Wednesday, July 13

my tiffany treasure

hello mes chéries!  i had quite an exciting yesterday, as i purchased my very first antique, a charming Louis C. Tiffany box, from one of my current bosses, the lovely Matthew Barton of Matthew Barton Ltd., a silver and nineteenth-century decorative arts specialist and auctioneer. and here it is...
what do you know about Louis C. Tiffany?  i knew very little until i decided to do a research project on his divine lamps last year.  not to be especially associated with the founder of the company now beautifully known for its robin's egg blue box, Louis C. Tiffany was the founder of Tiffany & Co.'s son, and after a stint painting in north africa, devoted himself to re-discovering the superior techniques of medieval glassmaking, wherein color, particularly for stained glass windows, was incorporated into the glass itself, rather than painted over it, as was the nineteenth-century practice.  clearly, judging from the gorgeously swirled, jade green color of the glass of which my box is composed, he very much succeeded in this. tiffany was known for his modern stained glass window designs, and also for his efforts in interior design, making his mark on the rooms of some of the most illustrious families in New York of the glorious 'gilded age,' including the Vanderbilts and, also, President Arthur at the White House.
from left to right: Louis C. Tiffany, Market Day Outside the Walls of Tangiers, Morocco, 1873, oil on canvas, Smithsonian Art Museum, Washington, D.C., Tiffany Studios, Magnolia Window, c. 1900, Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Computer reconstruction of L.C. Tiffany and Associated Artist’s Blue Room, White House, Washington, D.C., 1884.
today, tiffany is best known for his beautiful lamps, with quite studied designs in stained glass of beautiful flowers, and occasionally garden bugs, which certainly correspond with the late nineteenth-century love for scientific examination of back garden horticulture.  and although i argued against it in my paper for rather silly academic reasons, he is often associated with the european art art nouveau movement, full of whiplash curves and organic forms, both in decorative art design and in fine art, particularly in drawing, as in mucha's advertisements.
clockwise from left: Tiffany Studios, Peony Chandelier, c.1910, Tiffany Studios,
Wisteria lamps, c. 1902-18,Tiffany Studios, Dragonfly lamp, c. 1910
there is some debate on how much tiffany actually contributed to the production of glass objects within his factory, from which my box derives, and also which interestingly employed (unmarried) women, even as designers.  but i can rest relatively easy knowing that louis c. tiffany did, indeed approve the design for my little box, and even if he didn't see it personally, je l'adore.
craftsmen at Tiffany Glass Factory c. 1898,
Cosmopolitan, 1899.
have you ever thought about buying an antique, particularly at auction?  although enormous prices at the large auction houses make great headlines, many lots sold at average auctions are surprisingly affordable.  my box cost just about as much as a nice dress or pair of shoes or average winter coat, and the best part is that it will retain, and perhaps even increase, its value over time. and buying something so dear with a bit of history, its beauty retained for nearly 100 years, is much more romantic than a new winter coat, don't you think?

p.s. check out Matthew's website.  his next sale will take place in november, and my sneak peek has confirmed that it will include some gorgeous edwardian pieces that are pre-war bliss.  silver punch bowl and matching set of silver punch cups, anyone? s'il vous plaît.

hope you're having a wonderful day!  xx hillary        

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