Lot 222
  • 222

Tiffany Studios

700,000 - 1,000,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Tiffany Studios
  • An Important and Rare "Cobweb and Apple Blossom" Table Lamp
  • base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/28893 with the Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company monogram
  • leaded glass, favrile mosaic glass and patinated bronze
with a rare mosaic glass "Wheat" base


Private Collection, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Sotheby's New York, December 2, 1995, lot 885
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Dr. Egon Neustadt, The Lamps of Tiffany, New York, 1970, p. 169
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany at Auction, New York, 1981, p. 110, no. 297
William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, 1983, p. 91
Alastair Duncan, Martin Eidelberg and Neil Harris, Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, London, 1989, figs. 45-46
Alastair Duncan, Martin Eidelberg and Neil Harris, Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Museum, 1991, no. 13
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, p. 180
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2007, p. 23, nos. 44 and 47


Overall very good condition. The shade with approximately 5 cracks dispersed throughout, all stable. Some of the transparent glass tiles comprising the cobwebs with stress fractures, all stable and not visually detractive. The sculptural bronze branching integrated throughout the shade is exceptionally cast and presents with a rich russet brown patina. The bronze branching with some scattered areas of oxidation concentrated primarily around the lower edge of the shade, some minor light surface scratches, rubbing, and a few very small losses to the patina. The base is exquisitely executed, featuring highly sculptural wheat shafts against an extraordinary favrile glass mosaic background displaying a superb color transition. The mosaic tiles are beautifully iridized and display with strong luminous coloration when seen with reflected light. The bronze surfaces with some occasional minor surface scratches, abrasions, and light surface soiling to the recessed contours, consistent with age and gentle handling. The bronze with a very small vertical casting hole located approximately 1/2 inch above the foot (very minor and only visible under very close inspection). The mosaic glass is in excellent condition. All of the mosaic glass tiles appear original and undisturbed, with some occasional very minor scattered clamshell chips and surface flecks, some of which could possibly be natural pitting, all consistent with age and gentle handling. The mosaic glass with a few occasional minor hairlines (all stable). With a small L-shaped chip to one tile approximately 4 inches above the bottom of the base and a small clamshell chip adjacent to the left of one of the vertical bronze ribs approximately 2 inches from the top of the base. The interior well that supports the oil canister and socket cluster is fully-detachable. The well is threaded with a rod which is intended to be bolted to the bottom of the interior of the base and is presently detached. With a later socket cluster with period sockets. An extraordinary lamp that displays the highest artistry of Tiffany’s earliest lamp designs. The scale of the lamp is very refined and jewel-like. The glass selection is evocative of Tiffany’s earliest glass, incorporating textured “granite” glass which heightens the visual interest and tactile nature of the shade. An incredible object that presents with strong visual and sculptural presence.
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

Many of Tiffany Studios’ earliest lamps, from the simplest to the most elaborate, were inspired by the world of insects. Whether spiders, butterflies, or dragonflies, these subjects charmed Tiffany and his designers as well as the buying public. One can well understand an attraction to flowers, but why insects? The answer, of course, was the discovery of Japanese art—not only woodblock prints but bronzes, ceramics, and textiles. Wherever one turned in Japanese art, charmingly conceived insects abounded, and those lessons from Japan were not lost on Tiffany or on Clara Driscoll, the chief designer of the firm’s nature-based lamps and the person in charge of their execution.

Driscoll was inspired to make two closely related designs with the subject of spider webs attached to branches of flowering apple blossoms. Both were designed early on, prior to 1902. In the case of the present lamp, its remarkably early date is proven by the monogram of the Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company stamped on the base. That name was abandoned in 1902. So too, the five-digit production number stamped on both the shade and base, rather than the standardized model numbers employed later, testify to this lamp having been made at just the turn of the century. Equally indicative of an early date is the complexity of the shade’s design, its many small pieces making it labor-intensive and expensive to produce. Although Driscoll delighted in such complexity, ultimately the firm’s mid-level managers prevailed and later designs were simpler and more cost effective.

Also noteworthy and original is the way that the three feet not only give the lamp a firm, wide base, but also they are sculpted like knots or burls on the bronze plant. Then they merge into stalks that ascend the height of the base and visually and physically merge into the branches on the shade. Unlike most Tiffany shades where the leading is flat and minimal, here it is actually sculpted and emerges in relief as the actual boughs of the apple tree – tactile and substantial. Overall, then, this lamp has a truly organic design in all senses of the word “organic.”

Not to be overlooked, and typical of the thoughtful conception and execution of Driscoll’s and Tiffany’s better lamp designs, the glass mosaic between the stalks of wheat is subtly modulated in color, with darker tones in the lower range, suggestive of a field, while softer blues dominate the upper third. These vertical gradations of color, like the shaded backgrounds of Japanese floral prints, further the suggestions of earth and sky. With the arching boughs of the shade above, in effect, the lamp becomes a landscape.

Only three of these distinctive lamps are known, fewer than the large Cobweb and far fewer than the regular floral shades. Their rarity only adds to the attractiveness of this lamp, which is appealingly dramatic both in its structure and color.