Lot 211
  • 211

TIFFANY STUDIOS | An Important “Elaborate Peony” Floor Lamp

600,000 - 800,000 USD
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  • Tiffany Studios
  • An Important “Elaborate Peony” Floor Lamp
  • shade impressed TIFFANY STVDIOS N.Y. 1903base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/7985 based inscribed with Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., accession number GAT 82.34 and with paper label inscribed SL.69.75.2A/CHRYSLER
  • leaded glass, patinated bronze
  • 67 3/4  in. (172.1 cm) high22 1/4  in. (56.5 cm) diameter of shade
  • circa 1915
with a "Chased Pod" Junior floor base and "Pig Tail" finial


Collection of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. , Norfolk, Virginia
Sotheby's New York, The Estate of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.: Important Art Nouveau and Art Deco, June 16, 1989, lot 38
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Alastair Duncan, Tiffany At Auction, New York, 1981, pp. 105 and 141 (for the shade)
William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, p. 33 (for the shade)
Alastair Duncan, Martin Eidelberg and Neil Harris, Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, London, 1989, p. 108 (for the shade)
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany's Glass, Bronzes, Lamps: A Complete Collector's Guide, New York, 1989, p. 128 (for the shade)
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, p. 156 (for the shade)
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2007, p. 182 (for the shade)


Overall in very good condition. The present lamp was formerly in the collection of renowned Tiffany collector Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. This magnificent shade is executed in a robust and intensely saturated color palette. The peonies are depicted in various stages of bloom in range of luscious red and pink tones, from crimson to coral to magenta. The green foliage is executed in a wide spectrum of green tones, including emerald, shamrock, seafoam, and aqua. The background passages are articulated in vibrant sky blue in the upper register, which transitions to the lower register to include a number of vibrant accent colors, such as bright pink, lime green, turquoise, violet, and fuschia. The rich and elaborate color palette strongly evokes a garden in late spring, when the colors are at their fullest and greatest variety. The shade with approximately 30 hairline cracks dispersed throughout, all stable and not visually detracting. This is a reasonable and expected number when considering the vast number of individual glass tiles required to execute a scale of this scale and complexity. The shade with a few isolated areas where the leading appears to have been stabilized at some point in the history of the shade; it is possible that a few select glass tiles in these areas have been replaced, however the glass looks visually harmonious to the rest of the shade. The shade with some extremely minor and light surface soiling concentrated to the contours adjacent to the leadlines, consistent with age. The base is in very good condition and displays a rich brown patina. The bronze surfaces with scattered minor surface scratches, abrasions, and light wear consistent with age and gentle handling. The bronze with some minor traces of oxidation and surface soiling to the recessed contours. The base cushion is applied with the Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., accession number, GAT 82.34, which is only visible upon close inspection. The sockets and paddle switches all appear original and undisturbed. With a later replaced "Pig Tail" finial in very good condition. An exceptional example of this highly desirable and iconic lamp model displaying an outstanding glass selection and superb coloration.
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

The Collecting Legacy of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.

Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. (1909-1988) was a fascinatingly complex individual. The elder son of the founder of the Chrysler Corporation, he attended Dartmouth College, where he was a classmate and friend of Nelson Rockefeller’s. During his junior year in 1931, he withdrew from school and decided to travel throughout Europe. There he met legendary artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Henri Matisse, and Fernand Léger, among others. He acquired works from many of them, which were the beginnings of his fabled collection of 20th Century Art.

Chrysler also had an affinity for decorative objects, especially the works of Louis Tiffany. The Chrysler summer estate at Kings Point on the North Shore of Long Island was less than 20 miles from Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall mansion in Oyster Bay. Shortly before Chrysler left for Europe, Tiffany visited the Chryslers and invited young Walter to accompany him to Laurelton Hall. The resulting friendship lasted only two years because of Tiffany’s untimely death in 1933, but the subsequent visits and the developing relationship had a profound effect upon Chrysler. As he later reminisced: “The opportunity of reviewing the lifetime efforts of genius and of learning at first-hand the inspirations and results of it was indeed an unforgettable experience…. No one could visit Laurelton Hall…without entering the heart and mind of one of the most creative and imaginative taste-makers the United States has produced.”

This led to the formation of one of the world’s finest public collections of works created by Louis Tiffany and his affiliated companies. Now housed in the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, the objects represent a full survey of Tiffany’s diverse production and include superlative examples of Tiffany’s blown glass, leaded glass windows, metalware, enamels and ceramics. Perhaps most extraordinary are the Tiffany lamps Walter Chrysler purchased. Never one to follow trends, Chrysler depended solely on his discerning eye and brilliant taste and collected Tiffany lamps well before they again became fashionable in the early 1980s. The two lamps offered here and discussed on the following pages—a magnificent "Elaborate Peony" Floor Lamp (lot 211) and a superlative "Nasturtium" Floor Lamp (lot 212), formerly in Chrysler's collection—completely justify his aesthetic judgement.  

Walter Chrysler, Jr. is frequently overlooked when the pioneers of Tiffany collectors are mentioned. He was, however, at the forefront of the movement, beginning in the late 1950s, that forced art critics to re-evaluate the forgotten and neglected works of Louis Comfort Tiffany. These two lamps epitomize the genius of both the collector and the artist.

Former curator of glass at the Chrysler Museum (Norfolk, Virginia) and author of The Art Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany (New York: Vendome Press), 2013.

The present “Elaborate Peony” Floor Lamp is a phenomenal example of the model, which was first introduced around 1913. The yellow-centered flowers, depicted in various stages of growth, are executed in vibrant shades of red, ranging from cardinal to scarlet to crimson, with some of the color so dense as to be almost opaque. These are stunning against the stems and leafage in various tones of green, some created by the use of foliage, or “confetti,” glass. The background glass, in hues of powder blue, violet, purple and periwinkle, some of it streaked in red, is equally exceptional. In its entirety, the overall illusion of peonies in a gentle breeze at dusk is superbly conceived.