Pair of Candelabra

Tiffany & Co.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 199

These dazzling, monumental candelabra are the most ambitious and virtuosic examples of nineteenth-century American silver known. Created at Tiffany & Co. under the direction of Edward C. Moore (1827-1891), they exemplify the technical and artistic preeminence the firm had achieved by the late nineteenth century. The dynamic decoration that enlivens the almost six-foot high forms incorporates masterfully executed sinuous floral and vegetal ornament, informed by Moore’s extensive collection of works of art from Ancient Greece and Rome, Europe, East Asia, and the Islamic world that Moore’s heirs donated to The Met in 1891. The candelabra were commissioned by one of Tiffany & Co.’s most enthusiastic and progressive patrons, Mary Jane (Sexton) Morgan (1823-1885), wife of railroad, steamship, and iron magnate Charles Morgan (1795-1878). Like Moore, Morgan was an avid collector, and they appear to have been kindred spirits with respect to their passion for Asian art and innovative silver design. Upon her husband’s death, Morgan was reported to have a net worth of over five million dollars, and she set about assembling a significant collection of fine and decorative arts that ranged from paintings by Delacroix to Tiffany silver, European ceramics, and East Asian bronzes, ceramics, lacquerwares, and jades. In an era dominated by men, Morgan was a rare, pioneering collector. The Tiffany silver made for her is among the firm’s most technically and artistically innovative work, suggesting she was a sophisticated connoisseur of silver with an eye for avant-garde designs. Surviving ledger books in the Tiffany & Co. archives indicate 3050 ounces of silver were used to create these candelabra and that the cost associated with producing them was far more than any other works Tiffany had created. After Morgan’s death in 1885, her collection was sold at an auction attended by thousands. At the time, The New York Times reported: "The more the collection is viewed the greater one’s regret that she should have been taken before willing her treasures in a block to some established museum or to one to be established."

Pair of Candelabra, Tiffany & Co. (1837–present), Silver, American

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