Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) was born in New York City, where his father Charles ran Tiffany & Co., the famous jewelry store. The younger Tiffany first studied painting with George Inness and Samuel Colman, but soon developed a taste for a wider variety of media. In 1879 he and some colleagues opened Associated Artists, a firm of craftsmen and -women who became well-known for designing or redecorating the interiors of the homes of famous Americans such as Cornelius Vanderbilt and Mark Twain; in 1882 they refurbished several rooms in the White House.
In the mid-1880s, Tiffany left Associated Artists to focus on his glass work. He incorporated his own business, later known as Tiffany Studios, in 1885. He specialized in glass which incorporated chemicals to achieve certain effects, as well as physical manipulation of the molten glass, rather than relying on painted surfaces as most decorated glass had done previously. At its peak, the studio employed more than 300 artisans, creating a workforce capable of producing great numbers of objects—stained glass windows and lamps, mosaics, enamels, and ceramics among them. This enlarged production capability, along with his celebrated designs and his innovations in technique, allowed him to become the preeminent decorator of elegant homes as well as churches and synagogues and other public buildings.