Curator’s Pick

Tiffany Inkwell

Though today Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) may be best known for his beautiful stained glass windows and lamps, he actually produced a great number of different decorative art objects in his lifetime. With the aim of bringing his beautiful work into more homes, and also with the aim of better accessing the middle-class market, Tiffany and his company produced a series of desk sets. These sets were sold at a much lower price point than Tiffany’s glass lamps and were done in a number of different styles including Venetian, Zodiac, Byzantine, Chinese, American Indian, Louis XVI, Nautical, and others. The Dawes house has the “Pine Needle” desk set on display in its library currently.
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However, some of Tiffany’s smaller desk objects are just as extraordinarily inventive as his glass creations. This Tiffany inkwell, created in the early twentieth century, is a testament to Tiffany’s interest in experimentation and drive to create new forms. In the case of this inkwell the metal frame was cast first and then the glass was blown out through the openings left in the metal. This unusual method produced an even more unusual shape, as the glass protrudes out through the latticework and gives the piece a puffy quality. This same technique would later be applied by Tiffany to different kinds of objects, including the bases for his famous stained glass lamps.