TIFFANY STUDIOS | A RARE "FRUIT" TABLE LAMP
Property from the Collection of Jeep and Carla Harned
A RARE "FRUIT" TABLE LAMP
with a rare internally illuminated "Turtle-Back" base
leaded glass, patinated bronze
shade impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK 1519-4
base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/355
33¼ in. (84.5 cm) high
24¼ in. (61.6 cm) diameter of shade
For the shade:
Lillian Nassau, New York
Burt Sugarman, Los Angeles
Christie's New York, December 10, 1998, lot 371
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Dr. Egon Neustadt, The Lamps of Tiffany, New York, 1970, pp. 35 and 158 (for the shade); p. 155 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany At Auction, New York, 1981, p. 122, no. 330 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, p. 111 (for the shade); pp. 103 and 125 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
Alastair Duncan, Fin de Siècle Masterpieces from the Silverman Collection, New York, 1989, pp. 24 (for the shade) and 28 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany's Glass, Bronzes, Lamps: A Complete Collector's Guide, New York, 1989, p. 128 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
Takeo Horiuchi, ed., The World of Louis Comfort Tiffany: A Selection from the Anchorman Collection, Nagoya, Japan, 1994, p. 72 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1998, p. 71 (for a watercolor study of the present shade model)
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: The Collected Works of Robert Koch, Atglen, PA, 2001, p. 240 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
Alastair Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, p. 305 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 72 (for the above mentioned watercolor study), 83 (for the base with mosaic inlays), 84-87 (for the shade) and 196 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2007, p. 72, no. 275 and p. 155, no. 641 (for the base with mosaic inlays); p. 106, no. 430, p. 107, no. 436 and p. 160, no. 657 (for the shade); p. 189, no. 739 (for the base)
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. 69 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
Margaret K. Hofer and Rebecca Klassen, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios: Nature Illuminated, New York, 2016, p. 113 (for the shade); pp. 124 and 127 (for the base with mosaic inlays)
Louis Tiffany’s well-documented knowledge of botany extended beyond flowers and his expertise included both vegetables and fruits. The varied hues, colors, shapes and textures of the latter were perfect subjects for the revolutionary opalescent glass that was being developed for Tiffany at the Louis Heidt glasshouse in Brooklyn beginning in 1881. It was about that time that Tiffany received an important commission to decorate the New York City home of George Kemp, a pharmaceutical magnate. He chose to feature in Kemp’s dining room a window that depicted “peaches, pears and grapes hung half-hidden among the leaf clusters on a delicate trellis work. The glass has been so dexterously manipulated that all the delicate tints in the fruit are brought out true to nature, while a soft fleecy sky forms a perfect background to the dainty scene.”
The theme appealed to Tiffany on several levels beyond mere aesthetics. The sumptuous ripening fruit signified the abundance, richness and maturity of life before its inevitable decline. Specific fruits also had a deeply religious significance in Christianity. Grapes symbolized pleasure, prosperity and abundance as well as dedication, devotion and hard work. Apples, originally deemed as the “forbidden fruit,” represented knowledge and immortality in addition to the fall of man and sin.
The portrayal of fruit was explored in another of Tiffany’s early efforts. The primary focus of his Flower, Fish and Fruit window, created for Miss. M.E. Garrett of Baltimore in 1885 (now in the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art), is a large, low central bowl overflowing with an abundance of pears, apples, grapes and plums against an ornate floral background. The theme gradually evolved and achieved perfection in the four distinct panels that comprise the Four Seasons window that debuted at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle. It was later installed in the living room of Tiffany’s Laurelton Hall mansion and is now in the collection of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (Winter Park, FL). The Autumn panel is of particular interest, being comprised of apple tree branches laden with fruit intermingled with grape vines and clusters below a variegated blue sky.
The exceedingly rare "Fruit" lamp offered here, the fourth example ever made, was one of the earliest models created by the Tiffany Studios, as signified by the inclusion of a dash number, and the shade was discontinued by 1906. Possibly designed by Clara Driscoll, the shade’s resemblance to the 1900 Autumn panel is readily apparent. The Baldwin apples, a variety that is now a rarity but was the most popular apple in New York and New England at the time, are shown in various stages of ripening, ranging in color from a yellow-streaked green and apricot to a vibrant red with darker swirls. Situated among the apples and the blue-tinged green foliage are numerous grape clusters in shades of green, scarlet, blue, cobalt and violet against a lush blue background that harkens to that used in the Autumn panel.
The magnificent “Turtle-Back” base is the ideal foil to the shade. Beautifully cast in bronze that was enhanced with a rich brown patina with green highlights, the upper section is augmented with a band of eight large iridescent green Turtle-Back tiles that, when lit from the interior, wonderfully compliments the leafage on the shade. Above this band, a ring of smaller irregular rectangles was cast that mimic the turtle-back tiles. Considered as a single entity, this lamp is a superlative object that brilliantly displays the artistic culmination of Louis Tiffany’s exploration of the motif.