DescriptionJANE PETERSON (American 1876-1965)
Louis Comfort Tiffany's Garden, c. 1911
Oil on original unlined canvas
18 x 14 inches (45.7 x 35.6 cm)
Signed lower right: Jane Peterson
This marvelously spontaneous plein-air painting records both a significant artistic friendship between two American artists as well as a magnificent garden which is no longer in existence. The friendship is that of American designer Louis Comfort Tiffany and the American painter Jane Peterson, while the landscape records a view of Tiffany's extraordinary country estate Laurelton Hall, built in Oyster Bay, New York, between 1902 and 1905. He embarked on the design for this ambitious fully integrated work of art at the height of his career, which had already seen the development of a successful design firm and the production of artwork in a wide variety of mediums--leaded-glass windows, blown-glass vases, enamelwork, lighting, jewelry, and pottery. The generous inheritance Tiffany received on the death of his father, Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812-1902), the founder of Tiffany and Company, the enormously successful jewelry and silver firm that still thrives, allowed the fifty-four-year-old artist to think on a grand scale. The resulting house, with eighty-four rooms on eight levels, was carefully sited on a rise amidst nearly six hundred acres on Long Island's North Shore and afforded panoramic views of Long Island Sound. Although Tiffany moved into Laurelton in 1905, he continued to alter and enhance both the house and the gardens in the following years. The evolving designs affirmed his belief that a work of art is never finished. One of the most significant changes Tiffany made ten years after Laurelton Hall was completed was the addition of the Daffodil Terrace, a structure made up of exotic elements that united the house and the gardens.
According to the account of Tiffany's chauffeur, James Ryan, the American painter Jane Peterson may have assisted with the painting of the stenciled cedar planks in the elaborate Moorish-inspired ceiling of the exotic Daffodil terrace structures. After graduating from Pratt Institute and beginning a teaching career, Peterson studied with Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956) in London in 1907 and two years later with Sorolla in Spain, both of whom had artistic associations with Tiffany. When traveling with Sorolla to New York after March 1911, Peterson met Tiffany, who invited her to spend several months at Laurelton Hall painting views of the house and gardens. The current work dates from this period. One of her works, Turkish Fountain with Garden (from Louis C. Tiffany Estate, Laurelton Hall, Oyster Bay) depicts the Daffodil Terrace. Tiffany's invitation to Peterson presaged the spirit of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, which he founded to support artists in residence at Laurelton in 1918.
Interestingly, the present painting makes no reference to any of the exotic, richly-embellished architectural elements of Tiffany's garden, and is unspecific in its vantage point. Rather, it celebrates the fresh beauty of the vegetation itself, and is quite modern in its conscious avoidance of the overtly picturesque.
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