Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99
Diameter: 22.100 cm
Room 48: Europe 1900 to now
Jack-in-the-Pulpit Vase, by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Thomas Manderson
Long Island, New York, designed around 1900, made in 1912
Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) was the son of the famous jeweller and silversmith Charles Lewis Tiffany, who ran the prestigious Tiffany department store in New York. Trained as a painter, L.C. Tiffany embarked on a career as an interior decorator in 1879. An initial interest in stained glass led to the founding of his own glassworks at Corona on Long Island in 1893, renamed Tiffany Furnaces in 1902. Shortly afterwards he began to produce ornamental glass, including pieces with an iridescent finish such as this. He called this new range Favrile, after the seventeenth-century English word 'fabrile', meaning 'belonging to a craftsman or his craft'.
The unusual shape of this vase was inspired by an American woodland flower known as a jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), so called because its wide flared folded neck suggested the idea of a preacher raised above his congregation. This shape is thought to have been introduced by one of the firm's glassblowers, Thomas Manderson, around 1900, although Tiffany himself was in overall charge of design. With its long neck and fluid contours, it is typical of the strongly organic forms created around the turn of the century in what became known as the Art Nouveau style.
J. Rudoe, Decorative arts 1850-1950: a c, 2nd ed. (London, The British Museum Press, 1994)
A.C. Frelinghuysen, Louis Comfort Tiffany at the M (New York, 1999)
L. Jackson, Twentieth Century Factory Glas (London, 2000)
R. Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: rebel in gla (New York, Crown, 1982)