Lot 204
  • 204

TIFFANY STUDIOS | A Rare "Fringe" Table Lamp

Estimate
20,000 - 30,000 USD
Sold
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Description

  • Tiffany Studios
  • A Rare "Fringe" Table Lamp
  • shade engraved S1012base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/S340
  • favrile glass, patinated bronze
  • 25 3/4  in. (65.4 cm) high15 3/4  in. (40 cm) diameter of blown glass shade19 in. (48.3 cm) overall diameter
  • circa 1900

Provenance

Dr. Douglas G. Smiley and Lois Gross Smiley, New York

Literature

Dr. Egon Neustadt, The Lamps of Tiffany, New York, 1970, p. 46 (for a related lamp with fringe decoration)
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany's Glass, Bronzes, Lamps: A Complete Collector's Guide, New York, 1989, pp. 106 and 127 (for related lamps)
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: The Collected Works of Robert Koch, Atglen, PA, 2001, p. 240 (for a related lamp)
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2007, pp. 76, 83 and 106-107 (for related lamps)
Margaret K. Hofer and Rebecca Klassen, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios: Nature Illuminated, New York, 2016, p. 30 (for a related lamp)

Catalogue Note

The Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company’s first attempts at lighting fixtures in the mid-1890s did not incorporate leaded glass shades but instead employed their famous blown Favrile glass in metal mounts. Even after their leaded glass lighting began to receive national and international fame at the beginning of the following decade, the company continued to produce wonderful lamps featuring blown glass shades.

Of particular interest are the Tiffany lamps designed and made at the turn of the century as electric lighting began to become more commonplace. The lamp offered here is a most fascinating example for several reasons. The mold-blown shade, made of opalescent white glass with an overall gold iridescence and enhanced with broad wavy bands of bright iridescent gold, is exceptionally appealing. The ornamental fringe is equally attractive and highly unusual. In the period, the light produced by electric lamps was regarded by many customers as too harsh from below and the bulbs were frequently visible. The fringe on this example admirably solves the problem. Normally comprised of suspended iridescent gold prisms, the fringe in this instance is made of rectangular pressed opalescent white glass pieces, each with an impressed “thumbprint,” connected by thin copper wiring surrounding each piece. This addition greatly reduces the glare while adding an appealing aesthetic counterpoint to the shade.

Attention must also be given to the reticulated bronze base as it is of an apparently unique and unrecorded design. Perhaps the cost of production was too great because of the openwork column with its ornate design of stylized leaves. Whatever the reason, it is an ideal component, as its slightly domed foot, raised on six flattened circular feet, mimics the shape of the shade, while its incised ribbing augments the verticality of the fringe. Taken as a coherent entity, this elegant lamp provides an important insight into the history, technique and significance of Tiffany’s early electric lamps.

This lamp, and the previous lot, a “Lava” vase, were formerly in the collection of the surgeon Dr. Douglas G. Smiley (1917-1988) and his wife, Lois Gross Smiley (1925-2019). The couple began collecting in the 1960s and their Bronx home was replete with the works of Alexander Calder, Hans Wegman and George Nakashima. Lois had a particular fondness for the works of Tiffany Studios. Educated at the prestigious Dalton School and a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Ms. Smiley studied painting under two prominent artists: the Mexican painter Rufino Tamaya and Vaclav Vytlacil, who also instructed Willem de Kooning and Cy Twombly. She became a well-regarded member of the emerging New York abstract expressionist movement and her works were widely exhibited in major galleries and museums. Ms. Gross was later the assistant curator of exhibitions at the Hudson River Museum.

PAUL DOROS
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