This Tiffany Studios “Jack in the Pulpit” enameled vase displays a deeply naturalistic form and a variegated palette that evoke a highly painterly quality, heightened by Louis C. Tiffany’s signature innovative, sculptural approach to form in design. The “Jack in the Pulpit” floral motif was a form that Tiffany explored extensively in favrile blown glass wares produced by Tiffany Studios. In this example, the form is focused on the naturalistic curves of the plant’s leaves and undulating stalks, as well as the blossom’s striations as they are seen in nature, which are most often alternating stripes of dark green and light green, or in some cases, dark purple and bright green. The same form seen in the present example was also reproduced in pottery examples by the firm.
The columnal body of the vase culminates in an extraordinary openwork passage of interwoven leaves at the vessel’s mouth, each of which displays attention to artistic detail and fine craftsmanship in their finely veined surfaces. The modeled forms of the stems were achieved through a complex series of metalworking techniques, including repoussé and chasing to achieve hand-hammered reliefs on a flat copper sheet, which would then be formed into a vase by wrapping around a cylindrical block. Later a soldered circular foot would be attached. A talented enamelist in the firm would then apply the layers of transparent color with a brush to achieve the maximum level of desired saturation and tone in the enamel work. The ground of this vase is executed in martelé work, achieving a hand-hammered surface that evokes the rhythmic movement of rippling water, or perhaps the changing colors of the sky at sunset with its rich hues of cobalt, lavender, turquoise, and bright yellow-gold. The lush forms of the “Jack in the Pulpit” stems and leaves on the body of the vase are modeled in enameled tones of magenta, bright green, turquoise, and violet, and exemplify the experimental and painterly approach Tiffany took when developing enameled wares.
In late 1892 or early 1893, Louis Comfort Tiffany established a new glass furnace location at 43rd Avenue and 97th Place in Corona, Queens. By April 7, 1893, Tiffany separated the glass production facility of the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company (located at 333 4th Avenue), and moved those operations to the Corona Factory. He named this newly incorporated part of the company, Stourbridge Glass Company for the eponymous English town of famous glass production, which dated back to the sixteenth century. Tiffany’s new Stourbridge Glass section was supervised by the Englishman and former Thomas Webb & Sons employee, Arthur J. Nash.
By November of 1897, Tiffany organized a foundry and metalworking shop in the factory at Corona. It was not until 1898 however that Tiffany began experimenting with enamels at Stourbridge through the assistance of the chemist and metallurgist, Dr. Parker McIlhiney as well as the director of the department, Patricia Gay, and staff enamel artists, Julia Munson, Alice C. Gouvy, and Lillian A. Palmie. At first, Tiffany favored copper as the base metal for the company’s enamel wares due to this metal’s unpredictable interaction with pigment in the enameling process—he embraced the notion of chance both in nature as well as in the production of vibrant, jewel-tone hues of enamel. He would later work with bronze, silver, and gold base metals for enamel ware in the early twentieth century.The Tiffany enamels received highest awards at international exhibitions held in Buffalo in 1901 and Turin in 1902.
Tiffany enamels were first offered for sale in the 1904 Tiffany Blue Book, Tiffany & Company’s annual retail catalogue with prices ranging from $10 to $300. By 1911, the high-end price for these pieces increased to $600. By May of 1907, Tiffany & Co. purchased the Tiffany Furnaces Enamel Department together with its jewelry department. It was noted in the catalogue that Tiffany enamel was, “made under the personal supervision of Mr. Louis C. Tiffany” and that “Tiffany Enamel is singularly unique and distinctive in character as the Tiffany Favrile Glass.”
The present example is from the former Garden Museum in Japan, and was part of the collection of Mr. Takeo Horiuchi, an exceptionally passionate collector of Tiffany Studios decorative arts who endeavored to amass one of the most important collections of Louis C. Tiffany’s work in the late twentieth century.