Tiffany lamps were created by decorator and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany. They were produced by his company, Tiffany Studios, from the 1890’s until the 1920’s. They featured colorful glass panels held together by metal and were centered around themes in nature. The lamps were fashionable with high society members and became a symbol of opulence. Eventually they fell out of favor and Tiffany Studios went bankrupt, but in the 1950’s Tiffany’s art enjoyed a rediscovery of sorts. Today Tiffany reproductions and Tiffany style lamps have become popular once again.
The Tiffany lamp was developed as a result of Louis Tiffany’s study of lighting and color. He wanted to bring the beauty of stained glass windows into the average home. His lamps were made primarily from leaded glass with a bronze base. Occasionally a base would be formed from glass or glass mosaic. The theme of the lamp was extended from the shade through to the base making the entire product a work of art. While the Tiffany lamp is usually identified with the traditional table lamp, there are also Tiffany floor lamps, pendant lamps, Tiffany chandeliers, lanterns and sconces.
Tiffany had an affinity for nature and spent much of his time sketching the gardens of his home. As a result, the lamps Tiffany created were filled with nature-inspired designs such as flowers, trees, fruits, insects and fish. Some of the most famous Tiffany designs include the dragonfly, magnolia, cobweb and lily lamps.
Today a true Tiffany lamp is considered a collector’s item and most are housed in museums and private collections. They can fetch from the thousands to the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For the average consumer, there are many affordable Tiffany style lamps on the market. There are reproductions of the original Tiffany’s and some new creations. There are cheap alternatives that use plastic shades and resin bases or more expensive versions that follow traditional Tiffany glass and bronze construction. Regardless of budget or taste, there is a beautiful, colorful, inspirational lamp out there for everybody.