woman interior and textile designer), Samuel Colman and Lockwood de Forest.
During the height of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists, the company oversaw such important interior design projects as the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut. Most notably, the firm was commissioned by President Chester Arthur in 1881 to completely redecorate the state rooms of the White House. Tiffany worked on the East Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, the State Dining Room and the Entrance Hall. He refurnished the rooms, repainting the walls with decorative patterns and adding wallpaper with densely ornate Aesthetic designs, and adding Tiffany glass to the light fixtures, as well as an opalescent floor-to-ceiling glass screen in the Entrance Hall. The Tiffany renovations were lost in 1902 when President Theodore Roosevelt restored the White House interiors to their original Federal style. (Some surviving period photographs showing the Tiffany renovations can be seen at the White House Museum).
By 1885, Tiffany had turned his attention almost exclusively to glassmaking and dissolved Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists. He founded his first glass factory in 1892, naming it Tiffany Studios, and proceeded to embark on a highly celebrated and innovative career in fine glassmaking. His constant drive to develop new techniques while exploring and expanding upon traditional methods led to some of the period’s most notable works of decorative art.
Louis Comfort Tiffany admired the lustrous iridescence of ancient Roman glass; these optical effects were caused by mineral impurities not found in finer glass. Other glassmakers were reluctant to include these mineral impurities so Tiffany began making his own glass, deliberately introducing these impure materials for their luminous effect. Tiffany transformed the process of creating stained glass by using opalescent art glass in a variety of colors and textures, cut to the desired size, and edged in copper foil; each copper foil edged piece was then soldered together to create windows and lamps with an unprecedented level of detail. The copper foil technique was revolutionary.
Tiffany was constantly innovating and creating. He patented the distinctive Favrile art glass technique in 1894. Unlike the majority of iridescent glass pieces of the day, the vivid hues of Favrile glass were created by embedding the colors in the molten glass rather than applying them later to the item’s surface. Using metallic oxides and acid fumes, Tiffany could create a distinctive lustre effect. The term Favrile is thought to have been named after the word ‘fabrile’, old French or old English for ‘handmade’, indicating that the range was made by skilled craftsmen.
Although he was rightly renowned for his Favrile art glass creations, stained glass, and exquisite jewelry, Louis Comfort Tiffany also ran a foundry in New York that produced some of the finest bronze sculptures of the late 19th and early 20th century. A descendent of one of Tiffany’s foundry workers brought in some interesting historical memorabilia to one of our appraisal day events, which gave us a fascinating insight to the artistry and industry that went on behind the scenes.
Today we can celebrate the birthday of a prestigious artist and designer who gave the world an extraordinary variety of beautiful and innovative works of art.
On Saturday, April 13, we held an Appraisal Day event at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Castleton, N.Y. It was a well-attended event and we saw a great variety of heirlooms and treasures.
One very nice man and woman brought in some really unusual and interesting pieces of family memorabilia from their grandfather who worked as a glassblower at Tiffany Studios. Louis Comfort Tiffany founded his first glass factory in 1892 and proceeded to embark on a highly celebrated and innovative career in fine glassmaking. His constant drive to develop new techniques while exploring and expanding upon traditional methods led to some of the period’s most notable works of decorative art.
Tiffany patented his distinctive Favrile art glass technique in 1894. Favrile glass is recognizable by its iridescent sheen and vibrant coloring. Favrile glass was a unique accomplishment for the time; unlike many other types of contemporary iridescent glass, the luminous hues of Favrile glass were created by embedding the colors in the molten glass rather than applying them later to the item’s surface.
Pictured below is a charming handled pitcher that was handblown by this couple’s relative at Tiffany Studios. The pitcher is a very nice example of the Tiffany Studios’ exploration of more naturalistic and organic forms. The pitcher has a beautiful handwrought appearance, with gracefully curving lines that sweep up and out from the base.
Although Tiffany Studios is probably now best known for its glass, it also produced some of the finest quality bronze sculptures in its foundries around the turn of the century. Pictured below is an original photograph showing the couple’s grandfather working at Tiffany Foundries finishing the Women of the Confederacy Monument for the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson. The photograph is a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the process of some of the most talented artisans and craftsmen of the day. The relative can be seen standing behind the sculpture in the center of the image.
The monument was designed by Belle Kinney (1890-1959) in honor of the women of the Confederacy. Belle Kinney was an accomplished and well-regarded sculptor who worked on large-scale public monuments such as the recreation of the Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park and the bronze figure of Victory for the World War I Memorial located in the Pelham Bay Park, Bronx, New York. The Nashville, Tenn., native won first prize at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition at the age of 7, attended the Art Institute of Chicago on a scholarship at the age of 15, earned her first commission at 17, and was only 23 when awarded the commission for the Women of the Confederacy Monument.
Belle Kinney’s statue depicts a wounded Confederate soldier in the arms of a Southern lady, who presents him with a palm of glory, a symbol of triumph beyond the reach of death, while the figure of Fame extends a wreath over the woman’s head. The statue bears an inscription dedicated to the mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives of the Confederacy. The original concept called for all of the former Confederate states to erect the same design, but public disagreement on the monument’s final appearance delayed the process to the point where the scheme completely fell apart. The statue is a striking example of the fine quality casting for which the Tiffany foundries were known. The foundry was located in Corona, Queens, and produced some amazing sculptural pieces before closing in 1932.