Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Passion for Tiffany Lamps

Tiffany lamps from the early 1900s, part of the Neustadt Collection at the Queens Museum.

While waiting for the evening session of the US Open to start, my son and I went to the Queens Museum, not far from the south gate of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and within sight of the Unisphere. We checked out A Passion for Tiffany Lamps, part of the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany lamps, one of the most beautiful exhibitions I have ever seen—one of the smallest too. A little over 20 lamps are on view, just a fraction of the 200+ Dr. Egon Neustadt and his wife Hildegard collected over the course of fifty years. Though the exhibit is small, there is so much color and craftsmanship contained within it that it dazzles the eyes!

Apple Blossom Library Lamp, circa 1905.

The Neustadts, immigrants from Austria, bought their first Tiffany piece, a Daffodil lamp, in 1935 for $12.50 at a thrift shop in Greenwich Village. Tiffany lamps were out of style at that time—Louis Comfort Tiffany, who created the lamps, had died in 1933 and the Tiffany Studios he founded went bankrupt in 1937. The Neustadts didn’t care that the lamps were out of favor at the time, they just kept right on collecting!

These were some of my favorites at the exhibit.

Wisteria Library Lamp, circa 1901, Clara Driscoll, designer.

Dr. Neustadt did not want to pay the $4,000 asking price for the above Wisteria lamp, in the late 1960s or 70s, since most of them were going for around $2,000 at the time. After unsuccessfully trying to get the vendor to lower the price, Dr. Neustadt eventually did pay $4,000 for the lamp, and the gallery text said this would be considered a steal now, since Wisteria lamps have gone for between $350,000 to $1.5 million at auction!

Pond Lily Library Lamp, circa 1905.

The Pond Lily lamp above is one of only six known examples. The other five can be found as follows: one is in a private collection and the others are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Chrysler Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I love how low the shade extends.

Dragonfly Library Lamp, circa 1910.

Dr. Neustadt owned eleven of these 22-inch Dragonfly shades! The gallery text said the gold patina on both the shade and base was considered a special order by Tiffany Studios and they would increase the purchase price by 25%.

Such stunning colors and craftsmanship in this Dragonfly lamp!

Dr. Neustadt published this book in 1970.

I love that Dr. Neustadt became such an expert at what he and his wife both loved to collect that he published a book on the subject in 1970! It is dedicated to his wife Hildegard. Let me know in the comments if you own a copy of this work!

Another Dragonfly lamp. I love this one as well!

The above Dragonfly Library Lamp is circa 1910, and the shade design is attributed to Clara Driscoll, an artist at Tiffany Studios. I am so crazy for the blues in this lamp. Exquisite!

Daffodil Library Lamp, circa 1905.

The Daffodil lamp, above, is the one that started the entire Neustadt collection. It is so great that they found it in a secondhand shop in the village!

Pond Lily Globe, circa 1905. One of two known examples.

Peacock Library Lamp, circa 1905.

The Peacock lamp above was originally made as a fuel lamp and was later electrified. The gallery text says Dr. Neustadt placed small lights inside the base so the green glass would glow. This is one of two known surviving examples of this lamp.

Grape Hanging Shade, circa 1905.

This lamp might look ho-hum from this angle...

The Peacock Hanging Shade, circa 1905, in the pictures above and below, is a very rare Tiffany lamp. This is one of only two known examples and it is highly unusual because of its copper exterior. It seems out of place in the exhibit at first glance, until you move in for a closer look at the mirror reflecting the lamp’s interior.

...but the mirror placed under it lets visitors see the beauty underneath.

Favrilefabrique Reading Lamp, circa 1915.

This stunning lamp, a Favrilefabrique Reading Lamp, is from 1915. Louis Comfort Tiffany coined the term “Favrile” (and trademarked it) to set his glass apart from his competition. It was based on the latin word “fabrilis,” or, made by hand. The shade is actually pressed glass, made to look like pleated and ruffled silk lampshades. Wow! The base is gilt bronze, with abalone shell inlay. The color reminds me of Peridot, which happens to be my birthstone. This, the Dragonfly lamps, and the Wisteria lamp were my four favorite lamps in the show.

A Passion for Tiffany Lamps is on view at the Queens Museum until April 30, 2018.

More of the Neustadt Collection is on display around the country! Click here if you’d like to see where else the lamps are on view in the United States or find out more about the Neustadts.

Let me know if you have seen this exhibition or any of the Neustadt Collection in any venue!


Linda said...

Beautiful Tiffany lamps! Chrysler Museum here has an outstanding glass collection with a very large number of Tiffany pieces. And their English Cameo Collection is absolutely stunning!! Come on down--we can go see it....:)

Nancy's Fashion Style said...

These are so beautiful, so iconic!

Jill said...

Hi Mom! The Chrysler Museum always has such beautiful exhibits. I look forward to visiting there again with you. xx

Jill said...

Hi Nancy, you would have loved this exhibit, it was so gorgeous to see the lamps all lined up in rows. I am so glad I went! x