8,000 - 12,000 USD
bidding is closed
- Tiffany Studios
- A Rare "Seaweed" Calendar Frame
- impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK
- patinated bronze and favrile glass
the reverse with the original easel stand
A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, New York Historical Society, February 23-May 28, 2007
Martin Eidelberg, Nina Gray and Margaret K. Hofer, A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, exh. cat., New York Historical Society, 2007, p. 82, no. 48 (for the present lot illustrated)
“Fancy Goods” were an important part of the repertoire of wares that Tiffany Studios offered its clients. It is an interesting term, one that corresponds to the French phrase, “objet de luxe.” Items that are primarily ornamental or designed to appeal to taste or fancy rather than being merely essential, these small wares were especially intended to satisfy the public’s demand for gifts at Christmas and Easter, chief selling times for Tiffany Studios.
Clara Driscoll’s department made many such items—from candlesticks and inkwells to picture frames and jardinières—all inlaid with small panes or mosaics of glass. Driscoll liked such work not only because it was a challenge to constantly design new items but also it helped provide her staff with profitable work in lulls between projects. In one of her letters she described how Tiffany stopped by her workshop and solicited the staff for new ideas of combining glass with metal. Driscoll did not participate because she was too preoccupied with other projects, but many of the Tiffany Girls were excited at the prospect of submitting new designs. We cannot be certain who designed this charming and possibly unique calendar frame. It could have been Driscoll or her assistants Alice Gouvy and Lillian Palmié, both of whom are recorded as having designed such Fancy Goods. Or it could have been one of the other women there.
Seaweed is an unusual motif in Tiffany’s oeuvre. It was introduced into Western art in the late nineteenth century through the discovery of Japanese art, and became very popular with French designers. One can see it, for example, in the glass of Émile Gallé and the metalware of Maurice Dufrene. François Decorchemont made a monumental ceramic vase decorated with seaweed and the poetic phrase “Fleurs étranges de mer” (Strange Flowers of the Sea). Louis Majorelle designed an entire suite of furniture around the theme of seaweed. The charm of this calendar frame makes one wonder why Tiffany and his designers did not employ the subject more often.