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'Wisteria' Table Lamp, circa 1905

'Wisteria' Table Lamp, circa 1905
leaded glass, patinated bronze
with a 'Tree' base
mounting post on underside of shade crown twice impressed 3 and 25981
top of base column twice impressed 3 25981
25 5/8 in. (65 cm) high; 18 ½ in. (46.9 cm) diameter of shade
Macklowe Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2005
Dr. E. Neustadt, The Lamps of Tiffany, New York, 1970, pp. 215-220
W. Feldstein, Jr. and A. Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, pp. 36-37
A. Duncan, Fin de Siècle Masterpieces from the Silverman Collection, New York, 1989, p. 40
R. Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: The Collected Works of Robert Koch, Atglen, 2001, pp. 74 and 284
A. Duncan, Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, pp. 292-293
M. Eidelberg, A. Cooney Frelinghuysen, N. McClelland, L. Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, pp. 106-107
M. Johnson, Louis Comfort Tiffany: Artist for the Ages, London, 2005, p. 186
M. Eidelberg, N. Gray, M. Hofer, A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls, London, 2007, p. 48
M. Hofer, R. Klassen, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios: Nature Illuminated, New York, 2016, pp. 86-87
Further details
Of all the lamps created by Tiffany Studios, there is none more iconic than the majestic ‘Wisteria’ table lamp. Louis Comfort Tiffany was enamored with all flowering vines, but perhaps none as much as the wisteria. Native to Asia, the Japanese variety, simply known as the “blue vine”, was introduced to the United States in 1830 and soon named after the American anatomist and physician Caspar Wistar. Tiffany was an avid collector of Asian arts and crafts and was likely well aware that the wisteria in Japan symbolized long life and immortality, as well as signifying love and tenderness. That, along with the vine’s rapid popularity, led to the incorporation of the plant in all aspects of his decorative designs.
Clara Driscoll, the head of the Women’s Glass Cutting Department at Tiffany Studios, is credited with translating the wisteria into a leaded glass table lamp in 1902. However, it is very likely that the design was influenced and approved by Tiffany before it went into production. Offered at the then-exorbitant price of $400, the model nonetheless became one of the company’s most desirable and best-selling luxury lamps.
The example offered here superbly demonstrates the reasons for the lamp’s unrivaled appeal. Descending from the cast openwork patinated bronze crown and shoulder that replicate the vine’s twining stems, are yellow-streaked green leaves and pendant racemes in a stunning assemblage of opalescent glass in shades of blue, lavender, turquoise and pearlescent white. Some of the 2,000 pieces of cut glass are translucent and streaked with either blue or red, adding an unexpected brilliance to the shade. Equally impressive, and surprising, are the occasional rippled sections in the creation of the flowers, something rarely seen in other ‘Wisteria’ lamps. The unusual use of this glass creates the distinct sensation of the blossoms being rustled by a gentle breeze.
The ‘Wisteria’ lamp is perhaps the finest representation of many elements of Tiffany Studios’ work: the revolutionary nature of Tiffany’s glass; the extraordinary talent of the “Tiffany Girls” in selecting that glass, available in a near-infinite number of colors and color combinations, for the exact desired purpose; the organic character of the overall object; the harmonious pairing of a naturalistic bronze base and leaded glass shade; and most importantly, Tiffany’s ability to transform his aesthetic ideals into iconic works of art.

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Alex Heminway
Alex Heminway

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