The Charles Hosmer - Morse Museum of American Art

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Collection Highlights

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Previous Next <em>Madonna and Child</em> window

Madonna and Child window, c. 1890
Exhibited: World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893
Leaded glass
Tiffany Glass Company, New York, 1885–92
Diam. 84 in.

In his exhibits at the 1893 world’s fair in Chicago, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) capitalized on the explosive growth in church building in the years following the Civil War. Tiffany exhibited major ecclesiastical windows in, and in association with, his chapel interior, and wanted it to be known that his ecclesiastical department could compete well using any style any institution or individual might desire. Madonna and Child, one of the windows exhibited inside the chapel interior at the world’s fair, is based specifically on a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli (1444/45–1510), Madonna and Child Attended by Seven Angels, 1487–90, which was destroyed in Berlin in 1945. With its light, slightly attenuated figures, the Madonna and Child window celebrates the ideas of mercy and adoration in the recently born Christ child. The window features Tiffany’s richly colored opalescent glass, as well as some enameling and experimental applications of paint. In reproducing Botticelli’s Madonna and Child painting in glass, Tiffany was making a statement on the superiority of the new opalescent glass. He was asserting that his studios could make windows that ranked with the most revered artworks of history. By 1908 Tiffany had set a policy restricting historical reproductions. The practice had apparently served its purpose, and the window department had shifted to the exclusive production of original designs.

<em>Madonna and Child</em> window