Tiffany & Co.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 706

This vase exemplifies the creativity and innovation that characterized Tiffany & Co.’s work during the 1870s and 1880s. Under the direction of Edward C. Moore (1827-1891), the silver division at Tiffany & Co. produced a diverse array of exquisitely wrought and highly original work, and this vase is a bold example of their experimentation with novel techniques and Asian-inspired designs. First conceived and created in 1879, this vase was produced both in copper with silver drips, as seen here, and in silver with copper drips. Surviving drawings for the vase reveal that the seemingly random splotches on the red surface and the layered, cascading drips were meticulously planned. Notes on the drawings also specify that the fine gold was to be "inlaid by chasers," while the copper and green gold ornament was to be "inlaid by battery," evidence of Tiffany’s progressive engagement with innovative electrolytic processes. Inspired by the colors in Asian ceramics as well as glass and ceramics from the ancient and Islamic worlds that Moore collected and made available to his staff, Tiffany’s craftsmen worked tirelessly to produce colored surfaces. As one of very few extant examples of Tiffany’s work with red surface treatments and the only significant object currently known that employs drip ornament inspired by Japanese works of art in Moore’s collection (see Japanese bronze vase amid waves, 91.1.519), this vase is a rare and important illustration of the firm’s imaginative and technically sophisticated responses to Asian art.

Vase, Tiffany & Co. (1837–present), Silver, copper, gold, and silver-copper-zinc alloy, American

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