Perfectly suited to the shade’s shape, dragonflies were a popular motif that Tiffany adapted to several lamp designs. This example has the desirable dropped heads that extend below the rim of the shade. It brought $245,000 at Christie’s in December 2014. Courtesy Christie’s

Tiffany lamps are magical artifacts in the collecting world. Illuminate one, and all the creative passion that went into its conception electrifies the viewer today.

“Tiffany is something that is so extraordinary in its beauty and its value – it will always be very popular. Whenever there is a downturn in the market, it comes back stronger than ever before,” said Allen Michaan, whose Michaan’s Auctions sold one of the world’s premier collections in 2012. “The glass is tremendous – unrivaled anywhere – amazing stuff.”

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), son of the founder of Tiffany & Co., was determined to be a painter. A turning point came in the 1870s when L.C. Tiffany became fascinated with the properties of glass, an interest that he expressed in architectural windows, glass-shaded lamps and formulas for art glass.

Tiffany’s first lamps were made in the late 1890s. In 1902, he named his multi-branched firm Tiffany Studios, while he also served as design director for the family Tiffany & Co. brand.

While Tiffany designed some lamps himself, he employed many talented artists including Clara Driscoll, creator of the popular Dragonfly designs and head of his Women’s Glass Cutting Department.

Although out of style by the time Tiffany died in 1933, the lamps almost immediately began a climb back into fashion driven by serious dealers and collectors.

 

Tiffany also made hanging shades for ceiling fixtures. This Poinsettia shade dates to 1902. The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, N.Y.

Tiffany also made hanging shades for ceiling fixtures. This Poinsettia shade dates to 1902. The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, N.Y.

 

Introduced around 1900, the Cobweb or Spiderweb Lamp was one of Tiffany’s most intricate designs. Difficult to produce and expensive to purchase when made – a steep $500. Michaan’s Auctions sold one in 2012 for $3.8 million. Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Introduced around 1900, the Cobweb or Spiderweb Lamp was one of Tiffany’s most intricate designs. Difficult to produce and expensive to purchase when made – a steep $500. Michaan’s Auctions sold one in 2012 for $3.8 million. Courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts