Louis Comfort Tiffany was the most important master of decorative arts in America at the turn of the 20th century. He was one of the first industrial designers to combine fine art and functional utility in his creations. Tiffany was obsessed with perfection and excellence, ideals he pursued in his quest for a luxurious aesthetic. A gifted painter, architect, and designer, he is best known as America’s premier glass artist. Tiffany and the artisans in his studios produced stained glass windows and lamps, tableware, mosaics, and jewelry. His legacy in Cleveland includes glass inlaid fireplace surrounds in both public buildings and private homes.
The prominent architectural firm of Benjamin Hubbell and Dominick Benes was well known in early twentieth century Cleveland. Designers of the West Side Market and Citizens Building, they are probably best known for the Wade Memorial Chapel in Lakeview cemetery that features a decorative interior designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It can be no surprise that museum founders looked to Hubbell & Benes to design the art museum. Having worked closely with Tiffany on the design of the Wade chapel, they turned to the firm to design the museum’s interior finishes but although a number of light fixtures were included, other decorative designs were not executed.
Hubbell & Benes also commissioned Tiffany to design a marble and glass mosaic fireplace for their offices in the Citizens Building that greeted clients in the main room. These offices were later occupied by the Premier Farnell Corporation who donated the fireplace surround to the art museum through Morton L. Mandel. It now graces the archives and special collections reading room in the Ingalls Library. Stop by on your next visit and take advantage of the many extras the library offers. Browse our extensive collection of journals, enjoy a cup of coffee in the comfortable book reading room, and engage with our knowledgeable staff.