January 3, 2011 / 5:13 PM / 7 years ago

Florida museum showcases Tiffany glass works

<p>Straight-on view of the living room gallery, as seen from the reception hall gallery, showing the Turtleback globes and hanging shades, Lunette window, and Four Seasons windows. Reuters/Raymond Martinot for The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.</p>

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters Life!) - The last major art works from the estate of American artist Louis Comfort Tiffany will go on permanent display for the first time in February at Florida's Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.

A new 6,000-square-foot gallery at the Winter Park museum will be opened on February 19, nearly 54 years after a fire destroyed Laurelton Hall, the turn-of-the-century New York home of Tiffany, who was best known for his leaded glass works.

The gallery will house the surviving components of the estate, including the reassembled Daffodil Terrace, an outdoor room marked by eight 11-foot (3.4 meter) marble columns topped with wreaths of glass flowers and covered by a cedar, tile and glass ceiling.

"Laurelton Hall was not simply another house that he did," said Laurence J. Ruggiero, the director of the museum. "Tiffany saw this as a statement about art and philosophy and an attitude about life."

Over the past five years, the museum has been developing the new gallery designed to display Tiffany's remaining large-scale works in a manner that suggests their placement at his estate, as well as his love of natural beauty and his style of blurring the line between indoors and outdoors.

The gallery will also include 250 objects from or related to the estate.

The Daffodil Terrace will be displayed in a glassed-in alcove to recreate the feel of the original outdoor space.

"It's bathed in natural light for the first time since it was taken from the estate," said Catherine Hinman, the museum's director of public affairs.

<p>View of the reception hall (or Fountain Court) gallery, including the vase from the Laurelton Hall reception hall fountain and objects from the personal collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Reuters/Raymond Martinot for The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.</p>

As it did at Laurelton Hall, the terrace flows directly into a recreation of the estate's dining room, which includes a nearly 14-foot high mosaic mantelpiece, 25-foot long Oriental carpet and a suite of six leaded-glass wisteria transoms.

The adjoining living room features four leaded-glass panels depicting the four seasons, which won a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, and five turtleback-glass hanging lamps.

<p>Detail of coffered ceiling, skylight covered by six iridescent glass tiles in a pear tree motif, and glass Daffodil capitals from the Daffodil Terrace, c. 1914-15. Reuters/Image courtesy of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.</p>

Hugh F. McKean, an artist who had been a fellow-in-residence at the estate, rescued the works from the wreckage of the 1957 fire along with his wife Jeannette, who founded the Florida museum named for her grandfather, Charles Hosmer Morse.

The McKeans spent four decades tracking down and buying missing pieces that had been sold, auctioned or given away.

The terrace and many of the objects were warehoused until 2006 when the Morse Museum collaborated with the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art to unpack and restore the collection and create a six-month temporary exhibit that had been seen by about 350,000 people at the Met.

Tiffany, who died in 1933, was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, the founder of the American jewelry and silver company. Although many people identify him with color-infused, leaded glass lamp shades, Hinman said they were a highly standardized product which he sold to subsidize his other works.

The Morse Museum also houses the Tiffany Chapel, a Byzantine-inspired interior created for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and an extensive collection of Tiffany pottery, jewelry, ecclesiastical works and lead-line drawings which served as patterns for his glass works.

There are also thousands of photographs and business records from his studio.

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