The Charles Hosmer - Morse Museum of American Art

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Window, c. 1885
Ballroom, Tiffany house, Seventy-Second Street, New York City, 1882–1939; art gallery, Laurelton Hall, Long Island, New York, 1902–57
Leaded glass
Tiffany Glass Company, New York City, 1885–92
63 x 61 5/8 in.

On March 31, 1854, U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry (1794–1858) opened the ports of Japan to the world through an historic peace treaty. In the following decades, the resulting export of Japanese ideas, culture, and technology had a profound impact on the Western world, including artists such as Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933). Japanese themes appear in several works by Tiffany, including this leaded-glass window originally made for his home on Seventy-Second Street in New York City and later installed in the art gallery at his Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall. The window design features two trees made of heavy cames and two large circular shields reminiscent of designs seen in Japanese family crests. The background is an intricate swirl of flowers, leaves, and fluttering butterflies—a popular and enduring symbol in Japanese culture. The window was one of Hugh McKean's favorites. “The entire window functions as a mosaic in reflected light,” wrote McKean (1908–95), director of the Morse until his death. “The images are leaves at first, but then a butterfly appears, then another, then another.”