The Charles Hosmer - Morse Museum of American Art

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Previous Next <em>Taming the Flamingo</em> (also known as <em>Feeding the Flamingoes</em>)

Taming the Flamingo (also known as Feeding the Flamingoes), 1888
Art gallery, Laurelton Hall, Long Island, New York, 1902–57
Exhibited: World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893
Watercolor on paper
Louis Comfort Tiffany, American, 1848–1933
Signed, lower left: Louis C. Tiffany 88
35 1/2 x 23 in.

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) casts the flamingo in at least four works in the Museum’s collection, but the most prominent are the Feeding the Flamingoes leaded-glass window, c. 1892, and a watercolor that preceded it in 1888. A virtuoso glass performance, the Feeding the Flamingoes window depicts materials from hard stone and tile to spouting water and soft fabric (folded, so-called “drapery” glass). Its ambitious design includes plating (multiple layers of glass) and hundreds of extremely small, hard-to-handle bits of glass, particularly in the flowers behind the flamingoes. In the two related works—composed on a diagonal axis to create shadow and even a hint of mystery—Tiffany is clearly telling us that the virginal young lady he has placed in this picturesque scene is, like the flamingo, beautiful, balanced, and graceful. The pink in her cheeks reveals her health just as the pink of flamingoes reflects theirs. The well-traveled Tiffany was understandably enamored of this elegant wading bird he no doubt knew from parts of Africa, southern Asia, and southern Europe—exotic places that inspired the artist throughout his life. He even kept stuffed flamingoes in his studio in New York City. Both the window and watercolor were exhibited at the world’s fair in Chicago in 1893 and eventually came home to the artist’s country estate, Laurelton Hall.

<em>Taming the Flamingo</em> (also known as <em>Feeding the Flamingoes</em>)