It was in ancient Rome that stained glass windows were first created and admired, being simple compositions of colored glass. It was between 1150 and 1500 that stained glass art reached its peak in Europe, where large, historiated windows were being created for cathedrals (Metmuseum.org, 2014). These windows were “illuminated visual sermons of biblical stories,” and greatly changed the way the congregation learned about religion (Reynolds, 2013, p. 3). It wasn’t until the late 1800s that stained glass artists began making secular-themed windows. Another art form that became popular in the late 1800s was glass paperweights. It is thought that the first glass paperweight was created in Venice by the glass artist Pietro Bigaglia around 1845 (Exhibits.museum.state.il.us, 2014). Four artists, featured at the Corning Museum of Glass, who pushed the boundaries of the way these everyday items were created were Louis Comfort Tiffany, Jean Crotti and Roger Malherbe-Navarre, and the Compagnie des Verreries et Cristalleries de Baccarat.
Louis Comfort Tiffany was originally trained as a painter, but began studying the techniques of glassmaking when he was 24. In 1885, Tiffany established his own studios, employing teams of designers and craftspeople to translate his vision into works material works of art (Morsemuseum.org, 2014). Tiffany Studios, during its 50-year history, produced an approximated 5,000 windows. Many of these windows had religious themes, such as The Righteous Shall Receive a Crown of Glory (Tiffany, 1901). This window’s theme “celebrates victory over death, and the joyous theme of resurrection” (Cmog.org, 2014). Tiffany’s window depictions were overall more optimistic than most other 19th-century stained glass memorials, w…
…fiori canes, including some silhouettes, on a background of white filigree, and the third and smallest dome contains an upright blue lampworked flower with green foliage. The 3-Tiered Paperweight is made of three separate paperweights made with different techniques, which were then “reheated and then fused together. Due to the fact that each time a paperweight is reheated the danger of destroying it increases, this is quite a technical achievement” (Cmog.org, 2014).
These artists all pushed the limits of the materials and concepts they were working with. Louis Tiffany, Jean Crotti, and Roger Malherbe-Navarre all developed new ideas and techniques for stained glass, and the Compagnie Des Verreries Et Cristalleries De Baccarat took an new glasswork technique and mad it into an everyday object. All of these people offer different innovations to the world of glasswork.