Lot 344
  • 344

Gold, Enamel and Diamond Orchid Brooch, Tiffany & Co., Designed by Paulding Farnham

80,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • Tiffany & Co.
  • gold, enamel, diamond
Designed as the variety of orchid 'oncidium varicosum rogersii,' the petals decorated in vibrant yellow and faint orange enamel, accented by the lip with yellow, ochre and cream-colored enamel bordered by rose-cut diamonds, the descending curled sepals of chartreuse and orange-hued enamel supported by a column of rose-cut diamonds, signed Tiffany & Co., two diamonds missing; circa 1890. With original fitted brown leather and green velvet case signed Tiffany & Co., New York, Paris, London.


In very good condition, particularly considering the delicate nature of the piece. Some very minor enamel loss on the reverse, not visible when worn. Export permits required only regarding the case, not the actual brooch. Set with 47 near colorless diamonds of decorative quality weighing approximately .25 carat. Exceptionally naturalistic and artistically rendered, with tangible texturing to the front of the petals. Signed on the pin catch. Please note that lot 344 depicts an orchid of the same botanical variety as one of the twenty-four orchids represented at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889. Due to the popularity of the orchids at the Exposition, other examples were made shortly thereafter, including the example offered here.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. Illustrations in the catalogue may not be actual size. Prospective purchasers are reminded that, unless the catalogue description specifically states that a stone is natural, we have assumed that some form of treatment may have been used and that such treatment may not be permanent. Our presale estimates reflect this assumption.

Catalogue Note

Potential bidders who intend to export this lot in the original case are advised that certain permits are required for export. If you are interested in this lot, please contact the Jewelry Department.

The orchid offered here is of the variety Oncidium Varicosum Rogersii.  This variety was one of those mentioned in the Paris Herald of September 30, 1889 among the twenty-four orchids designed by Paulding Farnham and made by Tiffany & Co. for the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889.  So popular were the orchids that by April 1890 Tiffany’s increased the number of varieties from twenty-four to forty-one.  As of the publication in 2006 of the exhibition catalogue Bejewelled by Tiffany, 1837-1859, it is stated on p.202 that “A number of these orchid brooches exist today, seven of which are in the Tiffany & Co. archives along with three enameled flower brooches and a floral lapel watch”.

Tiffany & Co. received the Gold Medal for Jewelry at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1889 largely due to the success of the enameled orchids which were praised by French and American jewelers and critics alike.  The New York Times wrote on March 13, 1889: “Tiffany & Co (has) been studying for two years to bring about a satisfactory result in this direction (enameling) and the outcome thoroughly justifies the labor.”  The orchids were also praised in a Jeweler’s Weekly article of June, 1889: “so perfectly copied after nature as to inspire unqualified admiration…such fidelity is manifested as temporary to deceive the observer into a belief that real flowers have been placed in the showcases with the jewelry.”

Paulding Farnham, born in 1859 to a prominent New York family, is first recorded as working for Tiffany’s around 1885.  Although the orchids were not the first of his designs, they were the first objects that could be safely attributed to him. Farnham was made artistic director of Tiffany’s entire display of gems in Paris in 1889.  Despite the exotic nature of the orchids, he made a special effort to keep Tiffany’s exhibition American in character by using materials and workmen from the United States whenever possible.  The orchids, as well as other works by this talented designer are mentioned in an article by Janet Zapata entitled:  ‘The rediscovery of Paulding Farnham, Tiffany’s designer extraordinaire, Part 1: Jewelry, from The Magazine Antiques, March 1991.