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The New Art Glass/Tiffany
The struggle for a new decoration for glass probably began when the art of glassmaking started. In 1907 Edward Dillon, in his book, Glass, considered artificial iridescent coatings among the fantastic methods for extrinsically decorating glass. "Perhaps the most elaborate instance of such decoration may be found in the 'favrile' glass of Messrs. Tiffany, the well-known goldsmith of New York."
Louis Comfort Tiffany's interest in the opalescent glass of John LaFarge led him to develop further this new type of glass for church, institutional, and domestic windows. Although he sold many windows, the business did not maintain the glass factory which he had built. He began combining leftover glass with metals for jewelry, hat pins, jewel and snuff boxes. Later he also set vases and lamps of Favrile on metal bases.
In 1889 Tiffany saw in Europe an exhibit of old Roman glass which was iridescent from its long burial. Always a lover of the scintillating colors on the backs of beetles and the feathers of birds, he experimented with metallic coatings for glass and produced the iridescent glass he called Favrile. He designed lamps, vases, and bowls of unusual shapes and elaborate patterns, as well as simpler and less expensive tableware. His most famous creation was the Peacock design. Skilled glassblowers carried out his ideas. The new ware included a wide range of articles for "drawing rooms, dining rooms and boudoirs." Wall plaques and tiles as well as mosaics were included in the long list of products produced at the Tiffany Studios on Long Island.
Tiffany glass was very popular until about 1910. The public found in its irresistible colors a relief from the cut and imitation cut ware then flooding the market. The fact that it was expensive made it all the more appealing, and the name of Tiffany increased its desirability. After Tiffany established a market for his iridescent glassware, inferior imitations were exported to America from Bohemia.
Here in the United States an early competitor of Tiffany was Frederick Carder who came to Corning, New York, in 1903. At Stourbridge in England, he had experimented with metallized glass. After forming the Steuben Glass Works, he made a superior type of metallized glassware called Aurene. The classic shapes of Frederick Carder's vases, bowls, and other pieces, the uniform iridescent coating, the artistic naturalistic patterns, and the expert workmanship made much of his work superior to the darker and more ornate Tiffany ware. He also created many lovely designs in Cameo, Cased, and Overlay glass, in bicolor pieces, and some with applied ornament.