This extremely important window designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany was premiered at the Columbian Exposition in 1893, Chicago, Ill. Greatly regarded by Tiffany, he chose to install it permanently in his Long Island estate, Laurelton Hall, completed in 1905, which housed many of his most notable works. After a devastating fire that destroyed the estate in 1957, this window was one of many important objects purchased by Hugh and Jeanette McKean for their collection known today as The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art located in Winter Park, Fl. The window was then repaired as a result of the extensive damage it suffered in the fire. Much of the upper third of the window had been “re-created” with glass not matching Tiffany’s original glass and lead lines were added that compromised the original design. The replacement columns were cut visually lowering the upward thrust of the original design. Numerous lead flanges were added to hide cracks throughout the window. The original hanging fishbowl was replaced with a modern colorful piece of glass, resulting in the elimination of another natural element important to this composition.
In 2010 the Morse Museum undertook the construction of a major new wing to house their artifacts from Laurelton Hall. Our restoration prepared this window for inclusion in this new gallery. With original material gone unnoticed during the earlier repair, this “information” was our guide to recreate missing areas and return the window to Tiffany’s design. The columns were brought back to their original height, glass was fabricated to match existing original marble-patterned background glass, and a new support system designed for the tiled floor so the obtrusive vertical steel supports and repair lead flanges which were later added, could be removed. Our interpretation of the original fishbowl was created and a photo-shopped illustration showing the fishbowl in place was presented to the Morse Museum for consideration as part of this latest reconstruction. However, the museum has chosen to retain the former colorful glass.