Louis Comfort Tiffany meets Maxfield Parrish in a one-of-a-kind creation
In the lobby of a somber office building that flanks Washington Square lies an unexpected treasure: the astounding Dream Garden – a 15 × 49-foot mosaic of more than 100,000 pieces of favrile glass. Color and light, masterfully combined by the studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany, bring to life the luminous vision of Philadelphia native Maxfield Parrish, who created the painting on which the mosaic was based.
The brilliantly hued work was commissioned by Cyrus Curtis, publisher of The Saturday Evening Post, to grace his empire’s new marble and pillar fortified headquarters. The work has been displayed since 1916 as an integral part of the Curtis Center’s historically certified lobby, yet few people know of its existence. Those who find it – either deliberately or not – are never disappointed.
One of only three such works ever undertaken by Tiffany Studios, the piece is comprised of 24 panels that took six months to install in its Philadelphia setting. In 1998, after the piece was put up for sale and casino magnate Steve Wynn attempted to purchase it, a citywide outcry nixed the deal, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts purchased its alumnus’ famous Dream Garden to make sure it would remain where it has always been.
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Set behind a placid fountain and a marble balustrade, the mural almost looks like a vista in some imaginary pastoral land, making it a great spot for taking a sightseeing break from Independence National Historical Park, just across the street.
Challenge kids to see how many shades of purple, orange, blue, and pink they can find. (All told, there are 260 colors represented in the mosaic).
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