407
407

MASTERWORKS BY TIFFANY STUDIOS FORMERLY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LOUIS C. TIFFANY GARDEN MUSEUM, JAPAN

Tiffany Studios
AN IMPORTANT AND RARE "FISH" MOSAIC PANEL
Estimate
350,000450,000
LOT SOLD. 432,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
407

MASTERWORKS BY TIFFANY STUDIOS FORMERLY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LOUIS C. TIFFANY GARDEN MUSEUM, JAPAN

Tiffany Studios
AN IMPORTANT AND RARE "FISH" MOSAIC PANEL
Estimate
350,000450,000
LOT SOLD. 432,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Tiffany: Dreaming in Glass

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New York

Tiffany Studios
AN IMPORTANT AND RARE "FISH" MOSAIC PANEL
iridized mosiac favrile glass, bronze
37 7/8  x 15 3/8  in. (96.2 x 39.1 cm)
circa 1906
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Vito D'Agostino, New York
Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum, Japan
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

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

Literature

W.H. Thomas, "Glass Mosaic: An Old Art with a New Distinction," International Studio, May 1906, p. LXXVII (for the present lot illustrated)
Alastair Duncan, Martin Eidelberg and Neil Harris, Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, London, 1989, fig. 69 (for the present lot illustrated)
Antiques Magazine, March 1995, front cover (for the present lot illustrated)
Alastair Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany:  The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, pp. 174-175 (for the present lot illustrated)

Catalogue Note


The American Interpretation of an Ancient Technique

“‘All my life,’ said Mr. Tiffany, in answer to the reporter’s question, ‘I have had a fancy for collecting bits of glass. As a boy I was fond of the bright-colored jewels in my father’s shop, and the passion for color grew with age.’”1 With this love of glass fragments and the eye of a supreme colorist, it was only natural that Louis Tiffany would be drawn to the art of mosaics. Well before the founding of the Tiffany Glass Company in 1885, he incorporated mosaic details in several of his most important interior design commissions, including the Veterans’ Room in the Seventh Regiment Armory, the White House and Cornelius Vanderbilt’s mansion.

These early attempts were relatively unsophisticated, both aesthetically and in terms of craftsmanship. However, Tiffany was drawn to the medium as a means of artistic expression as well as for financial reasons. The number of houses of worship being built in the United States in the latter part of the Nineteenth entury was growing exponentially. Leaded glass windows, a field in which Tiffany and his firms would soon be dominant, were a natural decorative element for ecclesiastical purposes. However, walls, particularly where natural light was unavailable, also needed to be enhanced and mosaics were the perfect choice.

Tiffany’s mosaics were used in a moderate number of buildings, but that aspect of his business was catapulted by two events in 1893. First, he established the Stourbridge Glass Company in Corona, Queens, which expanded his available palette to an almost infinite number of color combinations and textures. Perhaps of greater significance was the Tiffany Glass Company’s Chapel at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Mosaics, incorporating over 400,000 tesserae, were used extensively throughout the building and were seen by almost 2 million visitors in the first 3 months of the fair.2

Tiffany mosaics quickly became world-renowned and continued to be a major decorative element for decades. In a time when building fires were a near-constant concern, the company brilliantly, and continually, marketed that these panels were impervious to fire, water and smoke damage and would withstand the ravages of time for centuries, just as the ancient Roman examples had. Also, as was the case with their leaded glass windows, the firm’s mosaics appealed to national pride: A reporter, in discussing Tiffany’s mosaics for the Marquette Building in Chicago, wrote: “Glass mosaics, such as the ones in question, are today nowhere else made with such art and beauty as in America.”3

Almost as important as American jingoism and his glass was Louis Tiffany’s ability to discover craftsmen skilled enough to translate the artists’ cartoons into an actual work. Importing Italian mosaicists, then the acknowledged masters of the art, would have been the easiest solution. Tiffany, however, decided on a radically different scheme. He believed the European workers, accustomed to creating mosaics by the “direct” method, in which mosaics were created in situ directly into cement, would not willingly accept his preference for the “indirect” approach, where the tessera were assembled on an easel and cement was then poured over the glass. So “he decided that it would not do to import mosaic workers from Italy, as these would have their own traditions and ideas. He concluded that the persons who could do this work most successfully were the young women from the art schools in this city [New York]. He believed that they had their color sense more fully developed than any men he could get, that they were trained in form and the use of their hands.”4

These so-called “Tiffany Girls,” led by Clara Driscoll, superbly translated the artist’s design with their unrivalled skill in glass selection, a task that required a remarkable degree of patience as well as talent. Most of their work was displayed in religious and commercial buildings, but they also produced a limited number of panels for wealthy Americans who wanted to decorate their mansions with these unique works of art. The present "Fish" mosaic displays the finest elements of the company’s mosaic concepts. Probably designed by Louis Tiffany, it features a wonderfully Japanesque depiction of iridescent red-mottled koi among beautifully shaded pink and lavender irises against an iridescent green, gold and blue background. A contemporary critic, in reviewing a number of other Tiffany mosaic panels, including this specific work, accurately proclaimed: “Today, the artist, glassmaker and craftsmen work in unity, with one purpose, to produce the best, the most artistic results. They have succeeded, and their accomplishments in glass mosaics are, unquestionably, the best of all times, and they have given a new distinction to an old art.”5

—Paul Doros, Author, The Art Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany

Tiffany: Dreaming in Glass

|
New York