Lot 26
  • 26

Tiffany Studios

400,000 - 600,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Tiffany Studios
  • An Important and Rare "Iris" Lantern
  • leaded glass and patinated bronze


William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, pp. 38-39
Alastair Duncan, Martin Eidelberg and Neil Harris, Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, London, 1989, p. 106
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 160-161 
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2007, p. 245

Catalogue Note

Tiffany’s love of nature and his organic approach to design is wonderfully expressed in this hanging lantern, where images of flowering iris plants fill the six sides.  The vertical edges of each panel are masked by bronze, three-dimensional, sword-shaped leaves that seemingly grow up the sides.  Even the hinged door at the bottom has a rippling, linear pattern that represents the roots coming out of the rhizomes.

Although Tiffany Studios produced a wide variety of hanging lanterns, all of them were geometric in design, often employing glass panels or turtleback tiles, sometimes with filigree wire.  The floral subject of this lantern appears to be unique.  Moreover, perhaps only a half dozen or fewer examples of this model are known.  One can only wonder why the company was not prompted to create other lanterns with floral designs, especially considering how strikingly charming this design is.

Each of the six sides has a different arrangement of leaves, flowers, and buds.  One has as many as five flowers, another as few as one flower and several buds.  While the panels are unified by the stunning dusk-to-dawn glass selection that makes up the background, each facet of the lantern is a studied arrangement in asymmetry, very much like a Japanese pillar print.  There are famous Japanese prints that come to mind by Hiroshige and Hokusai but the source could equally well have been a more commonplace print by a secondary master.  Not only was Tiffany a great admirer of far Eastern art but so too were his workers.  Clara Driscoll, for example, bought Japanese prints from Vantine’s, a store in New York known for its Japanese imports.  Design manuals frequently borrowed Japanese prints or offered their own versions of Japanese arrangements to guide their readers.  For instance, a design of iris composed in the manner of a Japanese pillar print can be seen in Lilley and Midgley’s A Book of Studies in Plant Form, published in London in 1896.

The vertical composition of the iris plants and its sword-shaped leaves in this lantern cleverly accommodate themselves to the lantern’s height, in a manner borrowed from Japanese prints.  The overall shape evokes the advice that Tiffany gave Clara Driscoll when she was designing the Butterfly lamp.  She had originally intended to have a spherical base covered with a mosaic depicting primrose plants, but Tiffany suggested that she make the base tall and slim, like the plants themselves.  Here too, the tall, slim proportions of both the lantern and the iris plant complement each other.