1 More
4 More

'Elaborate Peony' Table Lamp, circa 1910

'Elaborate Peony' Table Lamp, circa 1910
with a 'Tree' base
leaded glass, patinated bronze
33 in. (83.8 cm) high, 22 1/4 in. (56.5 cm) diameter of shade
shade impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK 1903
base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK 553
Richard Wright, Birchrunville, Pennsylvania
The Richard Wright Collection, Session II: Decorative Arts and Furniture, Skinner, Boston, 24 October 2009, lot 307
William A. Richardson, Las Vegas, Nevada
Masterworks by Tiffany Studios: The William A. Richardson Collection, Sotheby's, New York, 13 December 2017, lot 311
Acquired from the above by the present owner
A. Duncan, Tiffany at Auction, New York, 1981, pp. 80, no. 216 (base); 89, no. 238 (base); 105, no. 282 (shade)
A. Duncan and W. Feldstein, Jr., The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, pp. 32-33 (shade)
A. Duncan, et. al., Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1993, pp. 108-109, no. 42 (shade)
J. Baal-Teshuva, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Cologne, 2001, pp. 178-179 and 322 (shade)
M. Eidelberg, A. Cooney Frelinghuysen, N. A. McClelland and L. Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 154-157 (shade)
A. Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Suffolk, 2019, pp. 126, no. 488 (base); 204, no. 792 (shade)

Brought to you by

Daphné Riou
Daphné Riou SVP, Senior Specialist, Head of Americas

Lot Essay

While Louis Comfort Tiffany often prioritized sketching in his sketchbook over finishing his schoolwork, his knowledge of horticulture was far-reaching. The peony blossom is one of many flowers that served as inspiration for Tiffany Studios’ table lamp designs. The peony blossom appeared in lamp models prior to 1906. The rare ‘Elaborate Peony’ shade offered here with the beloved ‘tree trunk’ base, did not appear until after 1910, and it was manufactured for a much shorter period than other table lamp models. The difference between the ‘Elaborate Peony’ shade and earlier peony models is that the ‘Elaborate Peony’ was inspired by a hybrid species referred to as the double peony, a type of peony with petals too numerous to count. Tiffany, more often than not, disliked hybrid species, and their appearance in the firm’s designs are rare. The double peony was the exception making the ‘Elaborate Peony’ shade all the more extraordinary.
Tiffany, who was a collector of Asian art, often used similar motifs in his lamp designs. The peony flower, strongly associated with Chinese art and culture was one of them. They were first grown in the gardens of the Sui and Tang Emperors which first associated the flower with royalty. When artisans for these powerful empires portrayed the ruler with peonies, the peony symbolized their immense power of their court. Due to the rarity of the ‘Elaborate Peony’ shade, it too, can be seen as a symbol of wealth and rank.
Tiffany, one who experimented with many artistic mediums, preferred the colors he could achieve mixing molten glass than from mixing pigments. He desired that his firm’s creations represent the color and beauty one could find in nature. In the model here, the petals of the peonies cover a spectrum of pinks, magentas, and the deepest of reds. As in nature, each petal is not limited to a single flat plane of color but is veined with shades and tints in keeping with Tiffany’s design aesthetic. Additionally, the shade includes vibrant hues and variations of green, yellow, and blue, and yet the shade is effortlessly harmonious. One way this is achieved is that there are pieces of glass scattered along the bottom of the shade that have been streaked with every color found in the shade. Finally, the simplicity of the bronze-cast base serves as a nice contrast and ties it all together. Tiffany once said, “I have always striven to fix beauty in wood or stone, or glass or pottery, in oil or water-color, by using whatever seemed fittest for the expression of beauty; that has been my creed, and I see no reason to change it.” This lamp is a perfect example of Tiffany’s pursuit of beauty fulfilled.

More from Tiffany

View All
View All