Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection
By David A. Hanks

In addition to copy-editing the catalogue as a whole, my editorial contributions include writing and editing the Director’s Preface and “Preserving Tiffany: A Collector’s Vision” by philanthropist, collector, and Driehaus Museum founder Richard H. Driehaus.

The roots of my Tiffany collection–my interpretation of what the artist and designer called the “quest of beauty”–can be traced back to the early 1970s. As a new collector, I focused on nineteenth-century posters for my apartment and for future use in a new home. Gradually my interests expanded to include works by Tiffany. I became a collector of lamps, windows, and vases, enjoying their beauty as well as the simple pleasure of owning, preserving, and eventually sharing them with others.

I am not just in search of masterpieces or rare works. Instead, I pursue an object that strikes me as arresting, with powerful imagery, a sense of drama, and rich, vibrant colors.

I am always on the lookout for great works of art by Tiffany. When lit well,  a stained-glass window can be incredibly powerful. Because light is transmitted through glass and not reflected off it, the window glows in a way a canvas never can. The light shifting within the various layers of glass has a soulful quality unmatched in other media. It creates a greater intimacy between the object and observer.

Thanks to the wide exposure and critical acclaim Tiffany received at the [World’s Columbian] Exposition, [Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company] won a number of important commissions in Chicago. As David Hanks describes in his essay, these include the mosaic frieze in the superbly restored Marquette Building atrium, the so-called Tiffany Dome, actually vaulting, at Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) at State Street, the magnificent glass dome at the Chicago Cultural Center (originally the Chicago Public Library), and the stained glass dome at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Fullerton Hall.

I collect with a passion for preservation, purchasing works that inspire, are significant historically, or represent an important piece of Chicago.

Opened in 2008, the [Driehaus Museum] perfectly unifies my twin passions for architectural preservation and the decorative arts. … The galleries, formerly the grand rooms in which the families entertained, illustrate the type of environment one might have experienced firsthand during the Gilded Age, with a Chickering & Sons piano, Tiffany fireplace screens, lamps, and Pre-Raphaelite Victorian paintings.

My first experience of visiting the restored building with the collections so carefully arranged was unforgettable and yet indescribable. It is this very ineffability that makes it truly special. The space is somewhat like a book one reads slowly while cherishing every moment spent inside the story.


–Excerpts from “Preservating Tiffany: A Collector’s Vision,” Richard H. Driehaus, Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection (The Monacelli Press, 2013).

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