Peony lamp

Tiffany studios

New York, early 20th century

Material: Glass and bronze

Size: 200 cm high

review by gherardo turchi

Such a rare floor lamp was realized in the early twentieth century. Its coloured Peony shaped glass hat is undoubtedly worthy of note.

Louis Comfort Tiffany was one of the most skilled American master glass workers between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He was a renowned jeweller as well.

As Charles Lewis Tiffany’s older son, who founded Tiffany & Coin 1837, Louis was born in New York in 1848. Since his childhood, he showed such an interest both in art and painting he would become one of George Inness and Samuel Coleman’s apprentices in New York first and Leon Bally’s in Paris then.

When he was twenty-four, he got into the production of artistic glass items. He put his own glassworks in place in 1885 to realize objects made of opalescent glass, although the transparent one was much more popular.

In 1894 Louis patented a new method to work and decorate blown glass. After turning fabrile, an ancient English word meaning “handmade”, into favrile, much more elegant according to him, he got such a new glass working technique. It consisted in putting some small amounts of coloured glass into the bolus being blown to decorate it. The whole procedure was to be repeated several times as we had to blow into the bolus while it was being heated up to get it completed.

Art Nouveau style, better known – in Italy mainly – as Liberty style because of its sinuous floral shaped motives, covered a lot of sectors such as architecture, jewellery, lighting, interior and gadgets design.

Louis Tiffany played then upon 1900 Paris Universal Exposition to let people appreciate his artistic objects. According to his own method, patience and accuracy were highly required to realize them because of their complex structure.

Joining such a refined elegance with his own tendency to innovation, Louis Comfort’s glass production ranged from lamps to vases. The first sign he used to certify them (LCT New York) was suddenly replaced with a new one (Tiffany Studios New York) and a serial number.

Louis Comfort died at eighty-five in 1933 as the father of American Art Nouveau. He realized then a huge variety of lamps: Wisteria, Dragonfly, Daffodil and Peony are some of the most renowned models.

The Peony shaped hat of the roof lamp we’re analysing has its own sign (Tiffany Studios New York, n. 1574). The lower part of the lampshade is finely adorned with some vividly coloured blown glass Peony shaped items. Focusing on each of them, we can appreciate the red tones gradually shading outwards to get the whole lampshade brighter. The green ones range from bright emerald to pale yellow with some dark green and greyish stripes. They give the artwork the refined transparency representing one of Tiffany’s trademarks. A gilded bronze spiral shaped item is at the top of the lamp hat as well.  

“Tiffany Studios New York” is signed on the dark bronze base. It’s finely adorned with twelve floral stem looking inlays turning in a concentric circle each.

We can then appreciate similar artworks belonging to Tiffany collection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York or by leafing through Egon Neustadt’s The lamps of Tiffany (Fairfield Press edition, 1984).

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