Lot 311
  • 311

Tiffany Studios

400,000 - 600,000 USD
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  • Tiffany Studios
  • An Important "Elaborate Peony" Table Lamp
  • shade impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK 1903base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/529
  • leaded glass, patinated bronze
  • 31 3/4  in. (80.6 cm) high22 1/4  in. (56.5 cm) diameter of shade
with a "Roman" base


William Edward Lee, Brazil, circa 1910
By descent to Eduardo Braga Lee (son of William Edward Lee), São Paulo, 1934
By descent to Myriam Lee (widow of Eduardo Braga Lee), São Paulo, 1960
By descent to the present owner, São Paulo, 2017 


William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, pp. 32-33 (for the shade model)
Alastair Duncan, Martin Eidelberg and Neil Harris, Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, London, 1989, p. 108 (for the shade model)
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 154 and 156 (for the shade model)
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2007, pp. 103 (for the base model) and 182 (for the shade model)


Overall very good condition. This superb example of the “Elaborate Peony” shade model displays an exceptional glass selection featuring an intensely saturated and painterly color palette. The Peony blossoms are articulated in a range of rich and deep magenta, cobalt and violet, with accents of softer pinks and lilacs and fiery orange. The leaves and background passages are executed in a range of deep blue, teal and turquoise tones. The shade with approximately 30-35 hairline cracks to the glass tiles dispersed throughout, all stable, which is a relatively low number in proportion to the vast number of glass tiles required to execute this large and complex shade. The shade with surface soiling throughout concentrated to the contours adjacent to the leadlines. The shade with some instances of devitrification to the glass concentrated mainly to the deepest red tiles, which has been largely minimized with the sensitive application of archival Hxtal epoxy by a professional Tiffany conservator. (When the shade is illuminated there is no visible signs of devitrification. Under reflected light, the texture of the devitrification is still slightly visible though not visually detractive.) The base is in overall very good condition with light scattered minor surface scratches, abrasions, discolorations and wear to the patina, consistent with age and gentle use. The base with light surface soiling and minor traces of oxidation to the recessed portions of the design. The outermost edge of the foot with some more concentrated wear and scattered minor losses to the patina, not visually detractive. With period sockets and paddle switches that display a complementary patina to the base. With a period finial in very good condition with a shallow dimple on one side. A masterful example of this illustrious Tiffany floral design with original family provenance.
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

This “Elaborate Peony” Table Lamp hails from a distinguished Brazilian family whose heritage lies in preserving a legacy of taste and refinement. A sage saying has been passed down through the generations: “After a great defeat, always be able to play a piano; after all, you will never know when it will be necessary to rebuild your life.” Indeed, every member of the family was required to learn the piano at a renowned conservatory, thereby learning the grace and sophistication of their forebearers and inheriting an asset that would stay with them irrespective of their material possessions. At the beginning of the 20th century, the patriarch of the family extended this tradition to the tangible, bequeathing upon his four children “the essential heirlooms of a family.” Each child thereby received a piano from Steinway & Sons, a painting by Pablo Picasso, and a lamp from Tiffany Studios. With the exception of the pianos, the whereabouts of these gifts was thought to have been lost to time. The present sale, however, sees the reemergence of one of these children’s Tiffany lamps, enabling the realization of the next chapter of this family’s lore through a new lens.

The peony blossom, with its extraordinary lushness and variation in color palette, was the ideal subject for Tiffany’s leaded glass shades. The firm produced several variations of the floral motif, highlighting Tiffany’s admiration for this springtime flower. The many delicate layers of petals depicted in the “Elaborate Peony”—the most complex and naturalistic of the firm’s peony shade variants—features both full, mature blossoms and young, not-yet-bloomed buds, which punctuate the overall composition. Depicting both the fully-bloomed and yet-to-bloom flower imbues the composition with a wonderful Impressionistic quality, as if to capture a single, fleeting moment in nature.

The present Elaborate Peony example is a tour de force, exemplifying Tiffany’s unparalleled ability as a colorist. Tiffany’s craftsmen often surpassed the colors found in nature when executing peony shades, using a range of predominantly pink glass, but the present shade stands apart. Here, luscious hues of magenta, fuschia, deep red, and soft pink combine with lavender, indigo, and violet to bring the peony blossoms to life. They are set against a background of cobalt and azure blue, creating an exceptionally rich display of favrile glass.