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engraved 5394M L.C. Tiffany Inc.-Favrile Exhibition Piece (partially effaced)
11⅝ inches (29.5 cm) high
Aquatic Visions –
The "Aquamarine" Technique
“Aquamarine” glass was one of the last innovations introduced by Tiffany Furnaces. Louis C. Tiffany was fascinated by water: he sailed a small sloop outside Oyster Bay, designed and produced several large fountains, and even had a small stream traverse the interior of his Laurelton Hall mansion. It is therefore not surprising that he desired a type of glassware that directly reflected his affinity for water.
In July 1913, Tiffany sent Arthur E. Saunders, one of his gaffers, to Bermuda to examine the marine life and vegetation in the surrounding tropical waters from a glass-bottomed boat. The intent was for Saunders to replicate, in glass, what he saw when he returned to Corona. The final result, after a surprisingly short period of experimentation, were “Aquamarine” vases that met with immediate critical success. Featuring thick, heavy bodies of transparent green-tinted glass encasing a highly naturalistic motif, the pieces were highlighted in magazine articles and Tiffany & Company’s Blue Book from 1914 to 1917, priced as high as $300. This exorbitant price was an indicator of how exceptionally difficult it was for the glasshouse to produce these objects, some of which weighed as much as 25 pounds. And even after the gaffer had successfully finished his role, many examples shattered and broke while being annealed.
The example offered here is likely from a group of “Aquamarine” vases Tiffany Studios exhibited at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco. A large, yellow-centered water lily, surrounded by olive-green foliage, is situated in the center of the spherical body of thick transparent green-tinted glass. The underwater effect is further heightened with a small trapped air bubble placed above each petal and the finely engraved waves on the lower half of the neck’s exterior, an enhancement unique to this vase.