John La Farge: Peacock Window

Peacock Window, 1892-1908

American, 1835-1910
Peacock Window, 1892-1908
Stained Glass
Museum purchase

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At the time when America was emerging as a force in the international art world, La Farge stood out as a versatile artist and designer working in a variety of media. His extraordinary range as a student of world culture and as a muralist, painter, and designer led to his collaboration with leading American architects. Characteristically, when he first turned his attention to stained glass in the late 1870s, he showed remarkable stylistic and technical freedom in this difficult material.

The Peacock Window, which simulates the vibrant coloration of a magnificent, exotic bird, represents La Farge's final effort in fused, or cloisonné, glass. Begun in 1892 as one of a pair of windows for the Washington, D.C., home of John Hay, the piece was not presented to the client, apparently because of difficulties encountered in the successive firings required to fuse layers of glass. Instead La Farge provided Hay with a window of the same design made of more conventional leaded opalescent glass (now at Museum Stuck-Villa in Munich). Several years later the artist returned to his original concept to produce this window.