Museum of Biblical Art presents Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion exhibition

. November 10, 2012

Museum of Biblical Art in New York City presents Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion an exhibition on view now through January 20, 2013.

Tiffany Studios, New York Frederick Wilson, designer The Righteous Shall Receive a Crown of Glory, Brainard Memorial Window for Methodist Church, Waterville, New York, ca. 1901 (detail) Leaded glass 151 x 92 inches Marked “Tiffany Studios/New York” Courtesy of Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York

During his long career, Tiffany (1848 – 1933) was an artist, interior decorator, and founder of a creative empire operating under various names over the years. In 1902, Tiffany consolidated and renamed his firm Tiffany Studios. He was an exceptional innovator both in terms of the works his company designed and as a businessman. In 1889, as America was experiencing a boom in congregations (between 1890 and 1906, over 4,000 churches were built in the United States), Tiffany established an ecclesiastical division. What Tiffany had done for home furnishing he began to do for houses of worship.

Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion is the first exhibition that focuses on the work the Tiffany Studios designed and fabricated for America’s churches and, on a few occasions, synagogues as well. The loan exhibition includes 83 objects, including mosaics, 10 stained-glass windows, dozens of liturgical objects, and scores of works on paper, design drawings and promotional ephemera.

Many of the works have never been on public display or have not been exhibited in decades. Among them is a spectacular 12-3/5 by 7-2/3 foot stained-glass window, The Righteous Shall Receive a Crown of Glory, which was restored for the exhibition (see exhibition highlights).

Divided into three thematic sections, this visually striking exhibition addresses Tiffany’s broad and encompassing aesthetic interests. Widely traveled, Tiffany took cues from Western and Eastern decorative traditions and freely referenced Byzantine mosaics, medieval architecture, Renaissance painting, Gothic Revival design, and other styles. Yet his work was distinctive. As illuminated in the exhibition, perhaps his single greatest gift both as an artist and in his work with glass was a sensitivity to the painterly effect of light passing through glass.

One thematic section examines Tiffany’s innovative use of glass and draws attention to the designers who worked for Tiffany Studios, including Frederick Wilson (1858–1932), one of the most prolific designers of ecclesiastic stained glass in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It also includes work by Agnes Northrop (1857-1953), who created exceptional landscape designs, and Alice C. Morse (1863-1961), whose work will be represented in two watercolor sketches for symbolic windows never before displayed (on loan from the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum).

Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion, which is accompanied by a fully illustrated 213-page catalogue, presents new scholarship and delves into the distinctive techniques, craftsmanship and marketing strategies Tiffany Studios employed for its ecclesiastic commissions. The vast majority of the Tiffany Studios’ ecclesiastical output between 1880 and 1916 – the period covered by the exhibition – were commissions from Protestant churches, reflecting American religious demographics. But the Tiffany Studios received commissions from Jewish congregations as well. Among the numerous public programs MOBIA will hold during the exhibition will be two tours of New York City’s Temple Emanu-El for a viewing of Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company’s May Memorial Window (1899).

Located near Lincoln Center, MOBIA celebrates and interprets art related to the Bible and its cultural legacy in Jewish and Christian traditions through exhibitions, education and scholarship. For more information, please visit”>

Category: Exhibition News

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