Tiffany Lamps: Articles of Utilities, Objects of Art
March 23, 2011 — June 5, 2011
This exhibition is an in-depth look at the Tiffany Studios’ deliberate efforts to produce lamps that balanced artistry with practicality and profitability.
Few items combined usefulness and attractiveness as successfully as a Tiffany lamp. As articles of utility, reading lamps, floor lamps, and hanging shades came in a wide variety of sizes and shapes to regulate and direct light. As objects of art, the lamps, with their interplay of colored glass and richly sculpted bronze, brought beauty into the home. Whether with understated, minimal accents of color or showy, elaborate design statements, Tiffany lamps complemented just about every decorative scheme.
Tiffany Studios, Dragonfly Hanging Shade, ca. 1905, leaded glass, bronze. From the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, New York.
But this exhibition, with more than 40 stunning objects in an array of colors, sizes, and decorative styles (as well as a selection of tools, materials, and period photographs) reveals both the beauty and the bottom line, the mastery and the marketability, of Tiffany’s workmanship.
As an author at the turn of the century noted, Louis Comfort Tiffany was motivated by “a desire not merely to add to the world’s beauty, but to bring beauty within reach of the public.”