Lot 10
  • 10

TIFFANY STUDIOS | "Pony Wisteria" Table Lamp

Estimate
300,000 - 500,000 USD
Sold
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Description

  • Tiffany Studios
  • "Pony Wisteria" Table Lamp
  • base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/2135
  • leaded glass, patinated bronze
  • 17 in. (43.2 cm) high10 1/4  in. (26 cm) diameter of shade
  • circa 1905

Provenance

Joseph and Lillian Mihalak Collection, Pontiac, Michigan
Christie's New York, Magnificent Tiffany Lamps: The Mihalak Collection, March 22, 1980, lot 4
Joel Schur, Los Angeles, California
Christie's New York, Important Art Nouveau: The Joel Schur Collection, December 14, 1985, lot 34

Literature

Dr. Egon Neustadt, The Lamps of Tiffany, New York, 1970, p. 214
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany At Auction, New York, 1981, pp. 69 and 97
Vivienne Couldrey, The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Secaucus, NJ, 1997, p. 23
Alastair Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, p. 292
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, p. 108

Catalogue Note

There no longer is any question as to who designed the Wisteria lamp; it was Clara Driscoll. Several passages in her correspondence with her family in 1902 clearly document this. At the same time, it must be remembered that she was often assisted by others on her staff such as co-workers Lilian Palmié and Alice Gouvy, who helped work out the details. Moreover, once the design was established, modifications were often introduced. For example, during the first years of production of the Wisteria model, the profile at the top of the shade was altered. Also, variants were subsequently introduced, such as this smaller version—one which, in accordance with the firm’s nomenclature, was referred to as a Pony Wisteria. Despite there being fewer wisteria panicles in the Pony version, the blossoms are essentially the same size. The base has the same tree format as the one for the large Wisteria but, surprisingly, it is more detailed and gnarled.

Not least of all, different color combinations were introduced for the Wisteria shade. Alternative color harmonies were prepared in shades of purple, lavender, and white blossoms, echoing not only the different species found in nature but also the glass selector’s preferences. Some shades show sharply differentiated alternating lavender and white panicles while others have gradual transitions of color; a few known examples even turn to pink at the lower border. Although wisteria vines generally bloom before the leaves appear, Clara Driscoll took liberties and set the flowers against an expanse of rich green leaves and blue sky, enriching the color scheme even more.

The Pony Wisteria offered here is distinctive because the traditional palette has been enriched with flaming red, orange and yellow glass representing a sunset sky. This shade is further distinguished by the rich jewel-like translucent amethyst glass tiles selectively positioned adjacent to the sunset passages, evoking the warm sunlight breaking through the vines. Such skies in Tiffany’s repertoire are not unfamiliar to us, because these coloristic effects are often present in the firm’s landscape windows. That this idea was transferred to a Wisteria shade is almost unheard of—an artistic choice one might attribute to either the request of a client or the whimsy of the glass selector. Yet one other albeit less fiery “sunset” example is known: a full size Wisteria in the Neustadt Collection.

—Martin Eidelberg
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