Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Tiffany Chapel

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, (445 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789) Was open to the public for free on Christmas Eve. Guards in the museum seemed more relaxed. The guard in the Tiffany Chapel expressed how mush she liked seeing me work on the sketch.

In 1893 Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibited the chapel interior at the World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago that brought him international acclaim few American artists enjoyed at the time. The chapel demonstrated the firm’s artistry and craftsmanship in producing ecclesiastical goods ranging from clerical vestments and furnishings to mosaics and leaded-glass windows. It so moved visitors at the time, that men removed their hats in response. The woman seated in front of me kept her bonnet on for the duration.

The ornate chapel is Byzantine in design, built up from simple classical forms, columns, and arches, which are huge in size relative to the chapel’s intimate space (1,082 square feet). When the World's Fair was over, the chapel was brought to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in NYC. It was kept  is a squat basement crypt and was then ignored when the choir was completed upstairs. Unchecked water damage took it's toll, and in 1916 Tiffany offered to remove the chapel at his own expense. It was reinstalled and restored at Tiffany's own Lauriston Hall Estate.

Tiffany died on January 17, 1933. In 1957, Tiffany's abandoned estate was ravaged by fire. Hugh and Jeannette McKean of Winter Park, Florida, were notified by a Tiffany daughter that some of his most important leaded-glass windows were still intact. They visited the devastated Laurelton Hall site, and Jeannette decided they should buy all of the mansion’s then-unwanted windows and architectural fragments. Two years later the McKeans purchased the components of the chapel that remained at Laurelton Hall.

A team of architecture, art, and conservation experts were assembled to begin the more than two-year project of reassembling the chapel. The chapel opened to the public in April 1999, the first time since it was open at the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago. It is a rare gem in the heart of Winter Park.

Catherine Hineman wrote: This year, because Christmas Eve falls on a Monday, we will have a holiday weekend open house just prior to Christmas Eve. That’s two days of free admission to the one and there will be live music on Sunday. This only happens every seven years or so, but it is always confusing to a few who have made the December 24 open house a tradition.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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