Lot 202
  • 202

Tiffany Studios

15,000 - 20,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Tiffany Studios
  • "Acorn" Covered Box
  • engraved L.C.T. and impressed 22469/EL178
  • enameled copper


Property from a Private Family Collection, Washington, circa 1940s
Thence by descent
Acquired from the above by the present owner 


Janet Zapata, The Jewelry and Enamels of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1993, p. 55, no. 28 (for a related covered box in the form of an eggplant)
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, New York, 2007, p. 88, no. 57 (for the above related box)


Overall very good condition. The enamel presents with strong luminous iridescence and rich earth and jewel tones. The lid with expected occasional extremely minor fleabite enamel losses around the lower edge. The enameled surfaces with some extremely light and fine surface scratches throughout consistent with age and gentle handling. The enameled surfaces have been sensitively restored by a professional conservator where there were small isolated areas of enamel loss on the lid and box. This box is by all accounts an early experimental work, evidenced by its somewhat irregular construction and the seemingly unfinished lower edge of the box lid. When assembled, the lid rocks slightly on the box due to the irregular edges of both the lid and box. This could be addressed and stabilized by a professional enamels conservator (please contact the 20th Century Design department for more information.) A highly sculptural and naturalistic form displaying strong luminous coloration and iridescence.
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

A love of nature imbued much of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s art. However, it was his observational skills and appreciation for what others might consider insignificant that make many of his designs so exceptional. Mushrooms, ferns, and other plants, which some would consider unworthy of study, were employed in innumerable motifs in all aspects of his firm’s productions. Assisted by his chief chemist, Dr. Parker McIlhiney, Tiffany’s imaginative designs in enamel were brought to fruition.

The covered box offered here is an example of Tiffany being inspired by a seemingly lowly object, an acorn, and using his creative genius to create a superbly artistic object. Part of the company’s EL series of enamelware, the box displays a higher and more sophisticated degree of experimentation than those pieces in the SG series being made concurrently. Interestingly, the box was designed as an upside-down acorn. The round body, representing the nut’s cupule, has repoussé scales finely enameled in translucent shades of orange, red, violet and green, all enhanced with a light multi-colored iridescence. The peaked cover, in the form of the acorn’s pericarp, is in complementary shades of green and blue with a more intense iridescence. This box, and enameled pieces like it, caused one contemporary critic to rave: “The secret of the great discovery rests with one artist, Mr. Louis Tiffany, for his work stands today unique in its originality, the admiration of the world of art. Upon the base of metal, be it bowl, box or vase, a design is beaten out or carved, and then follows this wondrous process, by which the design lives and is beautiful with a glow and wealth of color, for which all verbal expression utterly fails to convey the slightest idea.”1

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

1 “Some Beautiful Glass and Rare Enamels,” The Art Interchange, vol. 50, no. 6 (June 1903), p. 156.