By Carter B. Horsley
Tiffany Studios produced a
spectacular line-up of extremely colorful and sculptural lamps
in and around the start of the 19th Century that greatly enlivened
Victorian interiors and reflected an Art Nouveau sensitivity to
What was remarkable about the
best lamps was the fabulous quality of the shades' colored glass
that rivaled the best of stained glass windows with the sensational,
intricate lead traceries that held the glass in the forms of dragonflies
or colorful flowers like peonies and dogwood.
The dramatic and dazzling fireworks
floated above bronze bases that were often equally distinguished
by their exquisite forms and carvings. Lot 429, for example, a
"Dragonfly" table lamp not only has an array of spread-wing
dragonflies around the base of the shade but also exotic balls
of glass supporting the tendrils of the base's "roots that
have somehow also managed to send a ball to the top of the lamp.
The overall effect is volcanic, recalling and conjuring the magic
of glass-making. The dragonfly motif was quite popular and this
auction has a few example in different colors and sometimes the
elaborate shades "sit" on rotund squat bases covered
with more glass dragonflies. Here, though, the spindly legs of
the base standing on small glass orbs evokes a mysterious and
wondrous organic world. This lamp, which comes from Minna Rosenblatt,
a leading Tiffany dealer, has a modest estimate of $125,000 to
$175,000. It sold for $194.500 including the buyer's premium
as do all results mentioned in this article.
Although in the post-World
War II era, Tiffany's is best known for diamond baubles and silver
ball-point pens, its greatest and eventually most valuable creations
will be the great lamps whose value has increased only a hundred-fold
since World War II. These are "magic lanterns" that
take over their interiors making short shrift of assorted Hudson
River paintings and the like.
Tiffany, of course, also produced
handsome desk sets and lovely tall, floral vases of irridiscent
glass that are less agressive in devouring their interiors and
therefore more socially palatable to some interior decorators
lacking the courage for true flamboyance. Think of them as Turner
sunsets, sweeping over everything in their domain with unquestionable
and unchallenged virtuosity. Damn the torpedos. Climb the masts.
Look and then perish!
Lot 434 is a rare "Laburnam"
table lamp from Tiffany Studios with rare bird dkeleton base.
The large lamp and base are quite beautiful and extraordinary.
It has an estimate of $350,000 to $500,000. It sold for $422,500.
Lot 428 is a "superb and
rare" "Salamander" table lamp by Tiffany Studios
that is 31 3/8 inches high. This is a very large table lamp that
is distinguished by its abundant and brilliant red and pink glass.
It has an estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $362,500.
Lot 432 is a fine "Dogwood"
chandelier by Tiffany Studios. It is 28 3/4 inches in diameter
and was made circa 1905. It has an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000.
It sold for $290.500.
Lot 436 is a simple but very
colorful "Peony" chandelier by Tiffany Studios that
is 29 inches in diameter. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000
and was formerly in the collection of Minna Rosenblatt. It
sold for $194,500.
While this grouping of great
Tiffany works is small, it is very memorable and really superb!
Lot 421 is a "superb and
rare" "fish-scale" chandelier with six lights by
Tiffany Studios. It was created circa 1905 and has an estimate
of $120,000 to $160,000. It failed for sell. This rather
ungainly but large chandelier is notable for its bold chandelier
fitting and the bright small shades of the six lights above it.
Lot 437 is a fine counterbalance
table lamp that is distinguished by three small but finely detailed
dragonflies incised on the shade. The lamp is 27 5/8 inches high.
It has a modest estimate of $12,000 to $18,000. It sold for
Lot 431 is a "superb"
18-light "Lily" table lamp by Tiffany Studios. The catalogue
notes that the transluscent and red amber trumpets are accentuated
by swirling white stems and intense irridisence. It is 20 1/8
inches high. The lot has a conservative estimate of $50,000 to
$90,000. It sold for $158,500.
Tiffany was a very good painter
as can be seen in Lot 402, "Still Life with Flowers,"
an oil on canvas that was painted in 1902 and measures 22 1/8
by 19 1/2 inches. It has a modest estimate of $20,000 to $30,000
as his paintings are pretty rare. It sold for $56,200.
Of the 39 offered lots,
32 sold for $3,038,250.