T he effect of encountering one of Tiffany Studios’s Favrile glass work is natural, even instinctive. Their sublime beauty imbues familiar household forms with delightful aesthetic charm – yet this is only part of their appeal. Contemplating these works, as well as their wider history and incredible artistry, leads to appreciating an even richer aura.
By their very nature, these glass items are fragile yet impervious to time. Like many of the subjects they depict or reference – whether flowers, the forces of nature or long-ago eras of history – Tiffany’s Favrile glass objects capture something extraordinary: the chaotic yet elegant choreography of the expert craftsmen working with and against heat and time. They also make permanent the visionary genius of Louis C. Tiffany, one of the most influential figures of twentieth-century design, whose inexhaustible pursuit of beauty inspired innovation and unparalleled technical achievements within the glass medium.
As passionate admirers of glass, it is no surprise that collectors Micki and Jay Doros sought to surround themselves with the beauty of Tiffany’s work with a single-minded vision. They were completely self-taught in their collecting endeavor, which began in the late 1950s with cut-glass knife rests. Their expertise grew in step with their insatiable enthusiasm, which was so great that, by the mid-seventies, their home overflowed with an eclectic plethora of glass.
In fact, the sheer quantity was so great that it became the pretext for an intervention. Their son Paul remembers: “For Dad, glass collecting was practically, if not actually, an addiction.” After sitting down for a serious talk, the family reached a happy solution: they would deaccession works they had amassed by Mt. Washington, Libbey Amerina, Duran, Quezal, Steuben and others, and focus exclusively on Tiffany glass. (They retained the sentimental knife rests.) Jay and Micki set about building a legendary, encyclopedic collection of works from every phase and project of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s storied career – the first chapter of which is now coming to auction at Sotheby’s in a series of four sales beginning on 7 December 2022 with “Volume I: Innovation and Technique.”
Certain treasures within The Doros Collection are exceedingly rare. Consider the rare “diatrea” vase: while other examples of this exceptionally difficult-to-produce style exist, the Doros’s is the only known example to feature a decorated body within the latticework cage. The layered “Window” vase, is one of only six known productions of the form and one of only three to use cabochons over the exposed openings to reveal the confetti-like glass lining layer. Many other works in the collection – such as the “Lava” vase, formerly in the collection of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.; the monumental “Millefiori” vase; and the covered “Indian Pipe” enameled vase, which was exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris – represent some of the finest examples of their respective forms.
The five-hundred-odd Tiffany pieces in the Doros home were kept within glass cases, except for the occasions when Jay would delightedly offer visitors a grand household tour. The point was never to acquire items as an investment, but for love and appreciation alone. Paul Doros again recalls: “Many long-time and advanced art collectors frequently proclaim, when it comes time for the inevitable dispersal of their collections, that they are merely custodians or guardians for the next generation of collectors. That was definitely not my father’s attitude, as he considered every piece in the collection as one of his children.”
That love is evident in Jay and Micki’s zeal for collecting and their unparalleled expertise, as well as in the eloquent catalogue notes that Paul Doros authored for Sotheby’s auction catalogue. The story of The Doros Collection is a rewarding tale almost as beautiful as the partnership that created it, and we are privileged to have the opportunity to see it.