Tiffany Studios trio of watercolor studies at Capsule Auctions, March 16
NEW YORK – The name Tiffany Studios represents the gold standard of American decorative arts. Active from 1878-1933, Tiffany Studios primarily produced works in glass: lamps, desk sets, and also stained glass windows for American churches. LX: Fine Art and Antiques, a sale to be presented by Capsule Auctions on Thursday, March 16, brings three studies for such projects, each in watercolor, to auction. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Louis Comfort Tiffany was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, the founder of the jewelry company whose designs are as iconic as the robin’s egg blue color of the boxes that house them. Instead of directly following in his father’s footsteps, the younger Tiffany forged his own artistic path. He became an accomplished painter long before earning recognition for the glass art endeavors that would inform his legacy.
At the age of 19, Comfort Tiffany helped found the American Society of Painters in Water Color, a harbinger of what would become a lifelong interest in watercolor painting. Although at first glance, glass and watercolor seem like radically different mediums, they share an important characteristic: a relationship with light.
In Untitled (Nasturtiums), estimated at $1,000-$1,500, Louis Comfort Tiffany’s sensitivity to light takes center stage. Just as it might in the case of the lamps possibly inspired by such a watercolor, light appears to dance across the flat floral forms, giving the work on paper a luminous aura.
Lot 70, an untitled Louis Comfort Tiffany design for a lampshade that is also estimated at $1,000-$1,500, gleams in a similar manner. Influenced by Hudson River School painters George Innes and Samuel Colman, both of whom the artist studied under in his youth, Louis Comfort Tiffany developed a remarkable ability to capture light and color.
The March 16 sale also features a watercolor study by Frederick Wilson, another of Tiffany’s most esteemed artists. It has an estimate of $2,000-$4,000. Wilson managed the ecclesiastical department at Tiffany Studios for nearly 30 years, and designed stained glass and mosaic installations for churches across the United States. Art historian Diane C. Wright wrote that Wilson’s work “represents a vital component of stained glass design and, to a large extent, illustrates what stained glass looked like in American churches around the turn of the 20th century.” Like Louis Comfort Tiffany, Frederick Wilson was able to translate his understanding of light from his glass art to his watercolors. Besides being beautiful objects in their own right, these works are emblematic of a mastery that transcends medium and time.
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