Lavishly Luminous

Tiffany lamps gained particular attention at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 where they were displayed in a Byzantine-like chapel. The lightbulb was still novel (invented less than ten years previous in 1885), meaning indoor lighting was a relatively recent revolution that Art Nouveau artists were able to explore. The signature design was presented by Louis Comfort Tiffany (his father founded Tiffany & Co.) who, along with many artists of this time were experimenting with Art Nouveau themes in different mediums. Artists in Europe began using glass artistically, influencing others to follow suit and find a distinction between art glass and household items.  Stained glass offered a way in which to express Art Nouveau motifs of nature in a new way, playing with light, transparency and opaqueness.  In fact, here in Glasgow, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh designed floral stained glass windows for the House for An Art Lover. 

Louis Comfort Tiffany’s glass lamp designs became one of the decorative sensations of the 1900 Exposition and subsequently, an instantly recognisable design of the Art Nouveau period. The lamps feature elements of nature, particularly flowers, and these motifs were commonly expressed geometrically with pieces of coloured cut glass in various sizes.  

Due to their popularity, the design has been reproduced and lamps in the style of those made by Louis Comfort Tiffany are very popular.  We are delighted to have two Tiffany-style lamps in the Works of Art & Furniture Auction on Friday 8 June. Both lamps are made from bronze and coloured glass. At 62cm high, lot 1662 is rather impressive with a dome-shaped shade decorated with a border of red flowers and foliage in shades of green. The bronze base continues themes of nature with a thin stem-like body and organic decoration resembling roots. 

In contrast, lot 1661 has a conical shaped shade with an ovoid bronze base. The shade has a very geometric design and at first glance, one might miss the subject matter of fish swimming in water. The small pieces of glass are very varied in terms of texture as well as colour, creating a mesmerising design reminiscent of choppy waves and the flow of water. The fish (probably koi carps) are vibrant against the blues and greens.  With the light switched on, this lamp will be a treat for the eyes!

The Works of Art & Furniture auctions are held every six weeks and feature sculpture, bronzes, ivories and treen, textiles and costume, along with sporting memorabilia, arms and armour, rugs and carpets.

Written by Hannah Hughes

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