The mid-nineteenth-century Gothic Revival, which sparked an interest in medieval arts, and the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s and 1880s, which emphasized artistic unity in interior decoration, both popularized and secularized stained glass and elevated its importance as an art form. Although...
The mid-nineteenth-century Gothic Revival, which sparked an interest in medieval arts, and the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s and 1880s, which emphasized artistic unity in interior decoration, both popularized and secularized stained glass and elevated its importance as an art form. Although the majority of stained glass used in the United States was imported from England and made in a traditional manner, American artists John La Farge and Louis Comfort Tiffany separately, yet simultaneously, experimented with new techniques and designs that offered remarkable, unconventional qualities of texture and color. La Farge's most important contribution to the art of stained glass was his use of opalescent glass (which he claimed to have invented) in multiple layers to create variegated hues and dramatic effects of depth. Unlike traditional stained glass, in which the artist painted the flat surface to render details and shading, La Farge's windows achieve the effects of shading and three-dimensionality through the layering and shaping of the glass itself. For greater textural effect, he often used an outer layer that had a corrugated appearance produced by compressing or stamping sheets of hot glass. Many of his works incorporated chunks or pebbles of glass-or even cut, faceted glass nuggets-to refract light, as seen in the jewel-like border of this example. This extraordinary window, one of five incorporating the Japanese-inspired peony design, was made for the studio of British painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Jean Guiffrey, a former curator at the Louvre who helped the MFA acquire the window in 1913, wrote that "La Farge has worked out the shape and shading of every one of the flowers' delicate petals solely by this process of varying the thickness of the glass. Before this could be done, he had first to sculpture the flowers and then make his final design in glass from the original carved model. It was work requiring the rarest technique and skill." This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.
"John La Farge's Glass / New York . US"
1886, created for the London studio of the painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema; 1913, purchased by the MFA (October 1913) from Alma-Tandema studio sale via Jean Guiffrey working as agent for the MFA, for $1200.
- John La Farge, American, 1835–1910
Object Place for Label
New York, New York
Other (no frame/glass only): (59 3/16 x 40 3/8 in.) Overall (w/original wood frame): (64 3/4 x 45 13/16 x 1 5/16 in.) Flat molding of frame from outer edge up to inside round molding = 2 3/4 in wide all sides
Medium or Technique
Leaded stained and opalescent glass