October 31, 2014

Florida Life

Getaways: Revisiting Dali . . . and Tiffany

The new Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg and the expanded Morse Museum in Winter Park give viewers a broad, serious look at artists who cycled through household fame, critical disdain and now a return to serious respect.

Chris Sherman | 3/1/2011

... And Tiffany

Hanging globe
Hanging globe, c. 1904-10, brown glass, millefiori [Photo: The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art]
In Winter Park, the Morse Museum is a jewel box of an adult attraction on the quiet end of Park Avenue, light years from Disney World.

The original building is vault-like and should be; the thick walls provide dark and cool spaces to be illuminated by Tiffany's gleaming glass and glittering mosaics.

The dragonfly lamps are here, far more beautiful than his imitators, yet they pale in comparison to the colors and skill in his windows, pottery, jewelry or his first love, painting and photos. Tiffany was fascinated by natural asymmetry in the stained glass and in his garden themes, but it's easy and surprising to see influences of Japanese woodcuts, exotic Persia as well as the Arts and Crafts Movement and later Art Nouveau.

"His work was far more than art that lights up,'' says director Laurence Ruggiero. Tiffany shared the passion for beauty that animated Proust, Klimt and other artists in the ferment of the very young 20th century, and he expressed it in many forms.

The museum's new wing recaptures the varied works of Laurelton Hall, the monumental rococo estate that Tiffany built on Long Island as a home museum and artist colony. When it burned down in 1957, Hugh and Jeannette McKean of Winter Park rescued the most salvageable pieces and brought them to Winter Park.

Among them was a small ornate chapel of Byzantine glass and tile Tiffany had designed for the 1893 fair in Chicago, later installed in a New York church, then his home and now in the Morse.

Spring
"Spring" from Tiffany's "Four Seasons" window, c. 1899-1900 [Photo: The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art ]
In the past 10 years, crews of curators, conservators, ironworkers and marble workers have restored much of the dining room, fireplace, rugs, lamps and most magnificently Laurelton's "Daffodil Terrace" (first exhibited by the Morse in the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 2006).

Ruggiero hopes that the Laurelton collection demonstrates that Tiffany unified art, craft and life in his home in an expression of beauty that fulfilled the spirit.

Both the Dali and the Morse make charming, intriguing destinations for weekend trips and, thanks to remarkably diligent patrons, safe places where the precious works of two very different 20th century masters can live on.

Tags: Dining & Travel

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