Send me an E-mail
(Please, no questions
 about value.)

Instructions for sending photographs of your pieces with your question.

What was the Art Deco style originally known as?

Style Moderne
Streamlined Moderne
Arte Moderne.
                     To see the answer

Art Deco Collectibles: Fashionable Objets from the Jazz Age
by Rodney Capstick-Dale &
Diana Capstick-Dale

In the 1920s and 1930s the Art Deco style influenced everything from art and architecture, interiors and furnishings, automobiles and boats to the small, personal objects that were part of everyday life: Featuring high-quality photography and vintage illustrations and ephemera, this book brings these objects to life in exquisite detail for the first time. The objects in this themed book encompass the Deco style at its most alluring, as well as the modernity, excitement, and social revolution of the Jazz Age.

                                  More Books


The Story of Art Deco

This video explores the origins and history of the Art Deco style, from its beginnings in the early 20th century to the 1940s.

Click on the title to view.

And look for other videos in selected articles.

Have Bob speak
 on antiques to your group or organization.

More Information

Can't find what
 you're looking for?

Go to our Sitemap

Find out what's coming in the
2024 Summer Edition

of the



Share pages of this ezine with your friends using the buttons provided with each article.

Download our
Decorative Periods and Styles Chart

Read our newest glossary:

Antique Furniture Terminology
 from A to Z

courtesy of AntiquesWorldUK

Videos have
come to

The Antiques

Expand your antiques experience.

Look for videos in various articles.

Just click on the
arrow to play.


French Art Deco Geometric Brooch

The Pursuit of Beauty
by Bob Brooke


Louis Comfort Tiffany was a very special person. He not only worked with glass, he had a relationship with it. He didn’t just create art glass, he actually created the type of glass—favrille—that he used to create his pieces.

By the time Louis Comfort Tiffany had been born in 1848, his father, Charles Louis Tiffany, had established himself as a jeweler and silversmith, founding the firm of Tiffany & Young in 1837. By the year 1870, his father's was the smartest shop in the country and was able to present for sale what was possibly the largest collection of gems in the world. The firm's own silverware was of a very high standard and had won prizes in European exhibitions, including the Paris Exhibition of 1867.

The young Tiffany took little interest in his father’s business and seemed to have no enthusiasm for the commercial side of it. In 1866, he decided to study art rather than go to college. He first leaned towards landscape painting and developed a romantic view of nature as the pupil of one of America's leading landscape artists, George Inness. Tiffany spent the winter of 1868/1869 in Paris with Leon Bailly, who took Tiffany on a visit to Spain and North Africa, instilling in him a fascination for Islamic and Moorish art, the styles of which he adapted in his eclectic decorative schemes.

Unfortunately, Tiffany wasn’t very good at painting, so he decided devote his work to the applied arts and interior decoration. In 1879, he formed a partnership with Samuel Colman and Candace Wheeler, which he called Louis C. Tiffany and Associated Artists.

He quickly gained an excellent reputation, and his pre-eminence as America's leading interior decorator. In the winter of 1882/1883, the White House invited him to redecorate parts of it.

The Associated Artists decorative work was essentially high Victorian with a sense of harmony, blending Islamic art with their own embroidered hangings and painted friezes and with tiling and paneling in the colored glass in which Tiffany was becoming interested.

He became interested in the domestic applications of glass, so he decided to break from the Associated Artists and focus on glassmaking. During his travels, Tiffany had formed a collection of glass — his particular fascination was with ancient glass with its marvelous nacreous iridescence, caused by decomposition while buried, and by the effects of metallic oxides. Tiffany also loved the pitted and corroded effects caused by decomposition. He saw the beauty of what were essentially imperfections in the glass. It became his ambition to learn so much about glass and its reactions to different types of chemicals that he would be able to control these accidental imperfections.

Colored glass fascinated him. The art of stained-glass windows was a challenge he couldn’t resist, but he was horrified by those craftsmen who were content to apply painted decoration to the glass. Tiffany felt most strongly that any decoration in his glasswork should be integral to the glass body. If, for instance, he wanted a glass vase to be decorated with flowers, he felt their presence should be represented by the texture and the color of the glass itself rather than just painting them on.

Tiffany was further inspired by the simplicity of the forms of ancient glass, just as he was horrified by 19th-century efforts to mold or cut glass into shapes more appropriate for bronze or porcelain. The irregularity of form of ancient glass awed him and, as a result, his own glassware had a certain asymmetry.

Tiffany didn’t produce all the glass that bears his name, although he kept a close supervision on everything that left his workshops. And though he experimented intensively with different types of glass, most of his output was of commercial quality, for he had a very large and enthusiastic clientele.

He kept the market happy with the plain gold luster pieces—vases, sets of beakers, glasses, tazze, bowls, finger-bowls and stands---which form the largest single category, designed mostly as decorative tableware In a patent claim filed in 1880, Tiffany described the essential method of producing iridescent glass as forming a film of a metal or its oxide or a compound of the metal on or in the glass, either by exposing it to vapors or gasses or by direct application. It may also be produced by corroding the surface of the glass, such processes being well known to glass manufacturers.

Tiffany found how cobalt or copper oxides could color glass blue, how iron oxide resulted in green, how manganese oxide produced shades of violet; how gold or copper produced red, how coke, coal or other carbon oxides gave an amber color, and how manganese cobalt and iron could combine to give a black glass. He achieved the distinctive gold luster gold chloride either suspended in the glass or sprayed on while the glass was still hot from the furnace. He used $25 gold pieces as the base. After the plain gold glass, the most frequent colors were blue, green, white, yellow, brown, amethyst, black, and red.

The second most numerous category was his decorated iridescent ware, which included all types of glass from the superb Peacock Feather vases and the flower forms to the simpler vases decorated with a few trailing ivy leaves or lily pads. Tiffany's Peacock Feather vases were the ultimate achievement in this technique, and they were often further enhanced by inlaid evil eyes of dark colored glass.

Another group that presented Tiffany with technical problems was his paperweight vases in which he trapped floral decoration between two layers of glass. An initial form would have been blown into its warm, soft surface would have been into pressed colored glass to form flower-patterns. These would be rolled until smooth and the whole would be cased in a further layer of glass, thus giving to the surface of the object an illusion of great depth which was sometimes enhanced by a light internal iridescence. Perhaps the finest quality paperweight vases were those which incorporated millefiore glass in which glassblowers sliced glass canes and then embedded them in groups in the inner layer of glass, then rolled into the surface. These millefiore canes were similar to ones used in traditional French paperweights, but Tiffany’s application was all the more remarkable because he was able to create so successfully a three-dimensional effect with so thin a body.

WATCH A VIDEO:  The Art Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany

Cypriote was the name given to a type of glass most closely inspired by the corroded textures of excavated ancient glass. Nearly always found in brown or blue opaque glass, Cypriote ware featured a crusty surface. Tiffany achieved this effect by rolling the body over a marvel covered with pulverized crumbs of glass. Cypriote pieces were often haphazard in form and were often larger than other types of vases..

Lava glass was generally of a dark blue luster body with voluptuous, abstract-organic, trailed or poured, gold luster decoration. In their 'very free conception of form, they were among the most revolutionary of Tiffany's works.

There are other categories such as Agate ware—colored glasses run together and then polished down to resemble agate—and Marbleized ware---colors blended to resemble the texture of marble—and the various glasses used in the series of leaded shades for table lamps which helped more than anything else to make Tiffany's name a household word. No well-decorated home in America was complete without one.

While Louis Comfort Tiffany was no great social theorist, his influence, however, was very great in giving an identity to American craftsmanship. At the back of his mind was always an ambition to become a kind of American William Morris, but he found it all too easy to indulge his taste for the luxurious and the exotic. There was no return to simplicity, although there was a return to nature and inspiration from organic form.

< Back to Caring for Your Collections Archives             Next Article >

Antiques Q&A

Antiques and More on

The Antiques Almanac on Facebook

No antiques or collectibles
are sold on this site.

How to Recognize and Refinish Antiques for Pleasure and Profit

Book: How to Recognizing and Refinishing Antiques for Pleasure and Profit
Have you ever bought an antique or collectible that was less than perfect and needed some TLC? Bob's new book offers tips and step-by- step instructions for simple maintenance and restoration of common antiques.

Read an Excerpt

Auction News
Get up to the minute news of antiques auctions around the country and the world.

Also see
The Auction Directory

Antiques News
Read breaking news stories from the world of antiques and collectibles.

Art Exhibitions
Search for art exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world.

Home | About This Site | Antiques | Collectibles | Antique Tips | Book Shop | Antique Trivia | Antique Spotlight | Antiques News  Special Features | Caring for Your Collections | Collecting | Readers Ask | Antiques Glossaries | Resources | Contact
Copyright ©2007-2023 by Bob Brooke Communications
Site design and development by BBC Web Services