Antiques & Art Around Florida - 2016-2017

A Renaissance In American Art Glass

Lorena O. Allen, M.Ed 2016-09-07 01:04:35

“The Iridescent Favrile Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany The Age of Art Nouveau (Circa 1890-1910) Art Nouveau was a French term for “New Art” which emerged in Europe, especially in Paris, although the movement also had an international impact in every sphere of the decorative arts, including Germany and the United States. The movement was also fueled by the influx of Japanese art becoming part of the trade into Europe and the United States since the opening up of trade by Commodore Matthew Perry in mid-19th Century. The aesthetics of Art Nouveau was characterized by undulating forms and asymmetrical shapes which were inspired from nature; a movement that inspired artists and craftsmen to disburse with traditional notions of beauty and develop new forms of expression in the decorative arts. Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) Translation of a Vision The 1900 Paris International Exhibition provided a forum where these new aesthetic values were given a vision by artists and designers, including American Interior Designer Louis Comfort Tiffany. Synonymous with the emerging forms of Art Nouveau, Tiffany’s hand blown art glass which he gave the trade name “Favrile” (derivative of the term “fabricate” or “relating to craft”) was exhibited at the Paris Exhibition, winning gold medals and accolades here and at subsequent exhibitions and fairs in the United States, Germany and Japan. Inspired by ancient Roman glass and the iridescence it acquired after being buried for centuries, Tiffany’s vision was to create a range of unique objects gleaning methods from these artisans, in order to evoke the artistry of ancient glassmaking with its golden iridescence. With the aid of his chemists at Tiffany Furnaces, “Favrile” glass became a reality by the development of a method of adding acidic fumes to filaments of colored molten glass in a heated oven, whereby the acid would penetrate the texture of the glass and could be manipulated to create surface effects and the desired iridescence. Tiffany employed talented and creative artists and craftsmen to translate his vision into the unique and stunning “Favrile” art glass vases and shades. He assigned names to his wares taken from eras and motifs including “Linenfold” (imitating folds of fabric) and “Damascene”, inspired by the Egyptian popularity in the Decorative Arts. Favrile glass is known for its brilliant iridescent color which emulates the wings of dragonflies, beetles or peacocks. Other motifs included pulled “hooked” feathers, millfiori, and geometric patterns. Two of Tiffany’s iconic Favrile glass vases which he named after flowers, include the “Jack-In-the-Pulpit” vase, having a crimped & stretched “flower” in hues of silvery blue or gold with highlights of lavender and pink. The wide petals have an “onion skin” texture and are supported by a slender stalk which tapers to a rounded base. The tall “Trumpet Flower” vase is magnificent with green intaglio carved leaves and vinery against the iridescent gold ground. The Genius of Tiffany’s Marketing Strategies Marketing the Favrile Glass in the Early 20th Century In order to maintain as well as control, the quality of the brand and the high prices of the Tiffany Favrile art works, Louis Comfort Tiffany shrewdly consigned his wares to wellknown retail shops including Caldwell & Sons, Philadelphia; Marshall Field, Chicago and Shreve Crump & Lowe, Boston mass. In New York, his base of operation was Tiffany & Co. If a consigned piece of Favrile glass did not sell after a period of time in a retail establishment, Tiffany may recall the piece and end up selling it at a discount to an employee, giving to a friend or family member, or even destroying the piece, thus maintaining the high market value of his piece to retail consumers. Later glass companies imitated Tiffany’s Favrile art glass including Loetz, Steuben and Durand, although when placed side by side the Tiffany Favrile glass remains superior in design and craftsmanship to most connoisseurs of art glass. Identifying and Dating Tiffany Favrile Glass Tiffany Favrile glass is usually easily identified as all his pieces were etched near the hand blown pontil on the bottom of the piece, “L.C. Tiffany- Favrile” with a registered trademark and production number. In addition, paper labels bearing the Tiffany Favrile registered trademark may be found attached to the base. Prior to 1892 labels read “Tiffany Favrile Glass”. The term “Fabrile” was later changed to “Favrile”. After 1904 when the company became “Tiffany Furnaces” the trademark became “L.C.T.-Favrile” printed in black ink or gilt lettering on the labels. The Current and Future Market for Collectors of Tiffany Favrile Glass Tiffany died in 1933, leaving his estate to the Tiffany Foundation and for decades the appeal of his Favrile wares were not popular until the resurgence in popularity during the 1950’s attributed to the renewed interest in all things Art Nouveau as well as several important Museum exhibitions of Tiffany’s collections. More recently, the interest in Tiffany Favrile art glass vases and shades appear to steadily increase in certain venues due to the demands of discerning collectors and connoisseurs who appreciate the unusual beauty and rarity of Tiffany Favrile Glass. The extraordinary rise in current market value of Tiffany Favrile glass has recently been documented by record auction sales and hammer prices: an eighteen light “Pond Lily” Lamp referred to as the “Aristocrat of the Garden” with golden iridescent shades recently sold at auction for close to $100,000. Other Favrile glass vases and lamps are setting record auction hammer prices as well. Christies Auction recently set a record by the December 2014 sale of $75,000. For a rare blue Favrile glass “Jack-in-the- Pulpit” vase. A Tiffany “Linenfold” lamp sold at Bonhams Auction in 2014 for $15,000. Florida collectors of Favrile glass have the opportunity to savor and compare exemplary iconic examples of Tiffany’s Favrile glass. Several Florida museums have garnered spectacular collections of Tiffany’s Favrile art glass, including the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park and the Samuel Harn Museum in Gainesville. Favrile Vases and Shades shown are courtesy of collectors Relf & Mona Crissey, Winter Park, FL. Lorena O. Allen, M.Ed., President of L. Allen Appraisal Studios, Inc., is a fine art and antique appraiser/ consultant/broker and is a certified member of Appraisers Association of America and International Society of Appraisers. P.O. Box 2543, Winter Park, FL 32790. Ph: 407-671-1139 Email:

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