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A Passion for Peacocks

peacock plumage wcaptionPeacock feathers were a favorite design motif of Louis C. Tiffany, who revisited this theme countless times in both his personal life and professional career. Tiffany was so captivated by these exotic creatures that he kept peacocks at Laurelton Hall, his country estate on Long Island, and showcased their colorful plumage at many of his lavish parties. At his legendary Egyptian Fete, Tiffany’s daughter Julia wore a vibrant peacock headdress (now in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York) as part of her ornate costume. Tiffany even hosted a Peacock Feast at Laurelton Hall to honor 150 “men of genius,” where his daughters and their friends theatrically paraded around carrying stuffed peacocks on silver platters.1

The peacock’s beauty has both religious and secular appeal. As the Christian symbol of eternal life, the peacock was particularly well-suited for Tiffany’s ecclesiastical commissions, such as this glass mosaic reredos in Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Baltimore.2 Tiffany’s artisans translated the motif into virtually all of the firm’s decorative mediums – including leaded glass windows and lampshades, glass mosaic, blown glass vessels, enamelware, metalwork, and jewelry.

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