Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Iconic Lamps Are Back in the Spotlight

Important ‘Wisteria’ Transom Window from the Dining Room of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Private Estate, Laurelton Hall, Long IslandCourtesy of Christie’s

The term “iconic” is oft overused. But that’s exactly what Louis Comfort Tiffany’s creations are: The son of the founder of Tiffany became the leader of the Art Nouveau movement in the early 1900s with his stained glass windows and lampshades, all inspired by the lushness of nature. He decorated the reception rooms of Chester A. Arthur’s White House. He designed the ​​high altar in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and a glass curtain for the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. At a time when European artists were considered the cultural contributors du jour, Tiffany became one of the first Americans to get acclaim abroad. (His jewelry work as the creative director of Tiffany made him one of three American jewelers represented at the Museum of Decorative Arts at the Louvre in Paris.)

And now, Christie’s is offering up one of the largest Tiffany auctions in history. The June 10 sale—“Tiffany Masterworks from the Garden Museum: A Private Collection”—presents the collection of Japanese businessman Takeo Houriuchi who, with the goal of one day opening his own museum, amassed a fantastical array of his works: there’s a wisteria window that once decorated Tiffany’s home of Laurelton Hall (with an estimated value of 700,000-1,000,000 dollars) a dragonfly and water flowers lamp formerly owned by Barbara Streisand, and even some of Tiffany’s furniture—a lesser-known medium of the decorative artist. 

 The studio of American artist and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany, captured in 1897.Print Collector/Getty Images

“What is really extraordinary about it is that not only does it have some spectacular lamps and some amazing windows, but also other categories of work by Tiffany, such as enamels, paintings, ceramics, and workshop materials. It’s a really fascinating insight into Tiffany and the world of Tiffany that’s so diverse,” says Daphné Riou, Head of Christie’s Design Department. And while Tiffany works are a mainstay in museums around the world, many of these pieces have never been seen by the public.

All in all, they serve as a reminder of his decorative art mastery: his iridescent interpretation of nature, his “Favrile” glass blowing technique, his painstaking attention to detail. Below, see some of the rare works.

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