Lot 5
  • 5

Tiffany Studios

20,000 - 30,000 USD
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  • Tiffany Studios
  • A Rare "Dragonfly" and "Arrowhead" Humidor
  • impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/S1752
  • silvered, gilt and enameled bronze with cedar-lined interior and ivorine handle


Hugh McKean, The Lost Treasures of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1980, no. 232 (for a related pitcher with similar decorative technique)
Alastair Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, p. 372 (for the model)
Elyse Zorn Karlin, Maker and Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry, New York, 2015, p. 149 (for a related model)
Timeless Beauty, The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany, The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Atglen, PA, 2016, p. 125 (for a related pitcher with similar decorative technique)


Overall very good original condition. When viewed in person, the bronze and enameled surfaces present with a slightly more subdued coloration than in the printed catalogue illustration. The box appears to have been untouched and is in original condition. The bronze has acquired a dark, rich patina with age and presents with very few minor and light scattered surface scratches, consistent with age and gentle handling. The recessed areas of the design with some extremely light surface soiling and minor traces of oxidation. The gilt decoration presents with wonderful luster and luminosity and is in overall good condition with some expected scattered areas of losses throughout, concentrated to the box lid and upper edge of the box. The silvered decoration with losses throughout, visible in the catalogue illustration and consistent with age and gentle handling. The enameled surfaces are in good condition and present with subtle, cool green tones, reinforcing the arrowhead and dragonfly motifs. The original handle has been recently sensitively replaced with ivorine by a professional silver conservator. The interior cedar lining appears to be original and is in very good condition. An outstanding, beautifully executed work by Tiffany, exemplifying the firm’s mastery of diverse techniques and a modernist interpretation of their distinct naturalistic aesthetic.
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

This beautifully decorated box is quite unique in the oeuvre of Tiffany Studios for its highly patterned surfaces.  The lid has a design of conventionalized dragonflies, while the sides are upright arrowhead leaves with the plant’s flowers filling the interstices.  These patterns are not unlike those seen in French design books like Eugène Grasset’s La Plante et ses applications ornementales.  Equally unusual is the addition of silver and gold plating, as well as green enameling.  Unlike the spontaneity and bold coloring of the works from the Enamel Department at Tiffany Studios, here the enameling is cool and even in tone.  Like patina, it carefully reinforces the relief design.  Another cigarette box of this design was in The Garden Museum Collection, and it had a related and equally unusual surface treatment with the plants in gilt.

The design of this box and its coloristic treatment is closely related to a Tiffany Studios design for a tea set.  A creamer once at Laurelton Hall is now in the Morse Museum, and other parts of this tea set have occasionally come on the market.  Comparable to the bone handle on the box, the tea set features ivory handles.  Although not certain, it would seem that all these works were created around 1900 rather than later, after 1910.  The  modernity of the patterns, the richness of materials, and the elaborate finishes suggest the years around the turn-of-the century when Tiffany Studios spared no expense.

—Martin Eidelberg