Tiffany glass still marvels the eye

Charles Tiffany who founded Tiffany and Company is not the only one who brought fame to that name. His son, Louis Comfort Tiffany, used glass in a way that still marvels the eye.

September 14, 2013 9:42:19 PM PDT
When you think of the Tiffany name, you might automatically picture a little blue box.

But Charles Tiffany who founded Tiffany and Company is not the only one who brought fame to that name. His son, Louis Comfort Tiffany, used glass in a way that still marvels the eye.

When Louis Comfort Tiffany began crafting lamps, vases and his famed windows, he refused the finest quality glasses. He relished the impurities in the cheap stuff and used them to create magnificent color.

Richard Driehaus says he covets a similar philosophy as a collector.

"It doesn't have to be in pristine condition because all of these objects have been used and time has gone on so there may be a scratch or piece of broken glass that's off a window," he said. "I'm not trying to make the objects look fresh and pure like today. It's fine to have that sense of time on it."

Driehaus first fell in love with the late 19th century artwork back in the 1970's when was decorating a bar he was opening on the city's Southwest Side.

"We wanted to do something a little bit more sophisticated, so we got original turn-of-the-century posters and stained glass windows and front work in terra cotta," Driehaus said. "But we also thought what would really be better, the best type of glass was not just Victorian glass, America would always know Tiffany-made glass.

Driehaus has since donated Gilhooley's to St. Xavier University, but his Tiffany collection, which has grown to include about 1,500 pieces, has remained private. For the first time, the south side native is putting part of it on display for the public. The Richard H. Driehaus Museum director says each item was carefully chosen.

"We have selected sixty objects from Mr. Driehaus's Tiffany collection and put them on display so that people could get a sense of the depth of his collection but also we are really looking at Louis Comfort Tiffany and celebrating the genius of his designs," said Lise Dube-Scherr.

Driehaus hopes visitors will share in what was Tiffany's life-long mission: "The pursuit of beauty."

"I hope people will get a sense of what like was maybe a 100 years ago and these pieces of the past of their beauty and how things were used and what life was like then," said Driehaus. "That was a life of objects and color and very different than today. You come into a place and you have white walls and wallboard on.

The Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibit opens on September 28th and runs through June. The Richard H. Driehaus museum is also sponsoring bus tours that start at the museum and stop at other Chicago locations that house the artist's work.

For more information: Driehaus Museum