Abbot Suger, the 12th-century patron of stained glass, believed that light was the portal to heaven. On completion of his Gothic masterwork, the abbey church of Saint Denis, he wrote: “Through palpable, visible beauty, the soul is elevated to that which is truly beautiful.”
In the late 19th century, Louis Comfort Tiffany transmuted the stained-glass aesthetic with opalescence, jewel-like colors and sinuous, sensual forms best known today in his opulent lamps and painterly leaded-glass windows. Then came the modernist master Frank Lloyd Wright, creating more than 4,000 of his bold, geometric “light screens” simply to imbue his interiors with warm, autumnal light.
Here, we present six extravagant yet elegant homes in which stained glass reveals its many moods. First among them is the Ayer Mansion in Boston, Massachusetts—the last remaining home designed by Tiffany himself.
And so, nearly 1,000 years after Abbot Suger’s masterwork, the beauty of stained glass still captures the imagination, but its use and value have found more earthly realms.