Lot 215
  • 215

TIFFANY STUDIOS | A Rare “Dragonfly” Floor Lamp

300,000 - 500,000 USD
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  • Tiffany Studios
  • A Rare “Dragonfly” Floor Lamp
  • shade with small early tag impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORKbase impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/379
  • leaded glass, patinated bronze
  • 64 in. (162.6 cm) high22 1/2  in. (57.2 cm) diameter of shade
  • circa 1905
with a “Chased Pod” Junior floor base


For the shade:
Private Family Collection, New York
Christie’s New York, December 10, 1988, lot 522
Acquired from the above by the present owner


Dr. Egon Neustadt, The Lamps of Tiffany, New York, 1970, p. 179 (for the present shade)
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany At Auction, New York, 1981, p. 137 (for the standard shade model)
William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, p. 125 (for the present shade variant)
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany's Glass, Bronzes, Lamps: A Complete Collector's Guide, New York, 1989, p. 128 (for the present shade variant)
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: The Collected Works of Robert Koch, Atglen, PA, 2001, p. 240 (for the present shade variant)
Alastair Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, p. 305 (for the standard shade model)
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 34 and 96-97 (for the standard shade model)
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2007, pp. 156 (for the present shade variant) and 215 (for the standard shade model)
Martin Eidelberg, Nina Gray and Margaret K. Hofer, A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, exh. cat., New York Historical Society, 2007, p. 62, fig. 28 (for the standard shade model)
Margaret K. Hofer and Rebecca Klassen, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios: Nature Illuminated, New York, 2016, pp. 53 and 55 (for the standard shade model)


Overall in very good condition. This shade is distinguished by its rare scalloped border and rich glass selection. The upper register of the shade is articulated in intensely saturated cerulean blue, which descends into rich emerald and shamrock green, bright yellow, and finally fiery yellow-orange in the lower scalloped border. The dragonflies are articulated in a more naturalistic color palette, which warm brown bodies and subtle mauve wings. The shade is comprised of predominantly rippled glass, including the largest cabochons, imparting the shade with a highly aquatic sensibility. The shade with approximately 16 hairline cracks throughout, stable. The shade with some traces of surface soiling concentrated to the contours adjacent to the leadlines, consistent with age. The leading in the upper register of the shade surrounding the shade ring, along with isolated areas in the lower scalloped border, appear to have been stabilized at some point in the history of the piece. The etched filigree wing overlays are all intact and in very good condition with some traces of oxidation, not visually distracting. The base is in very good condition and displays a rich russet brown patina. The bronze surfaces with scattered minor surface scratches, abrasions, and minor traces of oxidation to the recessed contours of the design, consistent with age and gentle handling. With period sockets. With a period finial in very good condition with scattered minor surface scratches and abrasions, and with a few small losses to the patina on the tip of the knop, consistent with age and handling. A magnificent example of this rare model; when viewed firsthand this lamp is quite dazzling and radiant.
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

Dragonflies were a popular subject in the decorative arts sphere at the turn of the century, and one that Tiffany represented in myriad ways in his leaded glass lampshades. Their slender bodies and elegant wings were brilliantly reimagined into a conventionalized motif, their heads pointed down and wings outspread, encircling both conical and domical shades in varying sizes. Not only are the insects visually striking on their own, but their aquatic habitats presented ample opportunity to Tiffany’s artisans to experiment with color and texture to create a strongly naturalistic effect.

The present “Dragonfly” shade is a superlative example of a rare variant of one of Tiffany’s most iconic models: the “Hanging Head” dragonfly shade, which was likely designed by Clara Driscoll. The present example is distinguished by its unusual scalloped lower border, few of which are known to exist. Its glass selection, however, is perhaps its most unusual and special quality. The upper register of the shade is executed in brilliant cerulean blue, descending into lower registers of rich emerald green, vibrant yellow-greens, and finally fiery orange and amber along the bottom border, offsetting the rich red of the dragonflies’ bodies. Almost all of the background glass is executed in complex rippled glass, creating an aqueous effect as though the dragonflies were gently skimming the surface of a pond. An unusual feature of this shade is that, in addition to the small oval and circular cabochon jewels that are standard to this shade pattern, what would be the largest oval cabochon in the upper middle register is actually executed in rippled glass. This unexpected design choice further underscores the aquatic nature of the shade.