Tiffany glass exhibition to bring some color to Newport this winter

Traveling exhibition on loan from the Neustadt Collection can be seen on second floor of Rosecliff, through March 1

Posted 12/27/19

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the legacy of Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933) and his renowned studio is highly regarded indeed. And while none have crafted knockoffs of Tiffany's iconic …

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Tiffany glass exhibition to bring some color to Newport this winter

Traveling exhibition on loan from the Neustadt Collection can be seen on second floor of Rosecliff, through March 1

Posted

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the legacy of Louis C. Tiffany (1848-1933) and his renowned studio is highly regarded indeed. And while none have crafted knockoffs of Tiffany's iconic lamps as well as Tiffany himself and the skilled artisans in his employ, a small handful have come so close, they fooled the eye of the most significant collectors of Tiffany glass, Dr. Egon Neustadt and his wife Hildegard.

The Neustadts bought their first Tiffany lamp, a daffodil shade, in 1935 when the young Austrian immigrants were out shopping for a dining room table. It was several decades since Tiffany glass was at the height of its popularity at the very high end of the luxury market, around 1905. "Tiffany had largely fallen out of favor, and it wasn't fashionable anymore," said Ashley Householder, Curator of Exhibitions for the Preservation Society of Newport. "Hildegard fell in love with the daffodil lamp, saying it brought the garden indoors. So they purchased it for $12.50, which still would have been some money back then."

They continued to add to their collection for the remainder of their lives, eventually amassing some 250,000 pieces including lamps, windows, decorative arts and glass pieces. Following the closure of Tiffany's studio in the late 1930's the Neustadts purchased the boxes and boxes of unused glass sheets and glass "jewels" to prevent a flood of newly-created forgeries made with Tiffany Studio glass from flooding the market. Today, The Neustadt Collection is an independent collection affiliated with the Queens Museum with a traveling exhibition, and administrative offices in Long Island City, New York.

The traveling exhibition currently in Newport is called “Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light” and showcases a selection of the finest objects from the Neustadt’s vast collection, including five windows, 19 lamps and more than 100 pieces of opalescent flat glass and glass “jewels.” Most of the items date to around 1905.

“Tiffany’s work is one of the defining examples of innovation in Gilded Age decorative arts,” said Trudy Coxe, CEO and executive director of the Preservation Society. “This is a great addition to our series of exhibitions on the second floor of Rosecliff, following upon our recent, successful Audubon presentation.”

As a painter, Tiffany was captivated by the interplay of light and color, and this fascination found its most spectacular expression in his glass “paintings.” Through the medium of opalescent glass, Tiffany manipulated light and color to achieve impressionistic effects using innovative techniques and materials. His Tiffany Studios created leaded-glass windows and lampshades in vibrant colors and richly varied patterns, textures and opacities.

“The exhibit illustrates the rich expanse of color and light available to the artists at the Tiffany Studios, and captures Tiffany’s artistic innovations during the Gilded Age,” said Lindsy Parrott, Executive Director and Curator of the Neustadt Collection.
"When you look at how these shades are put together you can ready appreciate the careful color selection, and use of opalescent and other textured glass," said Ms. Householder.

Tiffany Studios was much bigger than Tiffany himself — it employed hundreds of highly skilled artists and artisans, many of whom, including Clara Driscoll, Frederick Wilson, and Agnes Northrup, became well known in their own right. Ms. Driscoll was the head of the women's glass cutting department, and known for her wisteria lamp, among other pieces. She won two bronze medals at the 2020 Paris World's Fair for her work. Mr. Wilson and Ms. Northrup were known for their ecclesiastical windows. Artisans would render their designs in watercolor and receive approval before beginning production.

The exhibition includes several examples of Tiffany forgeries, which the Neustadt collection retained. "Thy include them in this exhibition to explore issues of authenticity and connoisseurship, said Ms. Householder. "And to illustrate what it is that made Tiffany studios so unique."

Rosecliff is located at 548 Bellevue Ave. The exhibition is free to view with paid admission to Rosecliff. For more information, visit newportmansions.org or call (401) 847-1000, x178.

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