Lot 446
  • 446

Tiffany Studios

300,000 - 400,000 USD
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  • Tiffany Studios
  • An Important "Elaborate Peony" Table Lamp
  • shade impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK 1903
    base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/542
  • leaded glass, patinated bronze
with a rare "Arch and Leaf" base 


For the shade:
Film and radio comedians Elsie and Doris Waters, Steyning, England
Joan and Clive Collins, London, circa 1980


William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, pp. 32-33 (for another example of the model displaying the identical shade and base pairing)
Alastair Duncan, Martin Eidelberg and Neil Harris, Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, London, 1989, p. 108 (for the example cited above)
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 154 and 156 (for another example of the model displaying the identical shade and base pairing)


Overall in very good condition. The shade with only approximately 22-25 cracks to the glass tiles dispersed throughout, which is a relatively low number in proportion to the vast number of glass tiles which were required to execute this elaborate shade design. All of these hairlines appear stable. The lower register of the shade is articulated with accents of "Confetti" glass (also referred to as "fractured" glass) in the background passages. One Confetti glass tile appears to have a small shallow surface loss to the outermost top layer (only visible under close examination and inherent in the layered nature of Confetti glass). The shade leading is exceptionally fine and beautifully rendered, and displays a particularly rich and vibrant russet brown and green patina. The "Leaf and Arch" base is a superb example of this rare and highly sculptural base design. The patinated bronze surfaces throughout display an exceptionally rich and satisfying dark green patina. The bronze surfaces with some occasional light surface scratches, gentle rubbing, and light surface soiling to the recessed contours of the design consistent with age and very gentle handling. All of the sockets and paddle switches appear original and undisturbed to the base. With a period finial which displays a closely corresponding patina to the base and shade. The finial is in very good condition with gentle rubbing and light wear to the patina. An outstanding example of this quintessential floral model. This lamp displays one of the most desirable shade and base pairings, which create a stunning and graceful silhouette to the lamp. The shade shows a complex, richly saturated glass selection. The Peony blossoms display a wide range of hues with exquisite shading to articulate the dimensionality of the lush blossoms. The shade is further distinguished by the rich aqua accents below the top register and use of dynamic "Confetti" glass throughout the lower register to heighten the visual movement and depth of the shade. The lamp presents beautifully, and the coloration of the glass is far more luminous and nuanced than seen in the catalogue illustrations.
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

It is not surprising that Tiffany and his designers chose peony flowers as the motif for several lamp shades.  Within the company’s oeuvre, especially the lamp shades, there was a marked preference for spring flowers: daffodils, tulips, apple blossoms, dogwood, wisteria.  Moreover, the peony has an extraordinarily rich blossom, not only in terms of its fullness but its sweet fragrance. Not to be overlooked is the peony’s popularity in Eastern art (it was known as “the King of Flowers”), which was undoubtedly an additional stimulus for choosing it.

One of the most remarkable aspects of peonies is the species’ wide range of colors: from white through pink to the deepest of reds.  But Tiffany’s workers often surpassed nature, as seen in the present lamp. Here, a spectrum of light pinks, mauves, and deep purplish reds grow in colorful abandon as though on a single bush.  Tiffany repeatedly deemed himself a colorist and that is certainly manifest here. The selector who chose the glass for this lamp outdid themself in this instance.

This shade, designed after Clara Driscoll, chief designer for Tiffany’s floral lamps, left the firm, reveals how well the company succeeded in her absence and that the Tiffany Studios tradition continued to flourish.  A shade with simpler, single peonies, presumably designed by her, had been introduced before 1906 and apparently sold well since it remained in production after 1910 when so many of the other floral shades were discontinued.  The “Elaborate Peony” conveys the notion that this design represents a hybrid, doubled blossom.  Despite Tiffany’s normal shunning of such hybrid species, here he was drawn to the sheer splendor and richness of these full blossoms.  This later design, one that was introduced sometime after the October 1910 Price List and before the 1913 Price List, reveals that despite the firm’s general tendency toward simplification in the second decade of the century, it could also produce designs that are as full and even more complex than before.  The profusion of passages with confetti glass greatly enriches the effect.  The colors of the blossoms are intense and saturated, and so is the deep blue sky at the top. Were we to discuss Tiffany’s mature style after 1900 in terms of painting, comparing his work to that of Titian or Monet (he certainly would encourage this), then we could speak of these saturated colors as his ultima maniera.

The bronze base, generally identified as the “Arch and Leaf” model, reveals the firm’s mastery of casting in bronze.  Its gracefully sloping form merges the traditional notion of base and shaft into one tapered, organic shape.  Moreover, while most lamp bases tend to be solid and architectural, here it is more like openwork.  The arches are modeled three-dimensionally, contributing to the sense of an abstracted, organic plant structure—and this conceit works wonderfully with the floral shade.

—Martin Eidelberg