Tiffany Studios

"Cypriote" Vase

Auction Closed

December 8, 12:14 AM GMT


12,000 - 18,000 USD

Lot Details


Tiffany Studios

"Cypriote" Vase

circa 1896

Favrile glass

twice engraved Louis C. Tiffany, engraved L.C.T. and D151

5¼ inches (13.3 cm) high

Christie’s New York, October 2-3, 1981, lot 411
Paul Doros, The Art Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2013, pp. 41, 104 and 107 (for the present lot illustrated)

Mastering Iridescence –

The "Cypriote" Technique

In 1877, the Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased, for $60,000 in gold, nearly 22,000 objects discovered and removed from Cyprus by “General” Luigi di Cesnola, the United States consul to that country from 1865 to 1877. Americans were fascinated by the collection, much of which consisted of iridized and pock-marked ancient glass that had gradually decayed. Its impact on Louis C. Tiffany was twofold: it reinforced his desire to improve and master artificial iridescence on glass and also eventually led to his glasshouse’s production of a type of glass known today as “Cypriote.”

Iridescent vases with pitted surfaces were made by Tiffany’s glasshouse as early as 1895. Although originally thought to have been made solely by rolling broken bits of glass into the hot gather on a blowpipe, it is now evident that potassium nitrate also played an important role. It was this chemical, when mixed with the small glass shards, that bubbled and burst due to the heat of the glass on the blowpipe, creating the random oval pitting that is the primary characteristic of “Cypriote” vases.

Tiffany’s glassworks produced “Cypriote” pieces from almost its very beginning in 1893 to its close about 35 years later. Two of the pieces offered here are indicative of the firm’s earliest work while two others are from its later production years. The rather simple vase, lot 243, with its dimpled and pock-marked body of transparent blue glass, exhibits the glassblower’s unfamiliarity with both the technique as well as the company’s recently invented method of applying artificial iridescences. The other early vase (lot 241), made only a year later, aptly demonstrates the incredible expertise the gaffers achieved is such a remarkably short time. The miniature vase (lot 201), made around 1902, is an exceptionally powerful piece, with its irregular broad green band striated with gold iridescence, despite its relatively diminutive size. The two remaining “Cypriote” vases, lots 242 and 244, made approximately 18 and 12 years later respectively, are truly indicative of Tiffany’s fascination with the technique and the mastery of his glassworkers.

- PD