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Tiffany Studios New York "American Indian" Table Lamp

This breathtaking Tiffany Studios New York "American Indian" table lamp was a clear example of Tiffany’s enduring relationship with Native American culture. The shade features a background of yellowed brick patterning, broken up by two step-patterned chevrons, one chevron colored with dark amber and jade green— the other dark amber, and muted red. The shade is further decorated by a colorful stepped bottom border of red, orange, peach, brown, and green bricks. The shade sits atop a richly decorated "American Indian" base, completing the composition.

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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: L-20427
Artist: Tiffany Studios New York 
Country: United States
Circa: 1915
Dimensions: 12” diameter, 17” height.
Materials:  Bronze, Leaded glass 
Shade Signed: ''Tiffany Studios New York 7558'' 
Base Signed: ''Tiffany Studios New York 536''
Literature: Similar Shade pictured in Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.). 1998. Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Metropolitan Museum. New York: The Museum. p.75

In 1915, Tiffany embarked on a trip to the west on his private railcar “Columbia.” Filling it with curios along the way, his living quarters were soon filled with all manners of Native American Objects. Tiffany ended his trip at the monumental Panama–Pacific International Exposition. According to his travel companion, George Heydt, Tiffany was much enamored by the “Painted Desert” section. Quartered in recreations of Pueblo and Navajo settlements, Apache, Hopi, and Havasupai basket makers produced examples of basketry for purchase in a quasi-tradepost. One can see the stepped pattern, common to the Hopi people in this shade example.

The base was similarly considered by Tiffany, including an amalgamation of seasonal motifs from varying indigenous cultures. A motif was used to signify each of the seasons. The top of the base includes a frieze of two totem pole figures- Raven and Frog. Tiffany famously had a totem pole placed at the road entrance of his garden estate. The pole had come from the Kwak'wakw'wakw villages in British Columbia. In the most common totem pole variation, the Northwestern indigenous peoples put Raven at the top, him being the trickster and creator. The Raven was meant to symbolize Autumn, the season when birds would fly south to warmer pastures. The second figure Tiffany included was the frog, a figure who would bring good luck and fortune. According to Tlingit legend, the human wife of Frog would rise from the lake if they fasted long enough. Upon seeing her, they would be blessed with great riches. As the frog feasted upon summer insects, Tiffany used the frog to signify this balmy season.

The bottom of the base included three connected circles, used by the Dakota people to represent the flight of time. Below the three circles is a strip of earth serpent pattern, a Gulf Tribe symbol of the spring as they were the first to wake up from winter hibernation. The top and bottom of the base feature sections of zigzag patterning— a Winter pattern common to the Gulf tribes. The parallel lines running at different angles, suggest wind and rain.

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