Replicating Louis Tiffany’s Masterpiece

Replicating Louis Tiffany’s masterpiece can be a challenging thing. This next illustration for the children’s book “Lights On!” illustrates Ike and Samuel walking down the Cross Hall as it might have looked in 1890. The problem is, there’s only 3 grainy photos I was able to find of the Cross Hall and the famed Tiffany glass partition that separated the Cross Hall from the entry way. In 1904, Theodore Roosevelt remodeled the White House and one of the things he did was have the stained glass wall removed in order to open up the space.

preliminary-steps

In order to make this illustration, I employed several tricks. First, I roughed up a generic point of view in my thumbnail sketches. Even though in this piece the vanishing points are really close together (much closer than would be in reality) I loved the gaping, cavernous feel it gave, so I kept the original perspective from my thumbnail sketches. (I tried a version where I “corrected” the placement of the vanishing points, and found the image to be too boring). I then gridded everything out and I aligned the columns, windows, and ceiling tiling in the grid.

Then, on a separate sheet of graph paper, I drew out the stained glass design as best as I could approximate. In Adobe Illustrator, I created a ceiling design based upon one of the photos I had. I took the flat stained glass design and ceiling design and digitally warped and fit them into my gridded perspective drawing. This was then all traced on board. For my underpainting, I separated the light areas and the shadow areas first, and then I proceeded to paint the detail inside of both. Believe me, the detail was as arduous as it looks. I labored over it, because I wanted it to have a wow factor at the end.

By the time I finished, seven days later, the paint on my palette had pretty much all dried up and my detail brushes were all shot. But, in the end, I think it’s worth it.

PS. I did not do enough research to know where the stained glass ended up, I’m guessing it’s in a museum somewhere. If you know, feel free to send me an email.

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