also see:Louis Comfort Tiffany (bio)

History of Tiffany Studios Favrile Pottery

Much is known and documented concerning the wonderful works of art created by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933). His company of artisans and craftsmen produced thousands of items that now fill both public and private collections. Many recognize the lamps, windows, bronze and glass items that he is famous for. But until recently only Tiffany scholars and advanced collectors had any real working knowledge of his extremely rare art pottery. It is probably the one area of Tiffany’s art least understood, cataloged or studied. With so few pots ever made it’s no wonder only a handful become available on the open market annually.

Since first made early 1900’s the public had to wait 100 years before a large exhibition would be dedicated to it. In 2004 The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Art in Winter Park, Florida hosted “Sculpting Nature” The Favrile Pottery of L.C. Tiffany with over 60 pots displayed. With just under 100 in their collection The Morse Museum is the largest known repository of Tiffany Pottery.

Pottery was one of the last mediums Tiffany would explore and he had a great passion for it. It has been said Tiffany may have been more personally involved with pottery production than any other line he ever sold. His first experiments in this new medium began in secrecy around 1898. He first displayed 3 old ivory glazed pots at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase International Exposition St. Louis. The line was unveiled fully for public purchase Sept. 1905 at the opening of Tiffany & Co.’s new building at the corner of 5th Ave. and 37th. St. New York City. Compared to other art pottery sold at the time Tiffany Pottery was considered very pricey even to his well-heeled New York clientele.

It was named “Favrile” Pottery using the same old English term that Tiffany used with his glass. Registered as a Tiffany Trademark Feb. 1892 “Favrile” means hand made or crafted. Only about 1500 pieces were ever made between 1904-1914 at Tiffany Furnaces Corona Factory located in Queens, Long Island. Tiffany designed, approved and even wheel-threw many original master pots. From this master a plaster mold was made for a limited number of castings, one reason even common forms are still considered rare. The molded castings were meticulously hand trimmed, finished and some received further carving. If approved the greenware was signed with an incised cojoined LCT monogram. Most all Tiffany Pottery was signed in this fashion and sometimes a number 7 clay marker is observed. After outside glazing and completion some pieces were further signed with an engraved signature very much like Favrile Glass and some received paper stickers. While still green with cojoined signature pots were fired and interior glaze color applied with either blue, brown or most common antique green .

More than half of all Tiffany Pottery made was unglazed white clay exterior with glazed interior. It was thought that some would later receive exterior glaze according to customers special order. The size of most vases are under 8 inches however lamp bases might be as large as 16 inches. Tiffany preferred natural designs and organic forms like plants, flowers, fruit and generally vegetative in nature. He would often bring in a plant part or something that struck his fancy to be varnished or electroplated. These “frozen parts” were often used in the master mold creation. Most Tiffany pots were made from molds but wheel thrown and hand made examples are seen. His two first glazes were antique ivory and mossy green. Antique ivory just like it’s name has a yellowish white appearance with greenish black areas of glaze pooling. Mossy green is a semi gloss or soft mat mixed greens resembling moss growing on a rock. After that variations using a broad range of colors were employed including blue, white, green, butterscotch, brown, ochre, yellow, red, turquoise, and even lavender. Tiffany used the whole spectrum of colors and was not afraid to use bold mixtures or closely related tones. Generally the more unusual colors and textures are seen on simpler undecorated vases and lamp bases. Glazed surfaces might appear textured , soft mat, glossy, crystalline and few iridescent. Around 1910 bronzed pottery was made utilizing metallic surfaces, some were further electroplated silver or gold.

Mr. Tiffany had the wealth and needed resources to set his artistic genius to work in this new medium that pleased him very much. It was never a commercial success so few were made. It was under appreciated then but is finally receiving the recognition it deserves. Though 100 years too late I trust Mr. Tiffany would still be very pleased.
Anthony Mier
Cell: (386) 216-3206


Web Design: Tinker Graphics
Web Hosting: PlanetUSofA