Month: April 2013

Appraisal Event Finds: A Glimpse at Tiffany Studios Glass & Sculpture

On Saturday, April 13, we held an Appraisal Day event at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Castleton, N.Y. It was a well-attended event and we saw a great variety of heirlooms and treasures.

One very nice man and woman brought in some really unusual and interesting pieces of family memorabilia from their grandfather who worked as a glassblower at Tiffany Studios. Louis Comfort Tiffany founded his first glass factory in 1892 and proceeded to embark on a highly celebrated and innovative career in fine glassmaking. His constant drive to develop new techniques while exploring and expanding upon traditional methods led to some of the period’s most notable works of decorative art.

Tiffany patented his distinctive Favrile art glass technique in 1894. Favrile glass is recognizable by its iridescent sheen and vibrant coloring. Favrile glass was a unique accomplishment for the time; unlike many other types of contemporary iridescent glass, the luminous hues of Favrile glass were created by embedding the colors in the molten glass rather than applying them later to the item’s surface.

Pictured below is a charming handled pitcher that was handblown by this couple’s relative at Tiffany Studios. The pitcher is a very nice example of the Tiffany Studios’ exploration of more naturalistic and organic forms. The pitcher has a beautiful handwrought appearance, with gracefully curving lines that sweep up and out from the base.

Tiffany Company Favrile Art Glass Pitcher
Tiffany Studios Favrile Art Glass Pitcher


Although Tiffany Studios is probably now best known for its glass, it also produced some of the finest quality bronze sculptures in its foundries around the turn of the century. Pictured below is an original photograph showing the couple’s grandfather working at Tiffany Foundries finishing the Women of the Confederacy Monument for the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson. The photograph is a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the process of some of the most talented artisans and craftsmen of the day. The relative can be seen standing behind the sculpture in the center of the image.

Original photograph of The Women of the Confederacy Monument by Belle Kinney, cast at Tiffany Studios foundries
Original photograph of The Women of the Confederacy Monument, cast at Tiffany foundry


The monument was designed by Belle Kinney¬†(1890-1959) in honor of the women of the Confederacy. Belle Kinney was an accomplished and well-regarded sculptor who worked on large-scale public monuments such as the recreation of the Parthenon in Nashville’s Centennial Park and the bronze figure of Victory for the World War I Memorial located in the Pelham Bay Park, Bronx, New York. The Nashville, Tenn., native won first prize at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition at the age of 7, attended the Art Institute of Chicago on a scholarship at the age of 15, earned her first commission at 17, and was only 23 when awarded the commission for the Women of the Confederacy Monument.

Monument to Women of the Confederacy, Belle Kinney
Monument to Women of the Confederacy, Belle Kinney


Belle Kinney’s statue depicts a wounded Confederate soldier in the arms of a Southern lady, who presents him with a palm of glory, a symbol of triumph beyond the reach of death, while the figure of Fame extends a wreath over the woman’s head. The statue bears an inscription dedicated to the mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives of the Confederacy. The original concept called for all of the former Confederate states to erect the same design, but public disagreement on the monument’s final appearance delayed the process to the point where the scheme completely fell apart. The statue is a striking example of the fine quality casting for which the Tiffany foundries were known. The foundry was located in Corona, Queens, and produced some amazing sculptural pieces before closing in 1932.

We love appraisal events and how your family’s treasures can bring us the opportunity to catch a glimpse into history. The Schodack Scene has more pictures from the event at their blog.

American Folk Art Portraiture by Ammi Phillips

In November 2012, we sold an exceptional pair of portraits by Ammi Phillips for a client. Ammi Phillips (1788-1865) is widely regarded as one of the most important American folk artists of his period. As a self-taught portraitist, Phillips traveled throughout New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut, creating a wide and prolific body of work. Phillips’ work displays a passion for experimentation within the formal formula of portraiture, with a style that grew and developed in distinct phases so unique that his paintings were originally attributed to multiple artists.

Phillips’ earliest known portraits have an air of lightness from his use of soft pastel colors and simple forms. The early works were initially attributed to an unknown artist who became known as “The Border Limner.” These early works had a more ethereal and delicate appearance; the subjects have elongated forms, often arranged in slightly awkward poses that glance shyly to the side.

"Mrs. Wilbur (Sarah 'Sally' Stearns) Sherman (1789-1845) and daughter Sarah (1814-1872)," Ammi Phillips
“Mrs. Wilbur (Sarah ‘Sally’ Stearns) Sherman (1789-1845) and daughter Sarah (1814-1872),” Ammi Phillips


The Border Period was followed by the Kent Period; in the 1830s, Phillips was gaining a greater number of commissions to paint the prominent families of the area. His portraits began to incorporate a darker, more contrasting palette, increasingly realistic and defined facial features and exaggerated yet conventional poses. Phillips employed a strikingly dramatic use of light and deep shadow. The portrait of a young girl and her cat below is a good example of how during the Kent Period, Phillips dressed his subjects in more vibrantly hued clothing to create visual drama.

"Girl in red dress with cat and dog," portrait by Ammi Phillips
“Girl in red dress with cat and dog,” Ammi Phillips


The paintings sold for our client were a wonderful matched pair depicting an attractive, soberly dressed middle-aged couple. The lady’s forward-leaning pose is characteristic of the Kent Period, while the sensitively observed faces have a delightful lifelike quality exemplary of Phillips’ later works. Phillips’ mastery of detail is apparent in the deftly executed lace bonnet framing the lady’s face. The subtle play of light and shadow across the subjects’ faces and clothing is beautifully done.

Portraits of a Lady and Gentleman from Dover Plains, New York by Ammi Phillips
“Portraits of a Lady and Gentleman from Dover Plains, New York,” Ammi Phillips


These two paintings are a superb example of why portraits by Ammi Phillips are so desirable. By his death in 1865, Ammi Phillips had created an incredible body of work consisting of widely varied styles, sizes, compositions and sitters; over 600 paintings have been attributed to Phillips at this time. His paintings encompass a staggering variety of styles, sizes, composition and sitters. As one of the most prolific and skilled artists of his period, portraits by Ammi Phillips are highly sought after and valued.