NEW YORK - On 17 December Sotheby’s will offer one of the most defining collections of Tiffany Lamps to appear on the market in the last decade. Sotheby’s Jodi Pollack spoke with Tiffany collector and dealer Sandra van den Broek about the collection she formed over 30 years before selling it to the present owner.
Tiffany Studios. "Wisteria" Table Lamps. Estimate $700,000–1,000,000, each.
What made you fall in love with the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany?
I started collecting Tiffany in the mid 1960s – a time when opportunities and great material abounded. Seeing all of these magical objects reemerge into the public’s consciousness from descendants’ holdings inspired me to collect.
What makes a high-quality Tiffany lamp?
The glass selection makes all the difference. Stronger colors generally make for more beautiful lamps. Next is the combination of the shade and base. An excellent example is this exquisite Peony lamp in this collection. It is the dynamic combination of spectacular glass and the sculptural interpretation of crabs articulated around the base that makes this lamp so irresistible. Louis Comfort Tiffany was an unrelenting visionary for whom artistry and innovation were everything.
Tell us about the two Wisteria lamps here.
I found the first of these two Wisterias in the mid-1980s. It was one of the greatest Wisterias that I had ever seen – I knew instantly that I would buy it. About fifteen years later I was approached to purchase another, equally beautiful Wisteria. Before I bought the second lamp, I was shocked to see that its early stamped production numbers followed in exact sequence with the example I already owned. When I put the Wisterias side by side, it seemed evident that these two successively numbered lamps had been cut from the same sheet of glass, which was an amazing discovery.
How do you perceive the current taste for art and design in relation to Tiffany lamps?
I see an increasing group of new young collectors entering the field who are not afraid to pair a great work of art by a modern master next to a spectacular Tiffany lamp. Tiffany is being reevaluated today, but quality remains critical. I strongly believe that the best Tiffany lamps will always be relevant.