Property from the Estate of Gabriele and Robert Lee

Tiffany Studios

"Wisteria" Table Lamp

Auction Closed

December 8, 10:47 PM GMT


450,000 - 600,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from the Estate of Gabriele and Robert Lee

Tiffany Studios

"Wisteria" Table Lamp

circa 1904

with a "Tree" base

leaded glass, patinated bronze

interior of shade crown impressed 1073 and 13

top of the base column impressed 1073 and 13

base plate impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS/NEW YORK/1073

underside of outer base cushion impressed 13

26 1/4 in. (66.7 cm) high

18 1/2 in. (47 cm) diameter of shade

Private Collection, New York
Sotheby’s New York, December 6, 1986, lot 195
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: Rebel in Glass, New York, 1964, pl. v
Dr. Egon Neustadt, The Lamps of Tiffany, New York, 1970, pp. 215-220
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany At Auction, New York, 1981, pp. 89, no. 238 and 148, no. 391
William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, p. 37
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany's Glass, Bronzes, Lamps: A Complete Collector's Guide, New York, 1989, p. 131
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: The Collected Works of Robert Koch, Atglen, PA, 2001, pp. 74, 242 and 284
Alastair Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, pp. 292-293
Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, p. 107
Alastair Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2007, p. 67, no. 254
Martin Eidelberg, Nina Gray and Margaret K. Hofer, A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, London, 2007, p. 48
Timeless Beauty, The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany, exh. cat., The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Atglen, PA, 2016, p. 119
Louis Tiffany was enamored with all flowering vines, but perhaps none as much as the wisteria. Native to Asia, the Japanese variety, originally simply known as the “blue vine,” was introduced to the United States in 1830 and soon named after the American anatomist and physician Caspar Wistar. Tiffany was an avid collector of Asian arts and crafts and was likely well aware that the wisteria in Japan symbolized long life and immortality, as well as signifying love and tenderness. His affection for the plant is even apparent in his landscaping of Laurelton Hall, Tiffany’s Long Island mansion, where he planned for wisteria to grow over large sections of the structure and elsewhere on the estate. That, along with the vine’s rapid popularity, led directly to the incorporation of the plant in all aspects his decorative designs.

It is no surprise that Tiffany Studios decided to transform the wisteria into a leaded glass lamp shade. Clara Driscoll, the head of the firm’s Women’s Glass Cutters Department, is credited with the design, most probably with Louis Tiffany’s guidance and suggestions. The lamp made its first appearance in late 1902 and received immediate critical recognition. Although priced at the exorbitant sum of $400, the model soon became one of the company’s best-selling lamps.

The lamp offered here is a superior example and aptly displays the many reasons for the model’s world-wide popularity. Pendant from the finely cast openwork patinated bronze crown, that superbly replicates the twisting and twining vine, are lush opalescent racemes, in shades of sapphire, sky blue, lavender, lilac and pearlescent white, that descend to the irregular lower border. These blossoms are interspersed with vibrant green, olive and chartreuse foliage along the upper half.

The Wisteria lamp provides perhaps the finest evidence of the extraordinary skills possessed by the “Tiffany Girls.” Over 2,000 pieces of glass had to be individually inspected, chosen, cut and fitted to create a magnificent illusion of pendulous wisteria blossoms swaying in a gentle breeze. The model equally demonstrates Louis Tiffany’s unsurpassed genius in translating his deep love of nature into timeless works of art.

Paul Doros