One Collector’s Exquisite Tiffany Masterworks

Launch Slideshow

Thoughtfully curated over two decades, the extraordinary Tiffany collection of William A Richardson is that of a true connoisseur. Demonstrating an encyclopedic range of the glass studio’s production, the collection showcases Tiffany’s most iconic designs, from lush florals to luminous geometrics. Sotheby’s is honoured to present a dedicated auction of this remarkable collection on 13 December. Among the many highlights are a showstopping Hanging Head 'Dragonfly' Floor Lamp and an 'Elaborate Peony' Table Lamp as well as rare examples of the firm’s mosaics, fancy goods and lead-glass windows. Click ahead for a preview of these Tiffany treasures. 

Masterworks by Tiffany Studios: The William A. Richardson Collection
13 December | New York 

One Collector’s Exquisite Tiffany Masterworks

  • ‘Magnolia' Floor Lamp. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    This 28-inch domed 'Magnolia' shade is the largest model that Tiffany Studios produced, and the naturally full magnolia blossoms are well suited to the ample scale of this form. Flowering magnolias adorned many of the domestic leaded-glass windows that Tiffany Studios created at the turn of the 20th century and only later did the designers in the lamp department adapt this motif for lamps. 

  • Detail of ‘Magnolia' Floor Lamp. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    Unlike so many other lamp designs, the 'Magnolia' remained in production until 1924. Its endurance is probably to be explained not only by the sheer splendour of the design, but also by the general usefulness of large floor lamps: the large, open dome supplies an ample source of practical illumination.


  • Elaborate Peony’ Table Lamp. Estimate $350,000–500,000.
    It comes as no surprise that Tiffany and his designers chose peony blossoms as a subject for several different lamp shades. Within the firm’s oeuvre, especially lamp shades, there was a marked preference for spring flowers: daffodils, tulips, apple blossoms, dogwoods, crocuses, magnolias, wisterias. Moreover, the peony offers not only a richness of full blooms but also a wide range of colours – from the palest pink to the deepest crimson. 

  • ‘River of Life’ Roundel Window. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    In the present work a distant mountain vista with river and trees forms the backdrop for field of poppies executed in rare and expensive purple-ruby glass coloured with gold. Originally installed in the Free Hospital for Women in Brookline, Massachusetts, the window was one of three leaded-glass windows installed in the hospital. 

  • Hanging Head ‘Dragonfly’ Floor Lamp. Estimate $300,000–500,000.
    This Hanging Head ‘Dragonfly’ floor lamp embodies Tiffany craftsmanship with its striking, sublime colouration. The shade is accented with large cabochon jewels whose colours oscillate between shades of radiant blue and violet, changing with one’s view point. Tiffany acheived this dynamic effect by adding a second layer of ultramarine blue glass behind the opalescent cabochons. 

  • Detail of Hanging Head ‘Dragonfly’ Floor Lamp. Estimate $300,000–500,000.
    The bright sapphire blue jewels in this shade, together with the insect’s rich blue eyes and the blue-green jewel tones of the dragonflies’ wings, introduce accents of bright colour to the moody palette.

  • ‘Wisteria’ Table Lamp. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    True to nature, Tiffany's ‘Wisteria’ lamp shades are generally executed in a blue and purple palette, extending occasionally into pink and aqua. However, such a complex design afforded Tiffany’s glass selectors with ample opportunity to experiment with colour. 


  • Detail of ‘Wisteria’ Table Lamp. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    The present ‘Wisteria’ exhibits rich cobalt, amethyst and ultramarine, contrasted with pale lavender and pearly white. The overall effect achieved is that of layers upon layers of wisteria blossoms as they would occur in nature, receding into space and cascading with dynamic, graceful irregularity.

  • A Rare Mosaic Pedestal from the Ralph Linder Pope Residence, Brookline Massachusetts. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    Tiffany Studios produced remarkably few freestanding pieces for domestic furnishings and the pedestal offered here is the only known example of its type. Executed in alternating bands of green-tinted glass and mosaic coloured glass together with gold tesserae and mother of pearl, the pedestal is finished with a green onyx base – a decorative element rarely found in fancy goods. Included in a 1913 photo of the company’s mosaic shop, this pedestal was purchased by Ralph Linder Pope to serve as a stand for their ‘Wisteria’ Table lamp. 


  • An Early and Rare ‘Allamander’ Floor Lamp. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    The design of this Allamander shade is rare, possibly unique. Although Tiffany Studios produced two other shades with this floral theme, neither recorded model corresponds in size and shape to the one presented here. Moreover, this shade has no tag identifying the model number. It is a very early design; a photograph of the Tiffany Studios workshop published in Cosmopolitan magazine in 1899 shows a workman soldering the leading on this Allamander shade. If the model was introduced prior to 1900, it was apparently stopped prior to the publication of the 1906 Price List. 

  • Detail of an Early and Rare ‘Allamander’ Floor Lamp. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    In this rare shade design, blossoms are piled one over the next, forming a carpet of brilliant yellow shading to orange. The rare design is further enlivened by the variety of texture glass combined with smooth, mottled glass and striated rippled glass, producing a rich and densely coloured effect.

  • An Early and Rare ‘Octopus’ Chandelier. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    This dramatically shaped hanging shade is known popularly as the ‘Octopus’ shade due to the bronze ribs that radiate out from the centre. As one of the earliest known Tiffany Studios hanging shades intended for domestic use, this particular example exhibits intensely mottled yellow glass along with a curtain of linked glass ‘chain mail’ squares that was undoubtedly a special request by the original owner.

  • Detail of an Early and Rare ‘Octopus’ Chandelier. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    The way that the ribs of the 'Octopus' chandelier curl at their outer terminations is a decorative flourish that perhaps furthers the resemblance to an octopus, but the fluent curves also reflect the calligraphic play of lines in the then-emerging Art Nouveau style.

  • ‘Poppy’ Chandelier. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    One of Tiffany’s most artistic and complex floral designs, this composition is painterly and highly naturalistic with poppy blossoms rendered as though bending forwards and backwards, in densely layered and foreshortened perscpective, that creates the pictorial illusion that the flowerbed is receding into space.

  • ‘Dragonfly’ Table Lamp with a Rare ‘Cattail Pond Lily’ Base. Estimate $150,000–200,000.
    Louis Comfort Tiffany freely used nature as his muse for his lamp designs, which made tangible the beauty of the flora and fauna around him. The pairing of the present ‘Dragonfly’ shade with its ‘Cattail Pond Lily’ base evokes the image of a humid summer day, with humming insects over a boggy swamp. As a unit, the shade and base together create a lyrical, picturesque landscape. The base in particular, depicting tall bundles of grass emerging from a collection of lily pads, is articulated with such softness and realism it hardly resembles the hard cast bronze from which it is made.

  • ‘Laburnum’ Floor Lamp. Estimate $180,000–240,000.
    Presented here with a rare ‘Twisted Vine’ floor base, this ‘Laburnum’ floor lamp is characteristic of Tiffany’s animated use of organic forms. A richly modelled bronze base terminates in an undulating shade presenting bows of vibrant golds and lemon yellows against a bright background of lavenders and sapphire blues.

  • An Early and Rare Kerosene Table Lamp. Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    This early Tiffany Studios table lamp is a marvelous concoction of bronze and glass, uniting the past and the present, the decorative and the functional. The elaborate base was one of the most expensive of the ‘blown glass in wire’ bases originally offered by the firm and was limited to the years just before and after 1900.

  • A Rare ‘Turtle-Back’ Wall Sconce. Estimate $20,000–30,000.
    This rare form is characterised by its masterfully executed coiled wire decoration and the beauty of its iridised Turtle-Back tiles. This lot is further distinguished because it retains its original elaborate wall plate with applied bronze decoration.


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