Louis Comfort Tiffany
1848-1933 | American
The Alhambra, Granada
Gouache, watercolor and pencil on paper
Louis Comfort Tiffany was one of the greatest artistic minds in American history. The son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, the founder of Tiffany & Co., Tiffany possessed the financial means to pursue his art freely, and throughout his life he explored virtually every decorative medium, from glass to jewelry to pottery. Yet, it was painting that was his first artistic passion; in lieu of joining the family business as a jeweler, he initially set out to become a painter. Capturing the famed Moorish arches of the Alhambra in Granada, this original gouache is a stunning example of this legendary artist's foray into the fine arts.
Research by the art historian Dr. Roberta A. Mayer reveals the work is based upon an important composition entitled The Alhambra, Granada: Entrance to the Hall of the Sisters (Musée du Louvre) by the French artist Henri Regnault. Dr. Mayer contends that Tiffany almost certainly composed his gouache during his 1874 visit to Paris, and it truly captures the essence of Regnault's original work. In 1876, as part of his travels through Algeria and Spain, Tiffany visited the famed arches that he captured so eloquently in the present composition; this encounter with the Alhambra sparked a period of new creativity that reverberated throughout his decorative work, including an 1879 "Moresque" salon that he designed for New York pharmaceutical millionaire George Kemp. Tiffany would again return to the Alhambra later in his career in 1911, sparking yet another period of creative design.*
By the late 1870s, Tiffany largely turned his attention away from painting to the decorative arts, beginning his experiments in glass that would make him a legend of his generation. Yet, he never completely gave up his pursuit of painting, revisiting his oils and watercolors throughout his lifetime, and particularly in his later years during his retirement. To find one of his works is a rarity; they are highly coveted by both collectors of American art and Tiffany enthusiasts.
Paper: 14 3/8" high x 11 3/8" wide
Frame: 24 1/4" high x 18 3/4" wide
Roberta A. Mayer, “Kindred Spirits: Louis Comfort Tiffany and Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida,” in Sorolla in America: Friends and Patrons, José Luis Colomer, Blanca Pons-Sorolla, and Mark Roglán, eds. Madrid: Center for Spain in America in collaboration with the Meadows Museum, 2015, 294-319.