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Rare Tiffany Stained Glass Windows on View for the First Time in Montreal
Louis C. Tiffany (1848–1933), Design by Frederick Wilson (1858–1932), "Angel of the Resurrection", circa 1904-1905. Collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Photo MMFA.

MONTREAL.- After Paris, where it garnered both public and critical acclaim, the exhibition "Tiffany Glass: A Passion for Colour" will be shown in Montreal from February 12 to May 2, 2010. It is the first exhibition of this magnitude on one of the most famous American designers, Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933), to be presented in Canada. Developed and produced by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, it will highlight Tiffany’s remarkable contribution to the design and technology of glass, which earned him an international reputation. In an exhibition space twice as large as the one in Paris, some 180 works have been brought together, including a series of magnificent large-scale ecclesiastical stained glass windows and secular stained glass, magnificent blown-glass vases and lamps with shapes and decoration inspired by nature, some examples of paintings and mosaics, as well as original designs from the Tiffany Studios and period photographs. The many prestigious institutions that have lent important works include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Chrysler Museum of Art, the State Hermitage Museum, the Musée des arts décoratifs de Paris and the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

One of the highlights of the exhibition is a set of 17 imposing stained glass windows that are now part of the collection of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “As the windows had to be taken down [from the Erskine and American Church] for construction work on the expansion project, I saw a unique opportunity to mount an exhibition,” explained Nathalie Bondil, Director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. “After half a century of neglect, this part of our Montreal – and Canadian – heritage, the largest commission of works from the Tiffany Studios in Canada, has finally been rediscovered. It is the biggest restoration project undertaken by the Museum during its history.” These windows date from Tiffany Studios’ finest period, between 1897 and 1902. They have been taken down and restored and are now presented at eye-level for the very first time. The designs for these windows are held in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

The exhibition tour was organized in collaboration with sVo – Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, where the exhibition will be presented starting May 29, 2010.

The exhibitions "Tiffany Glass and A Passion for Glass: Gift of the Anna and Joe Mendel Collection" to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (contemporary glass, April-October 2010) are part of the cultural project Montreal, City of Glass, to be held throughout the year 2010.

From 1900 on, his artist’s eye for colour and composition, his love of glass and his flair for publicity made Tiffany a leader of American design with a reputation that extended to the great cities of Europe. Tiffany was renowned for the spectacular and original effects of colour and light he achieved with his blown-glass vases, stained glass and lamps. His love of exotic forms and rich ornamentation, his fine craftsmanship and the abstract qualities of the colours in his work made him a central figure in the art trends of his day, from the Arts and Crafts Movement and the American Aesthetic Movement to Art Nouveau and Symbolism. His fame eventually overshadowed that of other American decorative art designers and even rivalled that of European glassmakers of the latenineteenth century.

The exhibition will examine the early career of Tiffany, the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany (founder of the famous house of Tiffany & Co. in New York, which was renowned for its jewellery and silver), his sojourns in Europe, especially in Paris, where he studied painting in the studio of Léon-Charles Bailly, and his growing interest in the art of glass-making; his work as an interior decorator for influential American clients; his relationship with the Paris art dealer Siegfried Bing, who helped to publicize Tiffany products in Europe; his stained glass windows, an important but less well-known area of Tiffany’s output, including the prestigious commissions he received and the designers he employed. Visitors will learn about how a stained glass window was made and the various types of glass used; his “Favrile” glass vases with their organic shapes and striking colour contrasts.

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