Property formerly in the Collection of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.

Tiffany Studios

"Lava" Vase

Auction Closed

December 8, 12:14 AM GMT


70,000 - 100,000 USD

Lot Details


Property formerly in the Collection of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.

Tiffany Studios

"Lava" Vase

circa 1907

Favrile glass

engraved 2323C L.C. Tiffany-Favrile

6¼ inches (15.9 cm) high

6½ inches (16.5 cm) diameter

Minna Rosenblatt, New York
Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., Norfolk, Virginia, 1987
Sotheby’s New York, The Estate of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.: Important Art Nouveau and Art Deco, June 16, 1989, lot 396
Hugh McKean, The “Lost” Treasures of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1980, p. 171, fig. 171 (for a related example)
Stuart Greenspan, “Driven to Collect,” House & Garden, vol. 161, June 1989, p. 32 (for the present lot illustrated)
Vivienne Couldrey, The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany, Edison, NJ, 2001, p. 103 (for a related example)
Paul Doros, The Art Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2013, p. 121 (for the present lot illustrated)

A Legendary Anomaly –

The "Lava" Technique

The blown glass objects produced by Tiffany Studios were internationally acclaimed for their forms based on nature and the use of vividly colored glass that ran the full gamut of the spectrum. The firm’s so-called “Lava” vases were a rare and exciting anomaly. Apparently produced only in 1906-1907 and again around 1916, it was originally theorized that the motif was inspired by Louis C. Tiffany’s observation of Mt. Aetna erupting during one of his many European trips. That story, however, has been proven to be apocryphal. A far more likely design source can be found in Tiffany’s love of Japanese art, which had a significant influence on much of his aesthetics. He was a serious collector of Asian decorative arts, including ceramics, and “Lava” vases are Tiffany’s fairly obvious attempt to emulate, in glass, 17th Century Japanese raku-fired ceramic tea bowls. 

Lots 211 and 212, both from the initial production period, are among the finest examples ever produced by the company. They superbly demonstrate all the elements that make “Lava” vases so desirable: asymmetrical bodies with uneven, slightly undulating rims and multi-hued exterior iridescences; navy-cobalt overlays, with a texture like weathered leather, interspersed with irregular patches exposing the transparent yellow ground; and iridescent gold threadings and applications of varying dimensions and thicknesses dripped around the body. The bright gold iridescence on the interiors serves as a distinct counterpoint to the dark blue exterior. 

The extreme rarity of “Lava” vases is due to the incredible technical difficulties involved in making a multi-layered object of different glasses with the additional complication of thick, applied sections. It is also highly likely that they were too artistically adventurous for most early 20th Century collectors. One hundred and fifteen years later, “Lava” vases are considered by many to best epitomize the creative supremacy of Tiffany’s blown Favrile glass.

- PD