The rarest of surviving Handel lamps, simulated aquarium shades are among the most elaborate of the firm's decorating schemes. The present model is derived from Victorian aviaries in its design. It is well documented that instead of blowing their own glass, The Handel Company, based in Meridan, Connecticut, purchased blank shades from various Midwestern glassworks. The firm chose to invest its resources in a cadre of European-born artists who decorated the shades with landscape, floral, avian and maritime scenes. Thus the emphasis was usually on decoration instead of design, yet the Aquarium lamp employs the shade itself in manufacturing an illusion. The present Aquarium shade underwent an arduous series of firings. Ironically, the exterior was first coated with a fish glue that when subjected to extreme kiln heat produced the frosted or "chipped ice" glaze. The aquatic vegetation of sea grasses, fronds and kelp was then the first layer painted on the interior. The school of stylized swimming guppies, their bodies decorated with a textured sandy enamel, were added to the scene in a second firing. The interior was finished with a sea green glaze for background depth. Gazing into the illuminated shade, one feels the murky sensation of peering into the depths of a teeming aquarium. By using layers of paint and glaze instead of cameo or leaded glass, this lamp is an important contribution to the Art Nouveau aquatic genre.
cf. Robert DeFalco et. al., Handel Lamps: Painted Shades and Glassware, 1986, p. 118-119 for an illustration of this model.