Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) was one of America's most acclaimed and multitalented artists working in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During his nearly fifty-year career, from the 1870s through the 1920s, Tiffany embraced virtually every artistic and decorative medium, designing and directing the production of artistic windows, mosaics, lighting, glass vases, pottery metalwork, enamels, jewelry, and interiors. The son of Charles L. Tiffany—who was the scion of the eponymous New York jewelry and silver firm—Louis Tiffany painted throughout his lifetime. Beginning in the late 1870s, however, he turned his attention to decorative work, saying, "There is more in it than in painting pictures."
Of all of Tiffany's artistic endeavors, stained glass brought him the greatest recognition. Tiffany and his early rival John La Farge revolutionized the look of stained glass. Prior to their involvement in the medium, the craft had remained essentially the same since medieval times, utilizing flat panes of white and colored glass with details of ornament, modeling, light, and shadow painted on the panes with either enamels or dark opaque glass paints, and then fired before leading. Both Tiffany and La Farge experimented with new types of glass and achieved a more varied palette with richer hues and greater density. By 1881, each had patented an opalescent glass, a unique American phenomenon, which had a milky, opaque, and sometimes rainbow-hued appearance when light shone through it. Internally colored with variegated shades of the same or different hues, Tiffany's Favrile glass enabled artists to substitute random tonal gradations, lines, textures, and densities inherent in the material itself for the pictorial details usually painted onto the glass. Tiffany's workshops would go on to design and fabricate literally thousands of leaded-glass windows for churches, mausoleums, schools, and other buildings across the country and abroad.