Windows to the nation
August 30, 2005
Two rare pieces of stained glass collected by an Aspen resident are about to go on tour to several national fine arts museums.The two windows were made in the 1880s by Louis C. Tiffany, whose heyday of glasswork production included fine windows and lamps from the 1880s to the early 1900s. Aspen collector Carl Heck has been specializing in Tiffany’s work for the past 15 years.”I love the hunt of rare items, and I’ve been all over the world, traveling extensively to find them,” Heck said.
Exhibitions International will pick up the two windows today, packing them carefully into crates to be taken to Denver, where light boxes will be made to shine through the artwork.From Denver, they will spend two years traveling the United States, with stops in Seattle; Dallas; Toledo, Ohio; and Pittsburgh.The windows are part of a four-piece set of ocean scenes that Tiffany made to represent the four seasons. Heck said he acquired all four of the windows several decades ago at a Sotheby’s auction “before Tiffany windows had much value or were collectible.” He sold all four windows at an auction in the ’80s, and they were split into pairs.
Since selling them, Heck has been trying to track down all four windows. He found the representations of spring and summer last year. He does not know where the fall and winter windows are.”Certain rare Tiffany windows and lamps sell for millions of dollars,” he said. “The stained glass done specifically by Tiffany studios are like the Rolls-Royces of stained glass.”Heck’s ocean scene window of spring includes jellyfish and sea anemones, and his summer window has starfish and shellfish in it. Each one is a cross-section below and above the waterline – he said in the winter scene depicts icebergs floating atop the ocean. Each window is 5 1/2 feet tall and 2 feet wide.
At one time they were shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City – the museum was the consignor of the pieces when Heck first bought them years ago at auction. Heck has lived in Aspen since 1970. He said 90 percent of the items he collects with his own business, Carl Heck Decorative Arts, sells to out-of-towners.Over the years he has sold items from the Vanderbilt, Coors and Firestone mansions. He currently has one of just four Tiffany peacock lamps, which he estimates is worth about $200,000. A Tiffany mermaid-themed window from 1899 has traveled to Japan, New York and Los Angeles to be displayed.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org