Property from an Important Private Collection, New York

Tiffany Studios

"Lava" Vase

Auction Closed

December 8, 10:47 PM GMT


30,000 - 50,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from an Important Private Collection, New York

Tiffany Studios

"Lava" Vase

circa 1911-1912

favrile glass

engraved L.C. Tiffany-Favrile 2119G and with the firm's paper label

4 3/4 in. (12.1 cm) high

Joseph F. Conroy
Sotheby’s Parke-Bernet, New York, May 2, 1969, lot 36
The Marion D. Riseman Collection 
Sotheby's, New York, The Marion S. Riseman Collection of Tiffany Glass, October 30, 1975, lot 13
The John and Katsy Mecom Collection, Houston
Sotheby's New York, The John and Katsy Mecom Collection, October 3, 1992, lot 285
Acquired from the above by the present owner

These present two Lava vases are superior examples as they superbly feature all the elements that make this series so desirable: somewhat asymmetrical, dimpled and creased bodies with uneven, slightly undulating, rims and a multi-hued iridescence; irregular navy-cobalt overlays, having a texture like weathered leather, with jagged openings exposing the transparent yellow ground; and thickly applied iridescent gold trailings of varying dimensions dripped around the body in relief. The bright gold interior iridescence serves as a distinct counterpoint to the dark blue exterior.

The extreme rarity of Lava vases is largely due to the incredible difficulties involved in crafting a multi-layered object of different glasses with the additional complication of thick, applied sections. This is especially evident in the taller of the two vases offered here. Sometime during its manufacture, a pronounced dimple somehow developed in the middle of the body. Most glasshouses of the period would have discarded the vase and started over. The gaffer at Tiffany Furnaces, however, apparently decided that he had put too much effort into the piece and that it was well worth rescuing, so he improvised a Favrile glass “patch” over the section. This same technique is also seen in a similar Lava vase in the permanent collection of the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia (object no. 71.6194).

Although some might consider this patch a serious flaw, it serves as a clear indication of the “accidents” Tiffany actively encouraged from his glassworkers and visibly reinforces his company’s oft-repeated claim that each blown Favrile glass object was unique and should be considered on a par with any of the world’s finest paintings or sculptures.

Paul Doros