The Dream Garden Notecards
Located in the foyer of the former home of the Curtis Publishing Company at 601–46 Walnut Street (built in 1910), Dream Garden was designed by Parrish, a Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts alumnus, and constructed by the Tiffany Studios in New York. Experts have noted that what makes it so unique—and impossible to remove without damage—is its manufacture. The mosaic is comprised of over one hundred thousand pieces of glass tesserae called “favrile,” a derivation of the Old Saxon word for “handmade.” Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933) believed he had invented a wholly new art form using glass exposed to the fumes of molten metals to develop an iridescent appearance. The mosaic took an estimated thirty craftspeople over a year to blow, cut, and assemble; the traditional method of patterning tiles of uniform size was reinvented in favor of painstakingly hand cutting each piece to approximate the free-flowing brushwork. In some cases, the glass artisans hand-painted the tiles and backed them with gold leaf to add additional shimmer. Under the supervision of artistic director Joseph Briggs (1873–1937), Dream Garden was constructed of twenty-four separate panels and is thought to weigh upwards of seven and a half tons.
Appearing as an idyllic landscape presented behind a faux stone balustrade, Dream Garden apparently resulted from a genuine dream experienced by Parrish. When failing to acknowledge any deeper symbolic meaning to an appreciative public, he noted with irritation: “It doesn’t mean an earthly thing, not even a ghost of an allegory . . . the endeavor is to present a painting which will give pleasure without trying intellect—something beautiful to look upon . . . nothing more.”
Boxed set of 12 notecards and 12 envelopes