Iconic Glass: Rare Tiffany Masterworks

Launch Slideshow

Tiffany’s most highly sought-after designs will be offered in Sotheby’s upcoming Tiffany: Dreaming in Glass auction on 13 December. Among the sale’s many remarkable works will be a rare ‘Cobweb’ Table Lamp, a superb ‘Wisteria’ Table Lamp, and a ‘Magnolia and Peony’ Window. Also presented will be an exemplary group of Favrile glass vases from an Important American Collection, which conveys the diversity of Tiffany’s forms and techniques. Click ahead for highlights. 

Tiffany: Dreaming in Glass 
13 December | New York


Iconic Glass: Rare Tiffany Masterworks

  • An Important and Rare 'Cobweb and Apple Blossom' Table Lamp. Estimate $700,000–1,000,000.
    Many of Tiffany Studios’ earliest lamps, from the simplest to the most elaborate, were inspired by the world of insects depicted throughout the arts of Japan – not only in woodblock prints, but also in bronzes, ceramics and textiles. Clara Driscoll, the chief designer of the firm’s nature-based lamps and the person charged with their execution, designed the present lamp’s complex 'Cobweb and Apple Blossom' shade prior to 1902, alongside its complementary 'Wheat' base.


  • Detail of 'Cobweb and Apple Blossom' Table Lamp. Estimate $700,000–1,000,000.
  • An Important 'Wisteria' Table Lamp. Estimate $600,000–800,000.
    The ‘Wisteria’ is Tiffany Studios’ most iconic invention in the field of lamps. The present “Wisteria” lamp has the distinction of being one of the earliest examples created, evidenced by its early stamps, silhouette, and refined glass selection.  Furthermore, both the lamp shade and base bear a production number, which indicates it comes from a tightly-controlled series. The incredible colour scheme of extravagant violets, lavenders and blues was undoubtedly invented by Clara Driscoll.

  • Detail of an Important 'Wisteria' Table Lamp. Estimate $600,000–800,000.
  • 'Butterfly' Covered Box. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    The present enameled box, formerly in the collection of the Louis C Tiffany Garden Museum, Japan, depicts one of Tiffany’s favorite motifs: the butterfly. In this instance, the cover has a navy ground enhanced with overlapping butterflies hovering over stylized foliage. The insects, with their yellow serrated wings and green and violet bodies, as well as the ground, are decorated with multi-hued iridescence. Its impeccable execution and naturalistic, asymmetrical design convey the exceptional artistry and workmanship of the firm.

  • 'Magnolia and Peony' Window from the Feigenspan Mansion. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    This window was part of the thirty-seven room mansion on High Street in Newark, New Jersey housing the city’s premier brewer, Christian Feigenspan. The unusual window, which surrounds a marble fountain, was originally located in the conservatory on the first floor at the back of the house. The fountain is integral to the window’s design and may have been supplied by Tiffany Studios. In the overall composition, a fictive wall with a low parapet extends behind it, executed in limestone-coloured glass to match the marble, as if the fountain and wall were one.

  • A Rare 'Lava' Vase and Bowl, Estimates $100,000–150,000 and $30,000–50,000
    The blown-glass objects produced by Tiffany Studios were internationally acclaimed for their forms based on nature and the use of vividly coloured glass that ran the full spectrum. Among these, the firm’s Lava vases were a rare and exciting anomaly. Apparently produced only in 1906–07 and again around 1916, the motif seen here was likely inspired by Tiffany’s love for Japanese art. The Lava vases are Tiffany’s attempt to emulate, in glass, 17th-century Japanese raku-fired ceramic tea bowls.

  • A Rare Red 'Turtle Back' Chandelier. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    This exceptional chandelier is distinguished by the striking colouration of its red ‘Turtle-Back’ tiles – an exceedingly rare colour scheme in Tiffany’s ‘Turtle Back’ series. When seen with remitted light, these tiles appear a rich scarlet red. When viewed with reflected light, the strong iridised surfaces of the ‘Turtle Back’ glass display a brilliant range of jewel-tone hues. The elegance of the chandelier is further elevated by its smaller, refined scale rarely seen in this series.

  • A Rare 'Anemone' Paperweight Vase. Estimate $40,000—60,000.
    The piece presented here fully demonstrates the superior artistry of Tiffany’s glassmakers in producing paperweight vases. The numerous large and complex millefiori ‘Anemones’ are easily recognisable and superbly crafted in striated shades of blue and purple with distinct stamens and pistils. The irregular brown and yellow-tinted leaves and sinuous green stems are finely assimilated into the design. The interior has a light orange-gold iridescence that serves as a perfect background for the flowers.

  • 'Dragonfly' Table Lamp with Mosaic Base. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    The base for this 'Dragonfly' table lamp exhibits a marvelous combination of cast bronze and iridescent Favrile tesserae. It was lamps such as this example that caused one early critic to proclaim: “The superb conceptions of Mr. Louis C Tiffany, as shown in his ‘favrile glass’ and in his marvelous leaded windows, metal lamps, glass mosaics, have never been surpassed, and make our foreign fellow-craftsmen envious to despair.”

  • A Rare Figural Lamp Screen. Estimate $20,000–30,000
    At the turn of the 20th century, consumers began to embrace electric lamps over the traditional kerosene, prompting Tiffany Studios to introduce a series of lamp screens into its repertoire. The screens served to further diffuse the relatively harsh glow of electric bulbs. The hybrid creature presented here – a woman with butterfly wings – was a popular motif during the time, encapsulating the sensuality and fantasy of the Art Nouveau style. Though conceived as an accessory, the fine casting of the female figure, stunning glass selection, and skillful leadwork make this lamp screen a superb example of Tiffany’s unparalleled artistry.

  • 'Lotus' Table Lamp. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    This lamp was originally owned by Henry Augustus Lukeman, an American sculptor who specialised in historical monuments. Perhaps the best known work in the artist’s legacy is the majestic Stone Mountain, located in Atlanta, Georgia. The present “Lotus” Table Lamp once lived in the library of Lukeman's Manhattan residence, located at 160 West 86th Street.

  • ‘Clematis’ Chandelier. Estimate $60,000–80,000.
    This rare chandelier model is composed of an exceptional glass selection. The clematis blossoms are executed in variegated blue mottled glass against a background of incredible confetti and streamer glass.  The diversity of the glass and the wonderfully artistic irregular border impart this shade with wonderful dynamism and naturalism.

  • 'Millefiore' Decorated Vase. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    The present ‘Millefiore’ vase is distinguished by its impressive scale compared to other examples from the R series. Decorated with a wild, whiplash leaf-and-vine motif, this superb vase is enriched by its stunning lavender iridescence, which further accents the delicately articulated millefiore blossoms.


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