Art Gallery of South Australia: Angel of Faith and River of Life Windows

The only Tiffany & Co. windows in Australia can be found in the Art Gallery of South Australia. American-born Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Tiffany & Company's founder Charles Lewis Tiffany, is widely regarded as one of the leading figures of the decorative arts and the Art Noveau movement. He is credited with revolutionising the stained glass window industry in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

The Angel of Faith and River of Life windows were designed and produced by the Tiffany Studios in New York City in 1909. The windows were commissioned by Ada Ayers as a memorial to her late husband, Henry (Harry) Lockett Ayers, and six of their eight children. The windows were installed in St Paul's Church on Pulteney Street on 12 December 1909. When the church was decommissioned in the 1980s, the windows were moved several times to locations across the city. For 15 years they were located in Pulteney Grammar School's Chapel. In 2001, they were donated to the Art Gallery.

The Angel of Faith window was dedicated to Ada's husband, Harry Lockett Ayers, son of well-known South Australian politician, Sir Henry Ayers. The angel at the top of the window is shown parting the clouds, representing the safe ascension of Harry's soul into Heaven. This window also features Tiffany's famous opalescent glass, which was patented by the company in 1881.

The River of Life window was dedicated to six of Harry and Ada's children who died during childhood. The children are symbolised by the six cherubic faces that peek out at the apex of the window. Other religious iconography can be found in this window, including the poppies growing along the riverbank (representing death and Resurrection), the palm (symbolic of the circle of life), the palm fronds (symbolic of spiritual growth), and the river (representing cleansing).

The multiple plating of the glass of both windows enables the appearance of tone and manipulates the entrance of light. The copper dividing each pane is also believed to enhance the composition of each piece.



Art Gallery of South Australia, North Terrace, Adelaide ~ The Tiffany windows are on display in Gallery 18. The Art Gallery of South Australia is open daily from 10.00am-5.00pm.