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History of Stained Glass in the United States

Sep 5, 2008
Stained glass has had a long history of over 5,000 years throughout Europe, but due to the late discovery of North America the art form has had a rather short run comparatively in the States. The history of stained glass panels in the United States of course begins on the East coast since cities there have a head start over those on the West coast when it comes to development and the arts.

John LaFarge was an accomplished painter and illustrator as well as a successful muralist. LaFarge was extremely interested in color and he began to experiment with stained glass and more specifically opalescent glass. During the 1870s opalescent glass was not available in sheets and both artists, LaFarge and Louis Comfort Tiffany, began tinkering with possibilities. It was whom discovered this idea and originated sheets of opalescent glass in which these men became rivals until the bitter end.

Both men applied for patents on opalescent glass within months of each other. LaFarge filed first in February 1880, for a patent that covers the manufacture of opalescent glass sheets, but only mentioned the construction of these sheets into stained glass windows. While Tiffany filed for a patent in October 1880 in which he patented the construction of the opalescent sheets into stained glass panels. The wording between the two patents was extremely similar and one would almost need a lawyer to decipher the exact details that made each different from the other.

John LaFarge installed some of his first stained glass panels in the Unity Church in North Eaton Massachusetts. "Battle Window" and "Peacock Window" are two of LaFarge's largest and best pieces, were both lovingly restored in the 1990s. These are two of his most fabulous works that give the best representation of the capability of his work in the art form.

While LaFarge was setting up his stained glass studio, Tiffany was creating a name for himself and his studio not far away. The Tiffany Glass Studios quickly became the in place for the rich and famous to get stained glass windows for their mansions on the East coast. With many names such as Rockefeller and Vanderbilt patronizing his studio Louis Tiffany soon became very famous and very successful in an artistic way with not only his stained glass panels but his Tiffany lamps as well.

Of course part of the success of the Tiffany Studios was an exclusive contract with Louis Heidt, one of only three makers of opalescent glass, which was needed for the windows. This made it hard for LaFarge to obtain the raw materials to fill his orders. In the end LaFarge faded away and Tiffany became the sole premier name in the stained glass industry that is now the name to search for fine stained glass products.
About the Author
If you are searching for fine Tiffany stained glass for your home such as stained glass panels and Tiffany table and floor lamps then search no farther than All Things Tiffany.
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