Scene on Campus

Through a glass, still darkly

The Tiffany window in Linsly-Chit.

Generations of Yale students, when they needed a break from the life of the mind, have found distraction in this Louis Comfort Tiffany window. Its earnest allegorical figures - including Art, Science, Harmony, Imagination, and, at the center, “Light/Love/Life” - have presided over this room since 1890, when it was dedicated as the main reading room of the new university library. Today the room is 102 Linsly-Chittenden Hall, the principal lecture theater of the English department. Here, any number of students with short attention spans have become familiar with Tiffany's work.

Mark Morosse

Mark Morosse

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During Yale's lean years in the second half of the last century, the window was neglected and its colors were grayed by layers of soot and dirt. The original rich palette, achieved by mixing various chemical concoctions into the molten glass, was partly restored by a cleaning in 1998. The window is due for re-leading and further cleaning in the next decade, an operation that could cost a quarter of a million dollars. But after all, major Tiffany windows can sell at auction for $2 million. And Bill Cummings, a stained-glass expert who evaluated the window for Yale, calls it “one of the very finest of Tiffany's.”

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