On 14 December, an extensive selection of Tiffany Studios table lamps and enamels leads the Design sale at Christie’s in New York.
Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) — not to be confused with his father Charles Tiffany, who founded the renowned jewellery house Tiffany & Company — was an artist, decorator and designer. ‘After successful careers as a painter and interior decorator, he shifted focus onto the design and production of stained glass windows,’ explains Beth Vilinsky, Design specialist at Christie’s in New York. ‘His leaded glass lamps were a natural offshoot. The Tiffany factory, located in Queens, New York, produced lamps, as well as a wide variety of other decorative objects, for almost 40 years.’
Lampshade construction was a laborious process, with each small section of glass carefully selected from the thousands of sheets available to the men and women in the cutting departments. ‘The finest lampshades exhibit a wonderful harmony of colours,’ says Vilinsky. It’s not just the shade that’s important — the base is also a key part of the design. Most were made of bronze from Tiffany’s foundry in Queens, while some featured enamelled or mosaic bases.
If Tiffany Studios is perhaps best known for its leaded glass lamps, it is interesting to note that Louis Tiffany was probably most proud of his blown glass vases and leaded glass windows. The company’s mosaics, ceramics, enamels and fancy goods were also widely acclaimed.
Further highlights of the Design sale include two tables by Diego Giacometti, executed in the 1970s. One of these, the ‘Owl and frog’ table, was purchased from the artist in 1974 and has remained in the same family since the 1980s. In both of these pieces, the sculptor’s celebrated tactile surfaces are in full effect.
Also offered on 14 December are two epoxy stone-and-bronze lambs by French sculptor François-Xavier Lalanne. Offspring of the iconic ‘Mouton de Pierre’, a group of 10 sheep designed by Lalanne in the 1970s, they stand just over 20 inches — or half a metre — high.
View these and all other works from the sale at the Rockefeller Center galleries from 9 December.