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April 17, 1999|By Philip E. Bishop Sentinel Correspondent

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WINTER PARK – Like a archetype ascent a additional time from the ashes, the Tiffany Abbey is actuality reborn.

Although restorers and conservators are still installing the aftermost pieces, the adequate 800-square-foot abbey opens to the accessible today at the Charles Hosmer Morse Building of American Art.

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In its aboriginal life, as a pavilion at the 1893 Columbian Account in Chicago, the abbey admiring added than a actor visitors and helped accompany its creator, Louis Comfort Tiffany, all-embracing acclaim as a maker of adorning bottle and busy interiors.

The Morse Museum’s accession re-creates the abbey with all the actual pieces: a awe-inspiring white marble chantry inlaid with mother-of-pearl, set adjoin a abundantly busy marble bank and affected by abbreviating arches and aphotic columns covered in mosaic. In a ancillary alcove is the huge egg-shaped baptismal font, and aerial hangs the massive electrified chandelier that won an account badge for announcement electric power.

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The Morse has installed four stained-glass windows from the 1893 Account aural the abbey and two others in a vestibule.

Most of the chapel’s debris were rescued by building founders Jeannette and Hugh McKean in 1959 from the burned-out blob of Tiffany’s Long Island mansion. The museum’s painstaking, 21/2-year apology realizes the McKeans’ appetite to charm this different Tiffany design.

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Although visitors to the Chicago account were reportedly addled by the chapel, today’s visitors can admit Tiffany’s aboriginal masterpiece as an able admixture of spirituality, advancement and commercialism. As Morse administrator Laurence Ruggiero credibility out, the aboriginal abbey was absolutely an advertisement for the new ecclesiastical administration of Tiffany’s workshop. Tiffany was acquisitive the pavilion would boom up business from churches and patrons.

And although the abbey advertised the adorning accomplishment of Tiffany’s branch artisans in glass, circuitous and inlaid gems, some of its elements were complete of adhesive and wood, abstracts that Tiffany could never accept accepted to aftermost a century.

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The apology is a celebration not alone over the chapel’s a aition but additionally over the brittle and brief abstracts that bore its adorned beauty.

Until all the circuitous columns are in place, Morse visitors can see the busy plywood abutment arrangement that building agents associates accept congenital to adhere the arches. The columns won’t absolutely abutment anything, and apparently didn’t in the aboriginal Chicago installation, although Ruggiero acknowledges that conservators absolutely accept no abstraction how the abbey was originally installed. There is not alike a photograph of the account version, alone a bite commissioned by Tiffany.

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In ample part, the Morse’s apology absolutely mimics the chapel’s agreement as Louis Tiffany himself adequate it at his estate, Laurelton Hall. In 1916, Tiffany had bought aback the abbey from the Abbey of St. John the Divine in New York, area it had been clumsily rebuilt in a basement crypt.

At the Morse, a barrel-vaulted beam terminates in walls that columnist in on the viewer, deepening the awe-inspiring consequence of chantry and arches. One bank opens into the baptistery, which is backed by a black bottle arena of lilies and classical columns.

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The added windows, installed aloft the eyewitness as in a Gothic-style church, appearance scenes of “Christ Blessing the Evangelists” and “The Story of the Cross.” The windows are aboriginal successes in one of Tiffany’s artful missions – to balance the medieval ability of authoritative pictures in leaded glass. In the admiring words of Hugh McKean, from his 1980 book The `Lost’ Treasures of Louis Comfort Tiffany, actuality “Tiffany is cerebration in glass.”

It charge be said, though, that Tiffany’s borrowing from actual styles was consistently accessory to his artful aims, and the aftereffect is article of an all-embracing mishmash. The chapel’s massive abbreviating arches – fabricated to attending like carved bean – advance the aperture of a Romanesque church, but a medieval artist would never accept active such arches to anatomy an altar.

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The clearest antecedent, Ruggiero explains, is the admirable circuitous adornment of Byzantine-era churches like the Abbey of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy. Tiffany’s chantry and the baptismal dome, anniversary austerely busy with religious adumbration adjoin a white marble background, both arm-twist the adherent accuracy of the Byzantine style.

Most amazing of all is the bottle circuitous reredos, or chantry screen, that shows two peacocks captivation a agglomeration of grapes, below a amphibian acme of heaven. The peacock is a Christian attribute of immortality, but it additionally the absolute accountable for the adorning appetites of late-19th-century aestheticism. Actuality are the affluent variations of blush and abundant surfaces that would accomplish Tiffany’s hand-blown “favrile” bottle the accepted accouterment of a Gilded Age interior.

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