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Tiffany Studios New York Jeweled "Drophead Dragonfly" Table Lamp

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Tiffany’s “Drophead Dragonfly” features a frieze of the long tapering leaves of the graceful cattail. A series of dragonflies appear to hover momentarily at the edge of the light, at the height of a golden sunset. With its intense, rich colors at the bright center of the spectrum, this alluring lamp fills its surroundings with a clear, golden luminosity and inviting warmth. Their wings are composed of sea green, rose, and orange-colored foliage glass. The dragonflies' wings are crafted from Tiffany's unique foliage glass, painstakingly created by slowly expanding a glass bubble and then fracturing it, before rolling the shards into a single sheet to replicate the iridescent splendor of dragonfly wings.

The elaborate base of the table lamp, with its six rootlike feet and row of favrile glass balls, was relatively costly, priced at $110 in 1906. Its design was inspired by the statuesque roots of the mangrove tree, which thrive along the lush Florida coast. Tiffany's fascination with the state began in 1884 when he accompanied his wife Louis to St. Augustine. Starting in 1909, Tiffany made annual winter visits to Miami until he eventually settled in his final estate, Comfort Lodge, located on the prestigious millionaire's row. Appropriately, his estate was beautifully surrounded by ancient mangroves.

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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: L-20733
Artist: Tiffany Studios New York
Country: United States
Circa: 1910
Dimensions: 22" diameter, 32" height.
Materials: Favrile Glass, Bronze
Shade Signed: Tiffany Studios New York 1507
Base Signed: Tiffany Studios New York 392
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:Dr. Egon Neustadt, The Lamps of Tiffany, New York, 1970, pp. 177; William Feldstein, Jr. and Alastair Duncan, The Lamps of Tiffany Studios, New York, 1983, p. 127; Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: The Collected Works of Robert Koch, Atglen, PA, 2001, p. 243; Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland and Lars Rachen, The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2005, p. 86

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.
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