Visiting Chicago and want to take a tour of some classic Tiffany windows? Turns out, there’s an app for that.
Chicago’s Tiffany Trail launches on Aug. 15 as part of the Richard H. Driehaus Museum exhibit and accompanying publication Eternal Light: The Sacred Stained-Glass Windows of Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The tour, available to download via the app Vamond, is a 14-stop interactive self-guided jaunt through Chicago. It provides details on the patrons who commissioned the projects, the technologies used to realize the designs, and how each Tiffany work is incorporated into the architectural design.
The tour takes visitors to a number of sites both religions and secular – including the Chicago Culture Center, Church of our Savor, Hyde Park Union Church, the Marquette Building, Macy’s on State Street, Rosehill Mausoleum, Second Presbyterian Church, and the Levere Memorial Temple. Yet the exhibit and book focus on 11 of Tiffany’s most significant ecclesiastical commissions.
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“He was such an experimenter and really pushed glass to levels it had never been to before,” said Catherine Shotick, curator of collections and exhibitions at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum. “It is really amazing, even today, when you look at his glass and realize how many different layers of glass were needed, the different types of techniques he and his firm used to create colors and patterns. I think it’s still a fascination today.
“But also, he wasn’t just modern in his creation of glass, but also modern in his subject matter and the way he discussed it. There was an incredible infusion of immigrants in America in the 19th century and this effected America in every way, including our religion. There was a huge need for churches and a huge explosion of new buildings. Tiffany recognized this need and a desire for a more optimistic approach to religion. You no longer saw the image of an overbearing God or suffering or sins. His approach was more of the good shepherd leading his flock. Optimism was definitely coming through his designs.”
The exhibit at the Driehaus Museum opens Sept. 7 and runs through March 8, 2020 with the accompanying book (Eternal Light: The Sacred Stained-Glass Windows of Louis Comfort Tiffany, $24.95, D. Giles Limited, London in association with The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago) available in mid-September.
All of the windows are from the private collection of Richard H. Driehaus.
“These windows used to be on view at the Navy Pier in Chicago,” Shotick said. “They had a stained glass gallery there. Unfortunately, the gallery had to close about three years ago because Navy Pier was undergoing major restoration. The windows had to go off view. The public just loves these windows and we wanted to get them back on view.”
The windows were created between 1880 and 1925, including the Antependium Window from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair which was key marketing for Tiffany’s ecclesiastical division. That window holds some interest for Shotick thanks to the work of Elizabeth De Rosa. De Rosa, who formerly taught in the History of Decorative Arts and Design at the Cooper-Hewitt/Parsons MA Program, researched and wrote the essay in the book and unearthed a new theory on the designer of that window.
“In working with her (De Rosa), she believes the Antependium Window for the World’s Fair was designed by Agnes Northrup, one of the only female designers working at Tiffany’s firm," Shotick said. "The new attribution of who designed the window is one of the biggest finds of working on this collection.”
While the Antependium has become a favorite of Shotick, the curator who lives among Tiffany’s work still loves the classic Ecclesiastical Angels, created in 1905.
“It’s such a great example of what Tiffany and his firm were doing and how they got the commissions they were getting,” Shotick said. “This window was commissioned by a church after a terrible tragedy when multiple women were killed in a carriage ride home from a church event. The window has an incredible story behind it. Tiffany used the stained glass window to create this memorial window to forever remember these women. That’s very much what he was doing with all these church windows. More often than not, they were a type of memorial for someone who passed.”
Headline Photo: Tiffany Studios, American (1902-1932), designed by Frederick Wilson (American, born Ireland, 1858-1932). Ecclesiastical Angels (Angels of
Peace and Mercy), 1905. Leaded and enameled glass. The Collection of Richard H. Driehaus, Chicago, 40016. Photograph by Michael Tropea, 2018