by Kelly A. Conway and Lindsy R. Parrott. Corning Museum of Glass, dist. by University of Washington Press, May 2017. 272 p. ill. ISBN 9780872902107 (h/c), $75.00.
Reviewed September 2017
Rebecca Kohn, Senior Librarian, Palo Alto City
Conway and Parrott set out to remedy the lack of scholarship on the glass mosaics by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and this monograph more than accomplishes that task. Readers will feel compelled to respond to their call for preservation of existing mosaics, especially those in vulnerable locations. This call to attention is accomplished through the excellent photography and the clearly written, informative chapters. This book serves as the record of the joint exhibit of The Corning Museum of Glass and The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, but the language and presentation will make it accessible to the lay researcher and a general audience who want to learn more about mosaics in the context of architectural preservation. The researchers’ attention to detail is evident in the chronology of mosaics compiled by Morgan T. Albahary that includes a description of each known item as well as its status as lost or extant.
The book begins with a helpful discussion about mosaic as an art form and how Tiffany came to be so interested in glass mosaic. Tiffany’s artistic and intellectual influences are detailed in narrative and visual form, showing examples of how his knowledge of classical styles informed his designs. Jennifer Perry Thalheimer’s chapter on the “mosaic trail” provides an informative discussion of Tiffany’s promotion of mosaic as an architectural element relevant to new trends in construction. While the text emphasizes Tiffany as a visionary, consideration is also given to the artisans that carried out his plans, with a full chapter on mosaic designer Jacob Adolphus Holzer. Descriptions and evidence of the critical reception of major pieces shown at national and international exhibitions provide the scope of Tiffany’s impact on visual culture. The researchers provide well-argued and illustrated examples of Tiffany mosaics found in churches, commercial settings, public buildings, and private homes.
The book is handsomely laid out, with lush images set in proximity to their discussion. The images and text blocks are set off with plenty of blank space so that reading is pleasurable. This book should be acquired by academic libraries and public libraries that collect in arts and United States visual culture.