Did you know that Tulane University owns the largest collection of Tiffany stained glass windows in Louisiana? In total, there are nine windows on campus, including the two monumental works that flank the entrance to the Newcomb Art Museum and the two “Art” and “Literature” windows still hanging in their original location in Tilton Memorial Hall.
Tiffany glass refers to the varied types of stained glass developed and produced by artist Louis Comfort Tiffany in the late 1800s. Inspired by ancient Roman and Syrian glass, Tiffany glass utilizes both ancient techniques, as well as methods Tiffany invented himself. Operating from 1878 to 1933, Tiffany glass is still revered as some of the most sophisticated stained glass that exists.
Many of the windows at Tulane are memorial windows, a popular philanthropic gesture among the wealthy during the early 20th century in which works were commissioned in the memory of a person who had passed. The first windows to come to Newcomb were commissioned by Josephine Newcomb in honor of her daughter Sophie, for whom Newcomb College was also named, and hung in the Newcomb Chapel at the original Newcomb College Garden District campus.
When Newcomb College moved to the Uptown campus in 1918, the windows were placed in storage with the intention of displaying them in a new chapel yet to be built. However, the chapel’s construction was delayed and the windows were forgotten about in storage for over fifty years. These missing windows were found – carefully packed but slightly damaged– under the football stadium in the 1970s. Fortunately, the University was preparing to build a new non-denominational chapel in honor of Newcomb alumnae at the time of their discovery and were thus able to conserve and install five of the Tiffany windows in the new building.