century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

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Louis Comfort Tiffany

Artist

Centurion, 1870–1933

Born 28 February 1848 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Died 17 January 1933 in New York (Manhattan), New York

Buried Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

Proposed by Henry Peters Gray

Elected 5 November 1870 at age twenty-two

Archivist’s Note: Second cousin of Charles Comfort Tiffany; father-in-law of Rodman Gilder and Graham Lusk; uncle-in-law of Hiram Bingham; grandfather of Richard Watson Gilder, Rodman Gilder Jr., and William T. Lusk; great-uncle of Jonathan Brewster Bingham

Seconder of:

Century Memorials

With the Century, Louis Comfort Tiffany enjoyed the distinction of the longest resident membership on our rolls. Admitted to the Club in 1870, he had continued in our fellowship nearly 63 years. Only by Mr. Ward’s 66 years of resident and non-resident membership is Tiffany’s record overtopped. His Century associations accompanied an equally long and exceedingly distinguished career of artistic achievement. Throughout the seven decades of his productive life as artist and decorator, his energy in creating works of beauty was astonishing. Up to the very last, he labored incessantly; in his middle seventies, on a summer’s visit to the Pacific coast, he painted thirty landscapes.

It was to Tiffany that the artistic and religious community owes the revival in our days of what we had come to consider a lost art. He reproduced for the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries the stained-glass windows and surrounding decorations which create the atmosphere of the mediæval cathedral.

Alexander Dana Noyes
1934 Century Association Yearbook

Tiffany was the son of Charles Louis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany and Company, and Harriet Avery Young. He attended several military academies before beginning his artistic training as a painter, studying under George Inness and Samuel Colman in New York, and with Leon Bailly in Paris. His interest in glassmaking began about 1875 and he worked at several glasshouses in Brooklyn until 1878. The next year he joined with Colman, Candace Wheeler and Lockwood de Forest to form Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists. Tiffany’s leadership and talent, as well as his father’s money and connections, led this business to thrive.

A desire to concentrate on art in glass led to the breakup of the firm in 1885, and Tiffany established his own glassmaking firm later that year. In 1893, Tiffany built a factory in Queens, and his company introduced the term Favrile (from the old French word for handmade) to describe his first production of blown glass. At its peak his factory employed more than 300 artisans.

Tiffany’s first commercially produced lamps date from around 1895. Much of his company’s production was in making stained glass windows and lamps, but his company designed a complete range of interior decorations. At the Exposition Universalle (1900) in Paris he won a gold medal with his stained glass windows.

Louis married Mary Woodbridge Goddard in 1872 and they had four children. After the death of his wife, he married Louise Wakeman Knox in 1886, and had another four children. One daughter, Dorothy, who, as Dorothy Burlingham, later became a noted psychoanalyst, was the lifelong friend and partner of Anna Freud.

Tiffany died in 1933, a Centurion for 63 years.

James Charlton
“Centurions on Stamps,” Part I (Exhibition, 2010)