The company Tiffany & Co. was established in New York in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany. Soon after, the family enterprise, which has mainly focuses on producing jewelry and applied and decorative silver objects, gained the repute of the most stylish American company. This general perception was soon supported by the novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote which turned Tiffany into a synonym of luxury and an almost immortal concept.
In spite of the undoubted successes of the family enterprise, the future successor and heir, Louis Comfort Tiffany, was far from rushing to take it over. He was mainly into fine arts. He himself professed Romanticist painting and his study trip to Europe made him strongly influenced by Islamic and Japanese art which Europe amazedly discovered during that period. He shared his fascination by Oriental art with Edward C. Moore, one of the leading designers for his father, who supported the fashionable passion. It was approximately at this time, when L. C. Tiffany first worked with glass and designed vases and lamps of iris glass, decorated with motifs of peacock feathers, for the extravagant Peacock Room in the house on the Princes Gate in Kensington.
As soon as he reconciled with the short-lived career of a painter, L. C. Tiffany and two other artists – Samuel Colman and Candace Wheeler – decided to establish the company Louis C. Tiffany and Associated Artists. Their most important commission was the decoration of several rooms in the White House, dominated by an enormous wall of iridescent glass. This already echoed Tiffany’s previous experience with glass mass – alas, an experience which gradually developed into an obsession and unfortunately resulted in the company’s break-up. In 1884, Tiffany established an enterprise of his own, simply called Tiffany Glass Company, where he finally had enough freedom to experiment. Subsequently, in 1894, he established the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, whose main goal was to bring the Tiffany glass to every middle- and upper-class American home.
Tiffany gained fame by his “window-pane technique” which, however, was not based on creating images of painted translucent glass. Tiffany on the contrary departed from the qualities and the varied character of glass which was opalescent and which he subsequently applied on vases and lamps in hitherto unseen ways. Many of these products became a perfect example of Art Nouveau art due to the resourceful combination of organic form and decoration. Yet another Tiffany’s innovative idea which met with an immense success and has been highly valued was a fictitious corrosion as a decorative element on glass vases. The inspiration here was Tiffany’s encounters with antique and often heavily corroded glass during his study journeys.
The result of the vast production, limited to only several variations of the same, was that glass by Tiffany received rather commonplace air. This, however, does not change anything on the first-class quality and the increasing artistic value of the objects born of Tiffany’s glass experiments. After the death of his father in 1902, L. C. Tiffany took over his position of art director in Tiffany & Co.