The European and American Decorative Art Gallery of the University of Michigan Museum of Art is showcasing its collection of Tiffany Studios decorative objects.
In 1879, Tiffany established the interior design firm Associated Artists, which considered everything in the well-to-do home—from fixtures and floors to woodwork and wallpaper—to be a design opportunity. One of Tiffany’s most ambitious and impressive “total environments” was the design of the interiors of the Havemeyer House in New York City, the residence of sugar magnate Henry O. Havemeyer (1847–1907) and his wife, Louisine. The Havemeyers counted many artists among their friends, including Mary Cassatt and Tiffany, and were inveterate collectors of contemporary fine and decorative art, particularly 19th-century French paintings and Tiffany glass. When the Havemeyers and their collections outgrew their original home in Manhattan, they built a larger home on the corner of Fifth Avenue and East 66th Street. Beginning in 1888, Tiffany and one of his Associated Artists partners, Samuel Colman, created a sumptuous Asian-Near Eastern-medieval-inspired design program throughout the house that greeted visitors from the moment they passed through the magnificent entryway doors. It was completed over four years.
Those incredible doors, along with a wealth of other Tiffany pieces from the Havemeyer house—including opulent glass, metal work, a luminous chandelier and decorative objects—are now on display on the second floor of the Museum’s historic wing.