Lot 311
  • 311

Tiffany Studios

350,000 - 500,000 USD
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  • Tiffany Studios
  • "Elaborate Peony” Table Lamp
  • shade impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK 1903
    base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/553
  • leaded glass and patinated bronze
with a "Tree" base


Richard Wright, Birchrunville, Pennsylvania
Skinner, Boston, The Richard Wright Collection, October 24, 2009, lot 307


William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, pp. 32-33
Alastair Duncan, Martin Eidelberg and Neil Harris, Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, London, 1989, p. 108
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 154 and 156


Overall very good condition. The lamp presents beautifully when viewed in person and the coloration of the glass is far more luminous and nuanced than seen in the catalogue illustrations. The Peony blossoms display a wide range of hues with exquisite shading to articulate the dimensionality of the lush blossoms. The shade with approximately 12 cracks to the glass tiles dispersed throughout, all stable. The base displays with a deep green and brown patina and with scattered minor surface scratches, abrasions, rubbing, and a few scattered small and minor discolorations consistent with age and gentle use. The outermost edge of the foot with some expected rubbing and a few minor associated losses to the patina, consistent with age and gentle use. With some light surface soiling to the recessed contours of the base design. With some rubbing to the base surrounding the switch and on the switch itself. All sockets appear original and undisturbed with replaced paddle switches. With a period finial in very good condition. A superb example of this iconic Peony model displaying a particularly artistic and richly saturated glass selection. The shade has tremendous visual movement and life. The Tree base is a particularly complementary pairing and enhances the naturalistic depiction of this subject.
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 comes as no surprise that Tiffany and his designers chose peony blossoms as a subject for several different lamp shades. Within the firm’s oeuvre, especially lamp shades, there was a marked preference for spring flowers: daffodils, tulips, apple blossoms, dogwoods, crocuses, magnolias, wisterias. Moreover, the peony offers not only a richness of full blooms but also a wide range of colors—from the palest pink to the deepest crimson. But often, as seen in this arresting lamp shade, the Tiffany artisans often surpassed nature in the colors they chose. Are these flowers from a common bush? The wide spectrum of vivid colors is essentially impossible in nature, but this is an instance where suspension of disbelief must be summoned.  Indeed, even within a single flower there are petals of different colors. Tiffany repeatedly defined himself as a colorist, and nowhere is this better expressed than in lamps such as this.


Ever since the recent discovery that Clara Driscoll was responsible for the design of the firm’s floral shades, there has been a tendency to give her more credit than is due. Although she was extremely gifted, it should be remembered that she, like the other Tiffany artisans, worked in accord with Tiffany’s aesthetic. Indeed, this particular model was designed after Driscoll had left the firm. While she had been there, at some time prior to 1906, she had introduced a smaller shade with a design of simpler, single peonies and that model remained in production even after 1910. To a degree it provided the foundation for the “Elaborate Peony” (model 1903), which was introduced only after 1910, and was seemingly taken out of production by 1913. We do not know specifically who designed it but, clearly, that person well understood and skillfully continued the Tiffany Studios tradition. Although the company was emphasizing simpler and more academic, historicizing designs, still, as this Elaborate Peony shows, it was capable of producing some of the most extravagant floral shades that ever came out of the workshop.