is known and documented concerning the wonderful works of art created
by Louis Comfort Tiffany
His company of artisans and craftsmen produced thousands of items
that now fill both public and private collections. Many recognize
the lamps, windows, bronze and glass items that he is famous for.
But until recently only Tiffany scholars and advanced collectors
had any real working knowledge of his extremely rare art pottery.
It is probably the one area of Tiffany’s art least understood,
cataloged or studied. With so few pots ever made it’s no wonder
only a handful become available on the open market annually.
first made early 1900’s the public had to wait 100 years before
a large exhibition would be dedicated to it. In 2004 The Charles
Hosmer Morse Museum of Art in Winter Park, Florida hosted “Sculpting
Nature” The Favrile Pottery of L.C. Tiffany with over 60 pots
displayed. With just under 100 in their collection The Morse Museum
is the largest known repository of Tiffany Pottery.
was one of the last mediums Tiffany would explore and he had a great
passion for it. It has been said Tiffany may have been more personally
involved with pottery production than any other line he ever sold.
His first experiments in this new medium began in secrecy around
1898. He first displayed 3 old ivory glazed pots at the 1904 Louisiana
Purchase International Exposition St. Louis. The line was unveiled
fully for public purchase Sept. 1905 at the opening of Tiffany &
Co.’s new building at the corner of 5th Ave. and 37th. St.
New York City. Compared to other art pottery sold at the time Tiffany
Pottery was considered very pricey even to his well-heeled New York
was named “Favrile” Pottery using the same old English
term that Tiffany used with his glass. Registered as a Tiffany Trademark
Feb. 1892 “Favrile” means hand made or crafted. Only
about 1500 pieces were ever made between 1904-1914 at Tiffany Furnaces
Corona Factory located in Queens, Long Island. Tiffany designed,
approved and even wheel-threw many original master pots. From this
master a plaster mold was made for a limited number of castings,
one reason even common forms are still considered rare. The molded
castings were meticulously hand trimmed, finished and some received
further carving. If approved the greenware was signed with an incised
cojoined LCT monogram. Most all Tiffany Pottery was signed in this
fashion and sometimes a number 7 clay marker is observed. After
outside glazing and completion some pieces were further signed with
an engraved signature very much like Favrile Glass and some received
paper stickers. While still green with cojoined signature pots were
fired and interior glaze color applied with either blue, brown or
most common antique green .
than half of all Tiffany Pottery made was unglazed white clay exterior
with glazed interior. It was thought that some would later receive
exterior glaze according to customers special order. The size of
most vases are under 8 inches however lamp bases might be as large
as 16 inches. Tiffany preferred natural designs and organic forms
like plants, flowers, fruit and generally vegetative in nature.
He would often bring in a plant part or something that struck his
fancy to be varnished or electroplated. These “frozen parts”
were often used in the master mold creation. Most Tiffany pots were
made from molds but wheel thrown and hand made examples are seen.
His two first glazes were antique ivory and mossy green. Antique
ivory just like it’s name has a yellowish white appearance
with greenish black areas of glaze pooling. Mossy green is a semi
gloss or soft mat mixed greens resembling moss growing on a rock.
After that variations using a broad range of colors were employed
including blue, white, green, butterscotch, brown, ochre, yellow,
red, turquoise, and even lavender. Tiffany used the whole spectrum
of colors and was not afraid to use bold mixtures or closely related
tones. Generally the more unusual colors and textures are seen on
simpler undecorated vases and lamp bases. Glazed surfaces might
appear textured , soft mat, glossy, crystalline and few iridescent.
Around 1910 bronzed pottery was made utilizing metallic surfaces,
some were further electroplated silver or gold.
Tiffany had the wealth and needed resources to set his artistic
genius to work in this new medium that pleased him very much. It
was never a commercial success so few were made. It was under appreciated
then but is finally receiving the recognition it deserves. Though
100 years too late I trust Mr. Tiffany would still be very pleased.