What is a Tiffany Floor Lamp? Explained

Tiffany floor lamp is a type of lamp that features a stained glass shade and a metal base, usually made of bronze or brass. The lamp is named after Louis Comfort Tiffany, an American artist and designer who popularized the style in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The History of Tiffany Floor Lamps

Tiffany floor lamps are part of the larger artistic movement known as Art Nouveau, which emerged in Europe and America in the 1890s and 1900s. Art Nouveau was characterized by organic forms, flowing curves, and natural motifs, inspired by nature and the exotic cultures of Asia and Africa. Tiffany was one of the leading figures of this movement, and he applied his artistic vision to various media, such as stained glass, jewelry, ceramics, and furniture.

Tiffany’s stained glass lamps were first exhibited at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where they received critical acclaim and public admiration. Tiffany patented his technique of making stained glass shades in 1894, and he founded Tiffany Studios in 1902 to produce his lamps and other decorative items. Tiffany employed a team of skilled craftsmen and craftswomen, who cut, shaped, and soldered the glass pieces together to create intricate patterns and designs. Some of the most famous designers who worked for Tiffany were Clara Driscoll, Alice Gouvy, and Joseph Briggs.

Tiffany floor lamps were very popular and expensive during their time, and they were considered a symbol of luxury and sophistication. They were often found in the homes of wealthy and influential people, such as Mark Twain, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and President Theodore Roosevelt. Tiffany floor lamps were also admired by many artists and collectors, such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Louis C. Tiffany himself.

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The Characteristics of Tiffany Floor Lamps

Tiffany floor lamps are distinguished by their unique and beautiful stained glass shades, which come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. The shades are usually made of hundreds or thousands of glass pieces, which are carefully selected and arranged to create realistic or abstract images. The glass pieces are held together by copper foil or lead came, which form the outlines and details of the design.

Tiffany floor lamps have three main types of shades: geometric, floral, and figural. Geometric shades are composed of simple shapes, such as squares, triangles, and hexagons, arranged in symmetrical or asymmetrical patterns. Floral shades are inspired by flowers, plants, and trees, and they often feature naturalistic or stylized representations of leaves, petals, stems, and branches. Figural shades depict animals, people, or scenes, such as birds, butterflies, dragonflies, peacocks, angels, or landscapes.

Tiffany floor lamps also have distinctive metal bases, which are usually made of bronze or brass, and sometimes plated with gold or silver. The bases are often decorated with ornamental details, such as scrolls, vines, flowers, or animals, to complement the theme of the shade. The bases also have functional features, such as adjustable height, swivel joints, or pull chains, to provide convenience and flexibility to the user.

The Value of Tiffany Floor Lamps

Tiffany floor lamps are highly valued and sought-after by collectors and enthusiasts, who appreciate their artistic quality, historical significance, and aesthetic appeal. Tiffany floor lamps are considered rare and precious, as only a limited number of them were produced, and many of them were lost, damaged, or destroyed over the years. Tiffany floor lamps are also subject to imitation and reproduction, which makes authenticating and appraising them a challenging task.

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Tiffany floor lamps can fetch very high prices at auctions and galleries, depending on their condition, rarity, and provenance. Some of the most expensive Tiffany floor lamps ever sold are:

  • The Pond Lily lamp, which features a shade with 18 lily-shaped glass shades and a bronze base with lily pads and stems. It was sold for $3.37 million at Christie’s in 2018.
  • The Dragonfly lamp, which features a shade with 12 dragonflies and a bronze base with dragonfly legs and wings. It was sold for $2.8 million at Sotheby’s in 2019.
  • The Wisteria lamp, which features a shade with cascading wisteria flowers and a bronze base with tree trunk and roots. It was sold for $1.5 million at Christie’s in 2017.

The Conclusion

Tiffany floor lamps are more than just lighting fixtures; they are works of art that reflect the genius and vision of Louis Comfort Tiffany and his collaborators. Tiffany floor lamps are admired for their exquisite craftsmanship, stunning beauty, and rich history. Tiffany floor lamps are also valuable investments, as they can increase in worth over time and enhance the prestige and elegance of any space. Tiffany floor lamps are truly the epitome of Art Nouveau and American design.