Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) and Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932) are well known in the context of late-nineteenth-century American decorative arts, and they make a natural pair because of their shared business interests in the short-lived firm of Tiffany & de Forest. At the same time, they were also accomplished easel painters, with a solid record of exhibitions and reviews. Tiffany was an early member of the American Society for Painters in Water Color, and Tiffany and de Forest both became National Academicians. Tiffany was also a member of the Society of American Artists. They continued to create and exhibit paintings throughout their lives.
The two artists began with works inspired by Hudson River School painting, pursued some European training, and then developed their individual interests as avid painter-travellers. They both experimented with the use of photography as an aide memoire. De Forest favored landscapes and architecture, while Tiffany also explored genre scenes and occasionally more ambitious figural compositions. This presentation reviews the trajectory of their painting careers and highlights a number of new and unpublished research findings related to their working methods.
Widely published in the field of decorative arts, Dr. Mayer is the author of Lockwood de Forest: Furnishing the Gilded Age with a Passion for India (2008), for which she won the annual award in the category of Decorative Arts Monograph from the Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America (2009). Additionally, her article “Decorative Glass in Tiffany’s Domestic Interiors, 1878–1900,” has been published in the exhibition catalogue by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Tiffany Glass: A Passion for Colour (2010). She recently contributed a chapter on Louis Comfort Tiffany and Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida to the catalog of Sorolla in America: Friends and Patrons (2015). In 2001, Dr. Mayer received the prestigious Robert C. Smith Award from the Decorative Arts Society.