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Tiffany Studios New York "Drophead Dragonfly" Floor Lamp

This Tiffany Studios New York glass and bronze “Drophead Dragonfly” floor lamp features a leaded glass shade depicting turquoise green dragonflies with mottled turquoise, honey and whiskey colored wings, against a graduated turquoise, green, red and amber shade; further adorned with whiskey, honey and ruby colored glass “jewels." The shade sits atop a patinated bronze "Tree Trunk" base.

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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: L-20296
Artist: Tiffany Studios New York
Country: United States
Circa: 1900
Dimensions: 64" height, 22" diameter
Materials: Leaded glass, Gilt Bronze
Base Signed: "Tiffany Studios New York 379"
Literature: A similar shade is pictured in: The Lamps of Tiffany, by Dr. Egon Neustadt, New York: The Fairfield Press, 1970, p. 172, plate 239. A similar base is pictured in: Tiffany Lamps and Metalware: An illustrated reference to over 2000 models, by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge: Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club, 1988, p. 206, plate 901; shade p.215 plate 847

In their various iterations, dating from 1906 and before, dragonfly lamps were among the earliest, most popular, and most costly of Tiffany Studios designs. The dragonfly was a leitmotif of the Art Nouveau, but Louis Tiffany encountered the creature and explored its form and significance throughout his childhood and artistic life, beginning as a youngster who sketched au plein air in the woods and wetlands surrounding his father’s summer house. At Tiffany & Co., Louis encountered dragonflies in the metalwork of Edward C. Moore, who was strongly inspired by the Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock prints and their evocative views into the minute worlds of butterflies, dragonflies and grasshoppers. At his Laurelton Hall estate, an artwork of nature coaxed into form over decades, Tiffany observed these insects in the teeming salt water marshes and wetlands of Oyster Bay. The dragonfly’s iridescent wings, lustrous, metallic body, and wetland habitat of blues and greens embodied many of Louis’ fascinations with the ephemeral phenomena of color and light. Dragonflies served as inspiration in a variety of Louis’ most notable lamps, as well a remarkable early jewel, the dragonfly hair ornament in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Since Tiffany Studio artisans were given the freedom to select particular textures, patterns, hues, tones and saturations of the glass they would use for each shade, the lamps are unique in subtle ways. Among this lamp’s particular charms is the dichroism of its shade. The reddish amber dichroism of the green glass, an innovative effect achieved through the addition of minute amounts of silver and gold, is readily seen when the shade is viewed from within. In addition, beautiful and subtle features enhance its interior, and are evident on closer inspection. The interior coppered lead surfaces of the shade were gilded, enhancing the shade’s light transmission and golden brightness. Further, the risers spiral in whiplash curves up to the light cluster, and are enhanced with exotic shell motifs where they join the columnar base. With its stylized naturalism, restrained palette, innovative glass, subtle shading, and early gilt surface, the lamp is a unified work of beauty.