In 1883 a Tiffany and Company representative wrote to Secretary of State Frederick T. Frelinghuysen on behalf of Antonio Salviati, a well-known Venetian maker of mosaics and art glass. The letter stated that Salviati wished to donate a specially made mosaic memorial portrait of President Garfield to the United States. The portrait had been designed as a companion piece to an existing portrait of Abraham Lincoln, which was given to Congress in 1866 by the same firm. Following temporary exhibition in Boston at an arts and industries fair, the Garfield mosaic was formally accepted by a concurrent resolution in May 1884.
Salviati, whose manufacturing company was largely responsible for the rebirth of Venetian glasswork during the late 1800s, created mosaics in a medieval style that found favor among designers of buildings and memorials. In London, Salviati’s mosaic murals were installed in the Albert Memorial at Kensington Gardens, and in the cupola of St. Paul’s Cathedral. In the United States, Salviati mosaics decorate the church and the museum on the campus of Stanford University in California.