The extraordinary variation in the glass selection for the present offering demonstrates Tiffany’s refined skills as a colorist and glass-maker. In the Grape chandelier, a broad range of glass innovations are showcased, including passages of fractured glass, ring-mottled glass and streamer glass. The fractured and streamer glass tiles especially heighten the artistic representation of the grapevine motif, with passages depicting the delicate curl of the plant’s leaves and vines, as well as the impressionistic changes in coloration of the fruit.
The vine trellis displays vigorously mottled glass in an unusual pale blue-grey with deep burgundy tones. The mottling evokes a weathered trellis from which the vines rest and intertwine. The subtle coloration of the trellis glass complements the nuanced progression of the fruit ranging from deep violet and cobalt tones to luminous magenta and red grapes. Tiffany’s interest in portraying change and temporality within nature is shown through this thoughtful, impressionistic glass selection. Ultimately, this offering evokes the slow transformation of the grape during the harvest season through a skillful and sensitive interpretation, highlighting luminous color and diverse textures to achieve a harmonious composition.
Tiffany’s glass was a medium ripe for capturing unique portrayals of abstracted natural motifs. By infusing these depictions of nature with great artistry and finesse, Tiffany’s success would also spread internationally. The Parisian decorative arts dealer Siegfried Bing notably commented later in the 20th
century on the glass produced by Tiffany Studios, and highlights the passion for color and texture demonstrated in this Grape model:
…what [Tiffany] wanted is the discreet claim of semi-opaque tones in which, embedded within the glass itself, he simulated fine veins, filaments and trails of color similar to the delicate nuances in the skin of fruit, the petal of a flower, the veins of an autumn leaf
In the Grape pattern, the naturalistic depiction of finely veined leaves demonstrates a sensitive representation of a motif that was popularized by the firm around the turn of the century. A close connection to Tiffany’s vision of naturalistic design is demonstrated in one of the firm’s archival photographs of Poppy Seeds and Grapes. Here, the graceful curves of the vine in the photograph evidence a dedicated study of the plant and provide a window into the firm’s artistic process of working directly from nature.
1 Siegfried Bing, La Culture artistique en Amérique, Paris 1896, pp. 89-90.