This slender bud vase by Louis Comfort Tiffany is an exquisite example of the favrile glass technique that the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company developed in the last decade of the nineteenth century. While Louis C. Tiffany experimented with glassmaking leading up to this time, he used outside suppliers to provide him with the production glass he required to assemble his finished pieces. In 1890-91, Tiffany made the decision to start producing his own glass, and opened his first glassmaking factory in Corona, Queens. He started producing what he originally called “fabrile” glass, from the Latin “made by hand.” Tiffany later changed the name to “favrile,” as he thought it sounded softer, and possibly “more French.” The technique of favrile glassmaking involves infusing molten glass with iridescent pigments and layering of colors and textures to create depth and volume. Often times, favrile glass pieces are asymmetric in both shape and decorative appearance, owing to this hand-made technique. This tall, slender bud vase is made from a cylinder of gold favrile glass with a sinous green leaf motif. The glass is fitted into a patinated bronze socket base that is decorated around its border with a series of s-curves. From this solid base, the glass that holds a single flower rises delicately, almost as if it were lit from within. Even within such a narrow tube of glass surface to work with, Tiffany’s favrile technique creates a richness and depth that beautifully presents any flower.
This bud vase is currently on view in Passion for the Exotic: Louis Comfort Tiffany and Lockwood de Forest.
Bill Shaffer is a graduate student in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies program jointly conducted by The New School/Parsons and The Cooper Hewitt Museum.