Lot 222
  • 222

Tiffany Studios

700,000 - 1,000,000 USD
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

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.