Lot 303
  • 303

Tiffany Studios

80,000 - 120,000 USD
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  • Tiffany Studios
  • A Rare Mosaic Pedestal from the Ralph Linder Pope Residence, Brookline, Massachusetts
  • favrile and parcel-gilt glass tesserae, mother-of-pearl, marble, onyx and glass


Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Linder Pope, Sr., Brookline, Massachusetts, circa 1912
Thence by descent
Sotheby’s New York, June 14, 2008, lot 71


Tiffany Studios, Character and Individuality in Decorations and Furnishings, New York, 1913, n.p. (for a period photograph of the Tiffany Studios mosaic workshop circa 1913 showing the present pedestal at the extreme left)
Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1998, p. 47 (for the above period photograph)
Alastair Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, p. 189 (for the above period photograph)


Overall very good condition. This pedestal was used by the original owners from the period as the stand for a Tiffany “Wisteria” table lamp. The marble top of the pedestal with some light surface scratches and abrasions consistent with age and use, and with a slightly darkened ring mark as a result of the bronze base of the Wisteria lamp resting on the pedestal for so many years. The top with a fine crack that runs from one edge to the center measuring approximately 8 inches, stable. The smaller of the top two marble elements with a restored area to its lower edge measuring approximately 3 inches wide, not overtly apparent due to its position and the fact that the smaller marble element is covered by the larger marble top. The mosaic tiles are overall stable and in good order, with three small triangular tiles missing from the lower edge of the section of the shaft. These missing tiles do not detract due to the complexity of the mosaic pattern. The pale green glass elements that act as separations on the pedestal with some surface soiling scattered surface scratches, and minor edge chips consistent with age and gentle use. The uppermost glass separator on the lower portion of the pedestal with a fine clam-shaped crack measuring approximately 1 x 1/2 inch on the lower edge. The next glass separator down with a few slightly larger edge chips. The lower onyx base with a small crack measuring approximately 2 inches long extending from the perimeter inward. The base with another small curved crack on the upper edge measuring approximately 4 inches long. The bottom edge of the base with scattered minor edge chips consistent with age and use. A fine example of this exceedingly rare form with elegant proportions, a complex mosaic design, and superb coloration to the various glass, stone and mother-of-pearl elements.
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

Tiffany Studios’ mosaic oeuvre covered a broad assortment of objects, ranging from enormous panels to stamp boxes, from fountains to inkstands.  However, the firm produced remarkably few freestanding pieces for domestic furnishings and the pedestal offered here is the only known example of its type.  Tiffany fully recognized its uniqueness and significance when he included the pedestal in a photograph of the company’s mosaic shop published in their 1913 catalog Character and Individuality in Decorations and Furnishings.  It was also featured in a Tiffany Studios’ showroom window display at 347-355 Madison Avenue in March 1910.  It might have been at that time Mr. and Mrs. Pope first saw the pedestal and purchased it for their residence in Brookline, Massachusetts.  In fact, this pedestal served as the stand for their Tiffany Studios "Wisteria" table lamp in their home at 16 Monmouth Street (see Sotheby's New York, June 14, 2008, lot 70).

The pedestal has several interesting design features.  Tiffany did occasionally utilize onyx in his mosaic designs, most notably for the imposing fountain he made for the inner court of the Manufacturers and Liberal Arts Building at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo.  The material, however, was rarely, if ever, utilized in any of the company’s fancy goods.  That each of the ten cylindrical sections comprising the central column has a different mosaic pattern might seem unusual.  In fact, it was a decorative scheme frequently employed by Tiffany Studios and is perhaps best illustrated in the Ayer Mansion in Boston, where Tiffany designed the interior in 1899.  There, the five risers of the stairway leading from the ground floor to the first floor landing each exhibit a different mosaic motif.  Furthermore, the mosaic banding in both the pedestal and the risers is comprised of colored glass together with gold tesserae and mother-of-pearl.  Another similarity between the pedestal and work in the Ayer Mansion is the incorporation of thick transparent green-tinted glass.  In the pedestal, the glass serves as spacers between the different sections of the column, while in the Ayer Mansion thick columns of the glass were used as elements in the large mosaic panel on the first floor landing. 

Perhaps the apparent decorative connection between the pedestal and the Ayer Mansion had an added appeal to Ralph Linder Pope (1887-1966).  While attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1908, Pope resided at 378 Commonwealth Avenue, less than two blocks away from the Ayers.  It is conceivable that Pope was familiar with Tiffany’s work in the mansion and desired something similar in his new Brookline home.

PAUL DOROS, former curator of glass at the Chrysler Museum (Norfolk, Virginia) and author of The Art Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany (New York: Vendome Press), 2013