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Important and Rare 'Dragonfly' Table Lamp, circa 1905

Important and Rare 'Dragonfly' Table Lamp, circa 1905
with a rare 'Cattail Pond Lily' base
leaded glass, patinated bronze
24 in. (61 cm) high, 20 ½ in. (52 cm) diameter of shade
shade with a small early tag impressed TIFFANY STVDIOS NEW YORK
canister impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK 1261
Sotheby's, New York, 18 November 1994, lot 555 (shade)
Lillian Nassau, New York
Private Florida Collection
Dreaming in Glass: Masterworks by Tiffany Studios, Sotheby's, New York, 8 December 2021, lot 308
Acquired from the above by the present owner
M. T. Priestman, Lamps and Art and Economy in Home Decoration, New York, 1908, p. 138A (for a period illustration of the shade and base model)
R. Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: Rebel in Glass, New York, 1964, pl. iv (shade model)
Dr. Egon Neustadt, The Lamps of Tiffany, New York, 1970, pp. 32, no. 24 (shade model); 99, no. 144 (base model)
R. Koch, Louis C. Tiffany’s Glass, Bronzes, Lamps, New York, 1971, pp. 125, no. 193 (base model); 128, no. 200 (shade model)
H. F. McKean, The “Lost” Treasures of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1980, p. 189 (shade model)
A. Duncan, Tiffany At Auction, New York, 1981, pp. 62, no. 169 (shade model); 65, no. 177 (shade and base model); 88, no. 236 (base model); 105, no. 283 (shade model); 110, no. 296 (shade model); 135, no. 359 (shade model); 137, no. 364 (shade model)
W. Feldstein, Jr. and A. Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, pp. 22-23 (shade model); 132-133 (base model)
A. Duncan, Fin de Siècle Masterpieces from the Silverman Collection, New York, 1989, p. 39 (base model)
R. Koch, Louis C. Tiffany's Glass, Bronzes, Lamps: A Complete Collector's Guide, New York, 1989, pp. 18 (shade model) and 125 (base model)
A. Duncan, Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1992, p. 105 (shade model)
A. Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, pp. 17 and 294 (base model)
M. Eidelberg, A. Cooney Frelinghuysen, N. A. McClelland and L. Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 27, fig. 30 (for a period advertisement depicting the base model); 162-163, pl. 47 (base model); 174-175, pl. 52 (base model);
M. Eidelberg, N. Gray, and M. K. Hofer, A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, exh. cat., The New York Historical Society, New York, 2007, pp. 54-55, fig. 23 (base model)
D. A. Hanks, Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection, exh. cat., Richard H. Driehaus Museum, Chicago, 2013, pp. 20-21 (shade model); 52-53, no. 2 (shade and base model); 54-55 (shade model)
M. K. Hofer and R. Klassen, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios: Nature Illuminated, The Neustadt Collection at the New York Historical Society, exh. cat., New York Historical Society, New York, 2016, pp. 47 (base model); 54, no. 20 (shade model); 56, no. 22 (shade model); 57, no. 23 (shade model)
A. Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2019, pp. 11 (for a period advertisement depicting the base model); 55, no. 178 and 111, no. 433 (base model); 106, no. 413 and 172, no. 696 (shade model)
P. Crist, Tiffany Lamps: A History, Mosaic Shades, Volume I, Santa Fe Springs, 2023, pp. 132, no. 5-100 (shade model); 137, no. 5-121 (shade model); 138, nos. 5-124 and 5-125 (base model); 174, nos. 6-98 (base model) and 6-99 (shade); 175, no. 6-100 (base model); 207, nos. 7-53 and 7-54 (shade model); 231, nos. 8-13 and 8-14 (for period advertisements of the base model); 248, no. 8-84 (base model); 257, no. 8-114 (shade model); 289, no. 9-85 (shade and base model)

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

Lot Essay

“One can get in glass effects what one can never obtain with pigments, such as a nearer approach to the brilliant and peculiar subtle color of the sky itself.”- Louis C. Tiffany

The ‘Dragonfly’ debuted in Siegfried Bing’s 1899 exhibition L’Art Nouveau at the Grafton Gallery in London, identified as a “Dragon-fly design”, presented on a blown glass base. The playful pattern is one of Tiffany Studios’ earliest recorded lampshade designs, and one that endured the tenure of the workshops operations with artistically selected glass in a spectrum of colors and techniques to diversify the otherwise repetitive nature of the insects.
That elements of nature were of inspiration to Louis Comfort Tiffany and his lead designer Clara Driscoll (1861-1944) is hardly unfathomable. Scientific specimens of insects from dragonflies to beetles and butterflies, to botanical studies of the native and exotic plants of the world filled the drafting rooms and workshops to stimulate and inspire artistic inclinations. Not only was the initial phase of drafting the pattern of utmost importance, the selection of glass to fill the ‘canvas’ serves as pivotal a role in the ultimate product of the Tiffany Studios.
Here, the rippled glass selection gives the allure of a fluttering breeze, or gentle cascade of water flowing down stream. The mere movement of the dragonflies surrounding would alter the trajectory of the ripple, but in glass this moment is captured in time. A further fascination for this particular shade is the vibrant and striking orangish-red color of the leaded glass. When unilluminated, the shade appears deep brown and amber, but with light this shade omits jewel tones akin to a Burmese ruby or Mexican fire opal.
What elevates this shade even more is the pairing with an equally considered bronze lighting fitment to reinforce a celebration of Mother nature. The rare ‘Cattail pond lily’ base is cast with thin blades of grass intricately overlapping the lamp support piqued by sporadic moments of air due to a simple bend or curl of a single blade. The covering of lily pads and lotus pods around the foot rim further evokes the forested wetlands – a world apart from the Studios workshop on 25th street in Manhattan.

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