Lot 405
  • 405

Tiffany Studios

35,000 - 45,000 USD
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  • Tiffany Studios
  • An Important Lotus Bowl from the Collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany
  • incised 38 A-Coll L.C. Tiffany-Favrile Bronze Pottery B.P251 with artist's monogram
  • patinated and enameled bronze pottery


Louis Comfort Tiffany, Laurelton Hall, Laurel Hollow, NY
Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum, Japan
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., September 29, 1989-March 4, 1990, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, April 12-September 9, 1990, Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum, Tokyo, Japan, January 12-March 17, 1991, Kobe City Museum, Kobe, Japan, April 6-May 12, 1991, Toyama Citizens Plaza, Toyama, Japan, June 30-July 26, 1991


Alastair Duncan, Martin Eidelberg and Neil Harris, Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, London, 1989, fig. 7 (for the present lot illustrated)
Alastair Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany:  The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, p. 472 (for the present lot illustrated)
Martin Eidelberg, Tiffany Favrile Pottery and the Quest of Beauty, New York, 2010, p. 95 fig. 233 (for the design in ceramic)


Overall in excellent condition. This lot is executed in “bronze pottery”, a term used by Tiffany for the firm's electroplated copper ceramics. The exterior copper-plated surfaces display with rich patination, with minor surface scratches and surface soiling and some oxidation to the recessed areas. The glazed ceramic interior displays a saturated olive green tone, with some irregularities to the enamel inherent in the making, craquelure, minor surface soiling to the recessed areas, and a few isolated areas of wear to the finish. The glaze to the bottom interior of the bowl is slightly dry and has flaked slightly in one isolated area, stable. The coloration of the exterior of the bowl displays with deeper and richer color than seen in the catalogue illustrations, which are slightly dark and do not show the true tones of the russet coloration sufficiently. An incredibly naturalistic, complex form and technique, formerly in the personal collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany, and more recently in the collection of the Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum in Japan.
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

Once belonging to Louis. C. Tiffany himself, the present bowl displays a vivacious and sculptural form, as well as an innovative fabrication technique developed by the Tiffany Furnaces in the first decade of the twentieth century. Around 1908, Tiffany Studios introduced the Bronze Pottery line of wares that were put into production at Tiffany Furnaces in Corona. The technique was initially intended for table lamp bases that functioned using oil or kerosene, but the technique quickly spread to a variety of vessels and forms intended for home furnishings and decorative display. Tiffany bronze pottery was first advertised in Tiffany & Co.’s Blue Book in 1911, with prices starting at five dollars

The specialized fabrication technique combined the pottery and metalware departments of the firm, using the cutting-edge technology of electroplating. The outer surface of a ceramic vessel was plated in copper through the process of electrolysis. First, the copper sheath or base was patinated to simulate variations of bronze finishes, a metal itself which is not conducive to electroplating due to its alloyed structure.

The present example displays an elaborate network of lotus buds in the form, which would have been executed first in ceramic for the base and electroplated in the manner described above to achieve a bronze-like finish with a rich, russet-hued patina.  The interior of the bowl displays a vibrant green enamel, a color that was often used in mounted pottery vases as well, which bears resemblance to the bright green glass used in reticulated vases with bronze mounts produced by the firm.

The lotus motif is sensitively rendered in highly naturalistic detail with curling buds, blossoms, and leaves that unfurl to create an irregular aperture. The effect is as though the viewer is directly looking into a lush garden in miniature. Tiffany often provided plant samples from the grounds of his estate at Laurelton Hall to the pottery studio in order to be inspired by and replicate natural forms in the works produced.

Tiffany’s affinity for Asian culture in his designs is clearly present in this work. The significance of the lotus in ancient and contemporary Chinese culture relates the plant to Buddhist ideals of rebirth and regeneration. The lotus is the flower of the sixth month and associated with summer, and it is a symbol of purity because it rises out of the mud to bloom each year. Lotus blossoms are often depicted as a throne for the Buddha, and the lotus is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism.

This work is a rare and important example of a signed piece from Tiffany’s personal collection, and which was also part of the famed collection of Mr. Takeo Horiuchi’s Garden Museum in Japan.