Christie's New York, June 14, 1986, lot 542 Acquired from the above by the present owner
Alastair Duncan, TiffanyWindows, New York, 1980, pp. 83, 95 and 176 (for related landscape windows featuring birches and irises)
The present lot is a superb example of the iconic landscape window by Tiffany Studios. The flowing water symbolizes the passage of life as it has in art for centuries, from medieval manuscripts to the Hudson River School. Tiffany interpreted the subject in stained glass, with glowing skies representing sunrise or, more often, sunset, memorializing loved ones. Here, a radiant sunset in fiery reds and yellows is tempered by the rich purple of oncoming night. It is reflected in the deep blue-green water, with the distant indigo mountains on the horizon casting cobalt shadows. Layers of acid-etched blue, pink, and green glass was enhanced with yellow silver stain and layers of streaky white glass to achieve the intense colors and lifelike effect of distance and water in motion.
The spring-time foliage of irises and birch trees in the foreground suggests youth. Blue irises in full bloom with flaming orange centers gather at the base of the trees around an open pathway to the water. The iris was a favorite flower in Tiffany’s landscapes, depicted in surprising verisimilitude thanks to the textures and colors of his exceptional glass.
It is the texture of the tree trunks that is truly distinctive in this window. Created by acid-etching several layers of brown, blue, and yellow glass, one can almost feel the peeling bark and hear the gentle rustle of the spring-green leaves. The cylindrical shape of the trunks is produced by shadows and highlights etched into the glass. Mottled glass forms dappled shadows on the leaves. A profound sense of quiet and peace pervades the scene as a result of the masterful treatment of Tiffany’s justly famous glass.
JULIE SLOAN Stained-Glass Consultant, North Adams, Massachusetts
Overall in very good condition. This window depicts a poetic landscape scene in late summer with an incredibly rich and vibrant color palette. Beyond a curtain of golden-green birch leaves in the upper foreground, a pink and orange sunset sky meets distant indigo, cobalt and violet mountains. The bottom half of the window transitions to rich blues and greens to depict the lake and the garden of irises at the base of the birch tree, which are executed in vibrant purple-blues and shamrock green stems. The window with approximately 25 hairline cracks dispersed throughout, which is to be expected considering the vast number of individual pieces of glass required to execute a window of this size and complexity. There is a tight diagonal hairline located in the sky passage (second panel from the top) that runs the vertical distance of the tile alongside the right border. All of the hairlines appear stable. The window with some light surface soiling consistent with age. The window is plated up to three layers, which heightens the visual depth of the landscape composition. The internal layers of plating with a few hairline cracks in the lower right corner, visible in the catalogue illustration. The internal layers of plating with some areas of acid etching and possibly some cold painting. The outermost plated layer on the reverse side of the window comprises four large glass plates, possibly original, which appear to have been removed for cleaning at some point in the history of the piece. The reverse side of the window with putty around the outer borders. A truly breathtaking window displaying a gorgeous composition and a rich, vibrant glass selection. 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. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.