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'Wisteria' Table Lamp, circa 1903

'Wisteria' Table Lamp, circa 1903
leaded glass, patinated bronze
26 1/2 in. (67.3 cm.) high, 18 1/8 in. (46 cm.) diameter of shade
shade impressed 30250 and 2
base impressed TIFFANY STUDIOS NEW YORK 30250 and 30250
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 23 March 1996, lot 462.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty from the above.
R. Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: Rebel in Glass, New York, 1964, pl. v., p. 187.
Dr. E. Neustadt, The Lamps of Tiffany, New York, 1970, p. 215-220.
R. Koch, Louis C. Tiffany’s Glass, Bronzes, Lamps: A Complete Collector’s Guide, New York, 1971, pp. 125, no. 194 (for a period illustration); 131, no. 208; 132, no. 209 (base).
J. Purtell, The Tiffany Touch, New York, 1971, p. 131.
R. Koch, Louis C. Tiffany’s Art Glass, New York, 1977, n.p., no. 48.
B. Deisroth, “Tiffany Today,” Nineteenth Century, Vol. IV, No. 1, Philadelphia, 1978, p. 67, no. 10.
P. E. Doros, The Tiffany Collection of the Chrysler Museum of Norfolk, Norfolk, 1978, pp. 126-127, no. 194.
H. F. McKean, The Lost Treasures of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1980, p. 191.
A. Duncan, Tiffany Windows, New York, 1980, p. 69 (for a period photograph of the workshop with this model illustrated).
A. Duncan, Tiffany at Auction, New York, 1981, pp. 89, no. 238; 102, no. 278 (base).
A. Duncan and W. Feldstein, Jr., The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, pp. 36-37.
T. Paul, The Art of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1987, p. 94.
A. Duncan, Fin de Siècle Masterpieces from the Silverman Collection, New York, 1989, p. 40, no. 14.
A. Duncan, Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 1992, p. 106.
M. May, Great Art Glass Lamps: Tiffany, Duffner & Kimberley, Pairpoint, and Handel, Atglen, 2003, p. 40.
A. Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection, Suffolk, 2004, pp. 292-293.
C. and P. Fiell, 1000 Lights: 1879-1959, Cologne, 2005, pp. 90-91.
M. A. Johnson, Louis Comfort Tiffany: Artist for the Ages, London, 2005, pp. 6 and 186, cat. no. 92.
M. Eidelberg, A. Cooney Frelinghuysen, N. A. McClelland and L. Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 106-107.
M. Eidelberg, N. Gray and M. K. Hofer, A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, London, 2007, cover and pp. 48-49, fig. 19.
R. M. Pepall, Tiffany Glass: A Passion for Colour, exh. cat., Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Montreal, 2009, pp. 162-163; 177, cat. no. 134.
M. K. Hofer and R. Klassen, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios: Nature Illuminated, New York, 2016, pp. 86-87, nos. 43-44.
A. Duncan, Tiffany Lamps and Metalware, Suffolk, 2019, pp. 76-77, nos. 283-287.
C. de la Bédoyère, Louis Comfort Tiffany Masterworks, London, 2020, p. 136.
San Francisco, California, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Legion of Honor, Artistic Luxury: Faberge, Tiffany, Lalique, February - May 2009.
Special notice
Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) at 5pm on the last day of the sale. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services. Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.

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Elizabeth Seigel
Elizabeth Seigel Vice President, Specialist, Head of Private and Iconic Collections

Lot Essay

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) was one of the most prolific and creative designers of the late 19th and early 20th century. His father, Charles Lewis Tiffany, founded the famous American silver and jewelry company, but Louis followed a different career path. He studied painting and developed an interest in both interior decoration and glassmaking. By the early 1880s he was experimenting with opalescent glass, an innovative departure from the medieval stained glass techniques revived by William Morris and his contemporaries of the Arts and Crafts movement.
In 1902, Tiffany opened his own firm, registering the first of many patents for decorative glass. He coined names such as ‘Favrile’ for his blown glass, gaining wide acclaim for its iridescent resemblance to ancient Mediterranean glass. With the rise of Art Nouveau, Tiffany’s glass became an international success particularly in Paris and London where his work sold at Bing and Tiffany & Co. and won him a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. While glass was his most significant medium, he added a metal workshop producing lamps and desk articles in the New York studios. His love of buzzing gardens, radiant color and natural beauty was exquisitely interpreted in his floral lamp designs with integrated bronze bases for which he became known.
Tiffany’s best kept secret was his team of female designers who created some of the most remarkable designs. When the all-male unionized glassworkers went on strike in 1892, he quickly mobilized the elite team of trained female industrial artists so that the flow of production would not stop. The ‘Tiffany Girls’, as they were known, armed with talent and skill, raised the bar for artistic production as members of the Women’s Glass Cutting Department. By 1897 the department employed almost fifty women. It proved a brilliant business move and ushered in a new and vibrant era of artistic innovation especially as electricity heralded a new age.
The contributions of these women, however, have long been overlooked. In recent years, attention has been given to Clara Wolcott Driscoll (1861-1944), the head of the Women’s Glass Cutting Department at Tiffany Studios, who is now credited with transforming the company designs. A trove of her letters became the inspiration for a 2007 exhibition at the New York Historical Society entitled A New Light on Tiffany – Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls.
This new scholarship has brought long-deserved recognition to these female artisans who worked anonymously for decades at the famous New York workshop. Driscoll, who studied at the Cleveland Institute of Arts and also at the Metropolitan Museum School of Art in New York City, spent nearly twenty years at Tiffany Studios. Today she is praised for her extraordinary work, highlighted by the ‘Dragonfly’, ‘Peony’ and ‘Wisteria’ designs.
The Wisteria lamp is one of the most celebrated in the Tiffany canon of design. The collector Dr. Egon Neustadt wrote, “Wisteria represents the apogee of all Tiffany’s accomplishments.” According to Driscoll’s notes, this lamp shade is composed of over 2000 pieces of glass. Each piece was deftly inset to create an intricate translucent glass picture. Infused with mottled and swirling opalescent colors, the glass segments were carefully matched like gem stones then finessed into a curved pictorial scheme, creating a living sense of nature. This subtle manipulation of the material with variegated inclusions, texture and hue, makes each lamp unique.
The lamp design is reminiscent of the façade of Laurelton Hall, Tiffany’s own home on Long Island, accentuated by delicately draped wisteria flowers and trailing vines. The set of transom windows in the dining room were inspired by this setting, decorated with detailed pendant clusters of lavender blue flowers surrounded by twisting tendrils. Ann Getty similarly designed the outside her ‘Temple of Wings’ home with these luscious flowers. The present lot is naturalistically rendered with a dense pattern of purple-tinged, cerulean and turquoise blue blossoms cascading from the crown of leafy branches. Deeper blue tones pool at the fringed lower border. With variated background transparency, there is a sense of atmospheric late summer warmth filtering through the foliate vines, accentuated by rare orange tiles. This subtle attention to seasonal light effects on the blossoms creates a stunning vision. It defines this example as a masterpiece of aesthetic concept, skill and materials, coalesced into a magnificent work of art.
– Karen Hayward, Independent Art Advisor, Academic Lecturer

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