Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

GUNS AND GLASS: Art Glass of the Tiffany Era at Nevada Museum of Art

Posted on March 23, 2012
Filed Under North Tahoe Art Scene

Not what you initially think when you hear “Tiffany”, but guns and glass are an important part of this iconic family’s legacy celebrated at the Nevada Museum of Art through May 20, 2012.

Art Glass of the Tiffany Era is a unique presentation that will unite three distinct exhibitions that celebrate art of the Tiffany era. The Tiffany family design legacy is presented in this unique mix of exhibitions featuring Louis Comfort Tiffany’s stained glass of the Art Nouveau era and a rare collection of Tiffany & Co.’s decorative firearms. Charles Lewis Tiffany established Tiffany & Co. in 1837; while his son Louis Comfort Tiffany later founded Tiffany Studios, renowned for exquisite decorative objects.

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933), an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts, is best known for his work in stained glass. Originally a painter, he became interested in glassmaking around 1875.  In the beginning of his career, Tiffany used cheap jelly jars and bottles because they had the mineral impurities that provided a depth and texture that finer glass lacked. Unable to convince glassmakers to retain the impurities, Tiffany began making his own glass in a variety of colors and textures that became his trademark for designing numerous stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, enamels and metalwork.  To this day, Tiffany is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements.

Out of the Forest: Art Nouveau Lamps

This exhibition features 20 stained glass lamps manufactured in the early 20th century by the companies of Tiffany Studios; Handel; Durand; and Duffner & Kimberly. The exhibition focuses on themes related to the Art Nouveau style and its inspiration in nature, as well as the history of various design companies who competed for customers at the turn of the century. The lamps will be displayed on a 75-foot-long custom pedestal system designed in the shape of a dragonfly—Tiffany Studio’s company logo.

All of the objects in this exhibition are from the private collection of Byron Vreeland.

In the Company of Angels: Seven Rediscovered Tiffany Windows

Comprised of seven stained glass window panels, the works in this exhibition were created by Tiffany Studios at the beginning of the 20th century and named for the angels in the Book of Revelation from the Bible. The windows were originally installed in the Church of the New Jerusalem in Cincinnati, Ohio until it was taken by eminent domain and demolished for highway construction in 1964. The windows, crated and stored in various garages and sheds for decades, were re-discovered in 2001. This national exhibition tour debuts the story of these seven rediscovered Tiffany Windows.

Arthur Femenella, a Tiffany stained glass expert, and conservator overseeing the restoration of these windows, explains: “These Tiffany windows are selected from a rich and varied palette of opalescent, drapery, rolled, textured, antiqued and flashed glass.  The faces and flesh of the angels are delicately hand painted with vitreous paint.  The rest of the windows are exquisitely plated, a technique developed by Tiffany and John La Farge involving the mechanical layering of layers of glass used to achieve great depth.”

Tiffany & Co. Arms from the Robert M. Lee Collection

This exclusive, single-venue exhibition highlights the wares of Tiffany & Co., the most distinguished name in decorative firearms in America — a surprise to those who might otherwise recognize the firm as a legendary purveyor of fine silver, jewelry and luxury objects. Founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany, what became Tiffany & Co. commenced business just one year after the young inventor Samuel Colt registered his new designs for revolving pistols and long arms with the U.S. Patent Office. In the 175 years since then, the paths of Tiffany & Co. and Colt crossed many times.

The Robert M. Lee Collection is recognized as the finest selection of Tiffany & Co. arms privately owned. The collection of arms in this exhibition — including three revolvers, four pistols, one rifle, and one presentation sword — is rivaled only by those on display in the Robert M. Lee Gallery of American Arms, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Major Sponsorship for Out of the Forest: Art Nouveau Lamps and In Company with Angels: Seven Rediscovered Tiffany Windows provided by I. Heidi Loeb Hegerich. Supporting sponsorship provided by Bally Technologies, Wells Fargo Foundation, Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation, and McDonald Carano Wilson LLP. Additional support provided by John and Andrea Deane. Exclusive sponsorship of Tiffany & Co. Arms from the collection of Robert M. Lee provided by Wayne L. Prim Foundation.

The exhibitions that comprise Art Glass of the Tiffany Era will be on view February 11 through May 20, 2012. Programming, including lectures, performing art, a film, and tours, will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition. The E.L. Cord Museum School will also offer classes, workshops, and design studios on the design and craft of art glass.

The Nevada Museum of Art is a museum of ideas. The only accredited art museum in the state, it is a private, non-profit organization supported by the generosity of its membership as well as by sponsorships and grants. Through creative programming and scholarship, the Museum provides the opportunity for people to encounter, engage and enjoy a diversity of art experiences.

The Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm, late on Thursdays until 8 pm. The galleries, Museum Store and Café Musée are closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and national holidays. Admission is FREE for members, $10 General Admission, $8 Student / Senior, $1 children 6 to 12 years and free for children 5 and under. Museum Membership starts at just $25. To learn more, visit

Tiffany Studios, Lamp with Turtleback Motif, Early 20th century. Collection of Dr. Byron Vreeland. Photo courtesy Christopher Martin.
The Duffner & Kimberly Company, Lamp with Wisteria Motif, Early 20th century. Collection of Dr. Byron Vreeland. Photo courtesy Christopher Martin.
Seven stained glass windows, c. 1902. Stained glass, Tiffany Studios, New York. Exhibition organized by In Company with Angels, Inc.
Smith & Wesson Presentation and Exhibition Frontier Tiffany & Co Revolver, circa 1892-93. Robert M. Lee Collection © 2012 Robert M. Lee Trust.
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