Lot 326
  • 326

Tiffany Studios

550,000 - 750,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Tiffany Studios
  • "Bat" Table Lamp
  • base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/760
  • leaded glass, favrile mosaic glass and patinated bronze
with a mosaic favrile glass "Bat" base


Private Midwestern Collection
Christie's New York, Important 20th Century Decorative Arts, December 12, 1997, lot 214
Acquired from the above by the Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum, Japan
Acquired from the above by the present owner


William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, pp. 44-45 (for another example of the model)
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 184-186 (for two other examples of the model)


Overall in very good condition. The shade with approximately 6 cracks to the glass tiles dispersed throughout, all of which appear stable. There are a few areas that show minimal separation between the glass and shade leading, all of which appear stable and visible only under close inspection. The shade leading displays an exceptionally rich russet brown and green patina, and the patinated bronze elements which define the bats along the lower rim are superbly executed with finely articulated details on the bat heads, bodies and feet. The “Bat” base is in remarkably good condition. The bottom perimeter register of the base is inset with iridized and decorated favrile glass, and the midsection of the base above the bats is inset with iridized mosaic favrile glass tiles. The inset glass is beautifully iridized and displays a superb range of color and luminosity. All of the inset glass tiles appear intact and undisturbed, with no evidence of missing or replaced glass, and the grouting also appears consistent throughout and undisturbed. The mosaic glass tiles with some occasional very small and minor edge flecks and surface losses consistent with age and gentle use. The base with traces of surface soiling and residue along the recessed contours of the decorative bronze work and outer contours of the inset glass registers. The patinated bronze surfaces of the base display a rich russet brown and green patina. The bronze surfaces with gentle surface wear and rubbing to the patina on the high points of the design, and with some scattered minor traces of surface oxidation consistent with age and use. The socket arms with light surface wear and scratches, and the riser with some minor areas of patina loss. The three sockets and paddle switches appear to be replaced. The base has been re-wired and has a replaced cord bushing. The base was likely re-wired when it was acquired by the Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum in Japan, which likely accounts for these replaced components. With a period “Spider” finial which shows rubbing to the patina on the high points of the design and surface soiling and residue in the recessed contours. An outstanding example of this exceedingly rare model, displaying a highly artistic glass selection. The lamp’s small scale and meticulous execution impart a refined, jewel-like quality. The graceful sweeping contours of the bat wings which define the lower shade rim heighten the sculptural nature of the lamp. This lamp presents beautifully in person, and its dramatic fully saturated color palette is dazzling, evoking the feeling of bats flying amidst a deep midnight blue sky dotted with stars.
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.

Catalogue Note

Martin Eidelberg

Bats rarely appeared in Western decorative arts until the turn of the century, largely due to the fact that as nocturnal animals they were associated with night and death.  They were deemed appropriate for funerary monuments but not for objects to be used in the home.  Yet all this changed after 1900 and was due largely to the influence of Japanese art where bats are an emblem of happiness.  They frequently appear in Japanese paintings and prints, as well as on lacquer and metalware, and in textile designs.  Bats entered the Western repertoire as part of the Japoniste tide, and appeared with increasing regularity in all media.  They appeared in the jewelry of Lucien Falize and René Lalique, the ceramics of Clément Massier, and the glassware of Émile Gallé. From this center, the motif spread across Europe and America as well. Tiffany & Co., for example, showed a small vase decorated with bats at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (fig. 1).[1]  The vase’s background pattern is embellished with large stars and the sculpted animals’ heads and wings are articulated three dimensionally, extending outward beyond the lip.  These decorative motifs are highly suggestive and perhaps inspired the design for a "Bat" lamp that Tiffany Studios created a decade later.  Indeed, there are important aesthetic bonds between the work of the two companies that tend to be overlooked.

Tiffany Studios’ introduction of a “Bat” lamp after 1902 is timely within this historical context.  Although still unusual, the bat motif had gained prominence and was stylish. Moreover, its use on lamps was particularly appropriate since, after all, lamps are used at night, the temporal realm of bats.  The decoration expresses the object’s function, but in a poetic and charming way.  That idea had also been exploited by Gallé, who designed several cameo glass lamps in which bats fly across the shade. Whether Gallé’s models were known at Tiffany Studios is moot, but the flow of ideas from France to New York was not uncommon.

Tiffany Studios’ “Bat” lamp exploited ideas that the firm had introduced earlier. Especially relevant is the “Dragonfly” lamp designed  by Clara Driscoll in 1899.  There, dragonflies (another motif introduced under the influence of Japanese art) are worked out in leaded glass in the shade, and the same insects, executed in low relief bronze, adorn a base with a colorful mosaic ground (see lot 327).  The “Bat” lamp follows these conventions.  The conventionalized bronze spider that serves as the cap for the “Bat” lamp was originally created for Tiffany Studios’ “Spider” lamp (model 337), another of the firm’s early table lamps.  Also, like many of these early lamps, the “Bat” shade and base were specifically designed as a single unit and the same model number was applied to both parts (in this instance, model 353).  Yet, while all these factors point to an early date for the introduction of the “Bat” lamp, none of the extant examples bear the pre-1903 logo of the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company.  It is therefore tempting to believe that the “Bat” lamp was introduced around 1903-1904.  Certainly it was in production when the 1906 Price List was published and, as one would expect, it was discontinued by 1910 when almost every object with mosaic inlay was terminated, likely due to cost and the intensity of the labor involved.

Despite the light given off by this lamp, the bats, the stars and the dark glass of the shade evoke the magic of nighttime.

[1]  I am indebted to Kevin Tucker, Janet Zapata and Tom Folk for their help in preparing this essay.