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Property from an Important Manhattan Collection

'Landscape with Magnolias and Irises' Window, circa 1910

'Landscape with Magnolias and Irises' Window, circa 1910
leaded and plated glass
49 ¾ in. (126.4 cm) high, 27 in. (68.6 cm) wide (sight)
57 ½ x 35 ¾ x 1 ¾ in. (146 x 90.8 x 4.5 cm) (framed)
Sotheby's, New York, 2 December 2000, lot 645
Acquired from the above by the present owner
A. Duncan, Tiffany Windows, New York, 1980, pp. 95, no. 82 (for a related example); 177 (for a related example)
H. F. McKean, The “Lost” Treasures of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1980, pp. 90-91 (for related examples)
A. Duncan, Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1992, p. 59 (for a related example)
A. Duncan, et. al., Masterworks of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1993, pp. 126-127, 132, 148-149 (for related examples)
A. Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, pp. 148-149, 564 (for related examples)
A. Cooney Frelinghuysen, Louis Comfort Tiffany and Laurelton Hall: An Artist’s Country Estate, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006, pp. 32-33 (for a related example)
D. A. Hanks, Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection, exh. cat., The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago, 2013, pp. 182-183, no. 64 (for a related example)
C. de la Bédoyère, Louis Comfort Tiffany Masterworks, London, 2020, p. 55 (for a related example)

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

Lot Essay

Tiffany Studios is celebrated today for its varied windows, not least of which was the contribution of landscape to the canon of religious iconography. Water was often an important component in religious imagery, suggesting the “river of life,” “He leadeth me to still waters,” and the rite of baptism. Small windows, such as this one, provided peaceful respite for mausoleums in garden cemeteries around the country. Distant hills evoked the afterlife, while water flowing below symbolized the passage of time. Springtime flowers, magnolias and irises, symbolized resurrection and new, glorious beginnings. The sky brightens toward the horizon representing either dawn or sunset. Appropriate for a memorial window, either time of day suggests either the end of this earthly life or, more blissfully, the beginning of the hereafter. The gentle colors of lavender, rose, and amethyst throughout evoke peace, beauty, and tranquility.
Similarities with Magnolias and Irises in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, which came from the 1908 Frank family mausoleum in Brooklyn, New York, suggests the present lot also likely came from a mausoleum. Removed from that context, however, the emotional perception of the window rises to provoke a sense of peace and rest. Today, the glory of a sunrise over water and the beauty of spring flowers enlightens and uplifts the spirit. The colored light coming through splendid glass is joyful and stunningly beautiful. The masterful use of spectacular glass evokes artistic and inspirational appreciation.
Such peaceful and attractive scenes are exemplars of the work of Tiffany Studios, who revolutionized the stained-glass window by using layered opalescent glass and textured glass to evoke form and shadow without the use of glass paint. In this window, the magnolia flowers are made of drapery glass, a thick opalescent material that was pushed into folds while still hot in the glass factory. The undulations and corrugations of the glass diffuse shadows among bright spots, emulating the folds of velvety petals in the rising sun. Similarly, light lavender tones amongst deep purple glass reveals the sun-dappled petals of the irises. Streaks and spots of lighter and darker greens in the iris leaves and the blades of another plant suggest deep foliage. Turquoise and magenta swirls intensify the depth of the water; The same tones lighten towards the hills, establishing distance and revealing the reflection of the sky. Distant mountains are bright with sun in golden peach tones while shades of green and blue on mountains nearer to the water elicit their rolling slopes. Among the magnolia flowers, the sky is blue, lavender, and pink, brightening to golden yellow at the horizon, with streaky glass painting wisps of clouds.

-- Julie L. Sloan, consultant in stained glass, writes about windows from her home in Lake Placid, NY. She works on stained-glass conservation projects as well, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple, and The Riverside Church in New York.

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