|The name Louis Comfort Tiffany may not be part of your everyday conversation, but there’s definitely a chance you’re familiar with his family’s store. Hint: They’re famous for little robin’s egg blue boxes. Well, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848 – 1933), the heir of the Tiffany & Co. fortune, is famous for much more than engagement rings. Does this lamp look familiar? “Oh! Of course!” someone might say. “Those used to hang above the tables at Ruby Tuesday!” Well, sort of. Tiffany lamps are often imitated, like this dragonfly pendant lamp which is a replica, but they’re never truly duplicated. We’ve all seen some sort of knock off at a home decor store. But they cannot compare to the absolute pleasure of viewing 45 original Tiffany stained glass lamps up close at the Tiffany at Biltmore exhibit housed in the legendary Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Trust me. I did, and it’s design-geek heaven. Tiffany is celebrated as one of the preeminent designers of decorative glass. The exhibit at Biltmore showcases his designs in a dimly lit room allowing their translucent glass to light the way through the halls. It’s truly magnificent to view all of the colors and motifs up close and personal.|
Biltmore Estate is the perfect venue for this exhibit. The Vanderbilt family built Biltmore House at the height of the Art Nouveau movement, of which Louis C. Tiffany was a highly revered central figure. Art Nouveau celebrated the natural world and captured it in art, architecture and design. Lamps featuring Tiffany’s favorite natural muses — dragonflies and lilies — reflect his appreciation for the natural world. It is those designs that are most popular.
However, Tiffany also found inspiration in some creatures of the organic world that you wouldn’t expect. My visit to the Biltmore exhibit marked the first time I had ever seen (or heard of) a Tiffany lamp with a design influenced by the form a spider and spider web. (Be sure to keep an eye out for it when you take the tour.)
If you are as enthralled by nature as Louis Comfort Tiffany obviously was, you’ll also enjoy the Biltmore horticulture team’s celebration of the works of Tiffany. They’ve created four 40-foot stained-glass-inspired dragonfly topiaries made up of more than 12,000 plants each. Not your average topiaries! And after you take a stroll through the acres upon acres of gardens by the father of landscape design, Frederick Law Olmstead, savor a Tiffany-inspired dragonfly cupcake from the Biltmore sweet shop. Another trust me, here. They are delicious.
The Tiffany at Biltmore exhibit runs from now until October 23rd. Maybe a trip to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains is in order for the long Labor Day weekend? If you plan your travels for October instead, keep in mind that Asheville and the Biltmore are a popular destination for taking in fall colors.
If you’ve already been to the Tiffany exhibit, what did you think?
If not, have you ever viewed Louis C. Tiffany’s stain glass lamps or windows first hand? I would love to own an original, wouldn’t you?
Tell us in the comments below.