George Paulding Farnham (1859-1927), the creative genius behind some of Tiffany's greatest works in silver, first exhibited this vase at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. As head of the jewelry and silver departments at Tiffany & Co., Farnham's artistic direction enabled the company to win gold medals in the jewelry and silver divisions at the Paris fair in 1900 and at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo the following year. He was a prolific designer; John Loring notes “There was no style of silver design that Farnham was not at home with; and many of the styles, although named for other cultures, seemed to be purely of his own invention. In addition to the Neo-Classical style of the present lot, Farnham exhibited a myriad styles at the 1900 fair including Renaissance-revival, Viking, Native American, Burmese, Russian, and Middle Eastern (John Loring, Magnificent Tiffany Silver, 2001, p. 204).
Farnham began his twenty-three year career at Tiffany in the firm’s jewelry department in 1885. His mastery of color, incorporation of mixed materials and sense of proportion was likely developed during this stage of his early career. Former Tiffany archivist, Janet Zapata writes that Farnham “was first and foremost a jewelry designer” and his “silver was a kind of jewelry, both in conception and manufacture” (Janet Zapata, “The Rediscovery of Paulding Farnham, Tiffany’s designer Extraordinaire, Part II: Silver,” The Magazine Antiques, April 1991, pp. 718-729). Farnham’s talent for jewelry design is evident in the present “Pompeian” Vase. The delicacy of the openwork climbing vine handles and pierced rosettes are truly jewel-like in their composition and execution. Nearly identical openwork handles terminating in swan heads can be found on a silver and copper krater-form wine cooler, also designed by Farnham for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, now in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago (1978.442). Moreover, the pierced rosettes are very similar in design to a multi-color sapphire and diamond brooch designed by Farnham for the 1900 Exposition, illustrated in John Loring, Paulding Farnham: Tiffany’s Lost Genius, 2000, p. 136, and sold in these rooms on 20 June 2017, lot 171.