Lot 323
  • 323

TIFFANY STUDIOS | A Rare "Poinsettia" Floor Lamp

400,000 - 600,000 USD
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  • Tiffany Studios
  • A Rare "Poinsettia" Floor Lamp
  • shade impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORKbase impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/28623
  • leaded glass, patinated bronze
  • 78 in. (198.1 cm) high26 in. (66 cm) diameter of shade
  • circa 1910
with a "Scroll" Senior floor base and "Pig Tail" finial


Private Collection
Christie's New York, December 10, 1998, lot 370


Alastair Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2007, p. 202 (for the shade)
Margaret K. Hofer and Rebecca Klassen, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios: Nature Illuminated, New York, 2016, p. 133 (for the shade)


Overall very good condition. When viewed firsthand, the lamp displays an incredibly rich warm palette with crimson and garnet red poinsettia petals presented against a golden yellow background. The centers of the poinsettia blossoms are executed in brilliantly iridized "Cypriote" glass, and the rich yellow background passages are comprised of complex "confetti" glass which greatly heightens the visual depth and movement of the lamp. The shade with approximately 12 hairline cracks dispersed throughout, stable. The shade with some light surface soiling concentrated to the contours adjacent to the leadlines. The base is in very good condition and displays a rich brown patina with scattered minor surface scratches, abrasions, and surface soiling to the recessed contours of the design consistent with age and use. The outer perimeter of the base cushion with some scattered shallow bruises. One bruise has been sensitively restored with epoxy and blended to harmonize with the patina, barely visible upon close inspection. With later replaced sockets and a replaced finial with light wear, traces of oxidation, scattered discolorations and a small shallow bruise on the outer perimeter. A superb example of the model displaying a stunning glass selection. The lamp presents beautifully in person with strong radiant color.
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

Poinsettias, a plant native to Mexico, were introduced to the United States in 1828 by Joel R. Poinsett (1779-1851), an amateur botanist who was America’s first Minister to Mexico and later became Secretary of War under Martin van Buren.  Because of their late blooming season, generally between October and January, and with their brilliant red bracts against vivid green leafage, the plant soon became associated with Christmas and became exceptionally popular in the United States. 

Tiffany, an expert botanist and brilliant marketer, took advantage of the Poinsettia’s appeal by using it for several models of lamp shades.  Surprisingly, examples of the design did not appear until around December 1908, when Tiffany Studios introduced the version as a large chandelier in a New York Times advertisement.  Not surprising is that the holiday connection was prominently promoted: “The ‘Poinsettia,’ executed like all the Tiffany Studios shades under the personal direction of Mr. Louis C. Tiffany, possesses a distinctive Christmas atmosphere.  Gives the rich reds and greens of the Poinsettia with remarkable fidelity.” Three years later, the company advertised the table lamp version as a “practical Christmas gift of permanent value” and “most acceptable as remembrances.”

The company made the shade in six different sizes, with diameters ranging from 14 to 26 inches.  The largest example with flowers covering its entirety, is supremely artistic as the example offered here clearly demonstrates.  The bracts of the poinsettias, depicted in various stages of growth, are in opalescent shades of ruby, crimson, scarlet and purple-streaked carmine.  The foliage, with finely leaded “veining,” is in various shades of green marbled with yellow and amber. 

Of particular note are the small central cyathias of the poinsettias, which are the actual flowering part of the plant.  Usually a plain yellow in nature, in this shade they are interpreted very differently, through the employment of sapphire-colored glass together with the highly unusual application of iridescent Favrile “Cypriote” glass.  The background is also exceptional, with its combination of opalescent, translucent and transparent yellow glass, much of it of the “foliage,” or “confetti,” variety with thin fractured shards of red, amber, green and white glass embedded on the interior surface.  The overall effect achieved by this rich and diverse glass selection transcends the model, imparting the shade with tremendous visual depth, tactility and movement.  All things considered, this stunning lamp is perhaps the finest example of the model to come onto the market in recent history.

—Paul Doros