Seeing the full range of Tiffany’s Favrile glass vase production is very rare and such a unique opportunity is presented at the Tiffany Masterworks exhibition organized by the Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA. On view until Feb 26th, 2018. As Louis Comfort Tiffany mixes both decorative arts and jewelry, it comes as no surprise that I have spent a fair amount dealing and researching his multi-faceted art. Before 1900, Tiffany’s expertise was in elitist and full interior designs for rich patrons like the Havemeyers. Quite adept at transforming a utilitarian object into a jewel-like work of art, he nevertheless soon felt such projects and subsequent large decorative lead-glass windows too fin-de-siècle Fine Arts and too exclusive for his business acumen.
Freshly back to my Art History studies, my friend Lorenza was hoping for a few jewel-related stories into the discussions of our course on Impressionism. Jewelry and gemstones are high on my grid but mixed with Impressionism, isn’t it a stretch? Not in my world: Opal is the Impressionist gemstone par excellence! Look at the range of pastel colors this opal displays: the soft brownish orange turning to a blushed apricot and a hint of coral, the green alternating between moss and forest until it fluoresces neon-like while bright aqua blue is dispersed widely with rare specks of royal blue emerging from the depth. This spectacle is what us gemologists call play-of-color, and it is visually very similar to the open and broken brushstrokes associated with the Impressionists and Monet in particular. Let me take you beyond the surface of opal for a bit of gemology… Erosion can have beautiful consequences. Water runs down, picks up mostly silica and other minor elements and becomes a silica-rich solution which permeates cracks. Once there, such solution deposits as small silica spheres which can vary in size depending on temperature and pressure. As the process repeats itself, a whole structure of tiny stacked […]