Lot 306
  • 306

TIFFANY STUDIOS | "Crocus" Vase from the Collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany

12,000 - 18,000 USD
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  • Tiffany Studios
  • "Crocus" Vase from the Collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany
  • engraved P570 L.C. Tiffany-/Favrile Pottery/67A Coll. and signed LCT under the glaze
  • glazed earthenware
  • 7 3/4  in. (19.7 cm) high
  • circa 1905


Collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Laurelton Hall, Laurel Hollow, New York
Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, Objects of Art of Three Continents and Antique Oriental Rugs, The Extensive Collection of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, September 24, 1946, lot 89
Acquired from the above sale by a Private Collector
Thence by descent to the present owner


Martin Eidelberg and Nancy McClelland, Behind the Scenes of Tiffany Glassmaking: The Nash Notebooks, New York, 2001, pp. 122, 176 and 210
Martin Eidelberg, Nina Gray and Margaret K. Hofer, A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, London, 2007, p. 92
Martin Eidelberg, Tiffany Favrile Pottery and the Quest of Beauty, New York, 2010, pp. 33, 46 and 95


Overall very good condition. This vase bears Tiffany’s “A-Coll” mark, indicating that it was personally selected by Louis C. Tiffany for his personal collection at Laurelton Hall in Laurel Hollow, New York. It’s mark is successively numbered with lot 307, possibly indicating that the two vases were accessioned by Tiffany at or around the same time. The glazed surface displays a soft cream accented with naturalistic green-brown passages and dark contours to accentuate the floral forms. The glaze with a few scattered minute irregularities inherent in the making and not at all visually detractive. The edge of the underbase with a small area measuring approximately 1/4 x 1/4 inch which appears to have been ground down slightly and polished, likely done by the firm to ensure the vase sits evenly. This piece has been examined under blacklight and does not show any evidence of prior restoration. An exceptional example displaying the wonderful artistry of Tiffany’s ceramics.
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

Louis C. Tiffany and a Lifetime of Collecting
Lots 306-309

Louis C. Tiffany was an inveterate collector almost from birth.  In August 1881, in one of his first published interviews, Tiffany revealed: “All my life I have had a fancy for collecting bits of glass.  As a boy I was fond of the bright-colored jewels in my father’s shop [Tiffany & Company], and a passion for color grew with age.” Like most collectors, and especially those who grew up surrounded by great art and a variety of important objets de virtu, Tiffany soon became dissatisfied with a few “bits of glass” and thus began a collecting habit that lasted his entire life.

Fortunately for Tiffany, he was a highly successful artist starting at the age of twenty-two and the proceeds from the sales of his paintings, together with liberal financial support from his wealthy father, enabled Louis to purchase practically anything he desired.  Tiffany bought all categories of fine and decorative art with an absolute fervor and the collection kept pace with the size of his living quarters.  While it initially could be contained in a corner of his studio/apartment at the YMCA on East 23rd Street in New York City, the collection rapidly expanded after Tiffany moved to the top floor of the Bella Apartments on East 26th Street in 1878: “The rooms, which are in the highest degree artistic and original in their arrangement and decoration, but so filled with pictures, statues and art treasures collected by Mr. Tiffany during a long absence in Europe and the East, as to form quite a museum well worthy of close and careful observation.”

Tiffany eventually decided to concentrate his decorative arts purchases to three specific areas: ancient glass, Native American artifacts and objects from Asia.  In each category, he built a world-class collection.  Tiffany not only displayed his treasures on shelves and in cabinets, but also extensively incorporated pieces into his personal interior decorating schemes.  He used “much of his art bric-a-brac” when constructing the family mansion on the corner of Madison Avenue and 72nd Street in 1886, including using his Persian tiles as wall panels and wainscoting.  Tiffany’s studio, decorated with objects originating in India, the Middle East and other exotic locales, was described at the time as a “fairlyland,” and one reporter asserted that “it is more like some such wonder as Aladdin used to rub out of his wonderful lamp than anything else.”

The collection grew to almost museum status in 1905 with the completion of Laurelton Hall, Tiffany’s magnificent estate overlooking Cold Spring Harbor on the north shore of Long Island.  Extending for 250 feet and with 8 levels and 84 rooms, the mansion finally gave Tiffany the opportunity to fully display his massive collections, both for study and enjoyment.  The “Chinese Room” focused on objects originating from that country, while his Japanese collection was scattered throughout the mansion, including seven complete sets of Samurai armor lining a wall in the den.  Authentic totem poles were situated along the lengthy driveway leading to the mansion and a “Native American Room” inside contained superb examples of basketry, clothing and other related artifacts. 

Laurelton Hall also gave Tiffany the space to exhibit the finest examples of work created by the Tiffany Studios and its predecessors.  His favorite leaded glass windows, including “The Bathers,” “The Four Seasons” and “Feeding the Flamingoes,” were all displayed in the darkened “Living Hall.” Magnificent furnishings, including mosaics, light fixtures, furniture and rugs set the stage.  Decorative arts of all types were mingled throughout the mansion, as well as being more formally displayed in arched Moorish-influenced display cabinets situated on the octagonal second-floor balcony overlooking the Fountain Court.  With an electrified Favrile glass hanging shade providing the lighting for each display case, exceptional pieces of pottery and blown glass, fashioned by Tiffany’s craftspeople, were there for all to appreciate. 

Most of these objects were sold at Parke-Bernet’s 1946 landmark five-day auction of property from Laurelton Hall.  Additional pieces were loaned by Louis C. Tiffany to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1925 and later donated to the museum by the Tiffany Foundation in 1951.  Among these numerous objects originating from the estate were a very special group personally selected by Louis C. Tiffany that are indicated with the inscription A-Coll on the bottom of each.  It is highly probable that Tiffany, who regularly visited his manufacturing facility in Corona, New York, saw these pieces immediately after the production process and claimed ownership before they could be delivered to the company’s retail outlets.  Those examples deemed worthy of the A-Coll designation, of which there are less than 280, have artistic and technical qualities that make them extraordinary, well-demonstrated by the pottery vases (lots 306 and 307) and  “Aventurine Lava” vase (lot 308) presented here. 

Louis C. Tiffany, when he established his foundation 1919, intended for Laurelton Hall to serve as a museum that would permanently showcase his aesthetic ideals.  Unfortunately, the mansion was totally destroyed by fire in 1957.  The objects from his private collection, however, whether of ceramic, mosaic, enamel or glass, that survive are testaments to his genius and serve to further his legacy as one of America’s greatest artists.

—Paul Doros