The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has in its American Wing’s Collection two items I particularly like. The first is a Watercolour Design Drawing by the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company illustrating a very special copper bowl belonging to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s private collection. The second item is the actual Enamel on Copper Tiffany Bowl, lushly decorated with plums among leaves in a very organic way, shimmering and glowing…
The MET “Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2005–2006”: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 64, no. 2 (Fall, 2006) page 53, Publication has the acquisition report of the Tiffany Design Drawing with a plethora of information. We learn, for example, that it presents a large enamel bowl in the Repoussé technique. The artist of the drawing used the Watercolour medium to better represent the luminosity of purple and green translucent enamels. We also learn, through notations, the formulas for the enamel colours used by the artists, and that ten days and 50 hours of work were required to make the piece. Two names written on the paper are of particular importance. “Munson” refers to Julia Manson, the lady in charge of the Tiffany enameling workshop and “Leslie Nash,” a later addition, a Tiffany production manager and original owner of the Drawing. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Recent_Acquisitions_A_Selection_2005_2006_The_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art_Bulletin_v_64_no_2_Fall_2006
Iridescent Tiffany Enamels were particularly esteemed and in high demand. The large Enamel on Copper Bowl at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a rare and prized item to admire and study in order to realize high-quality craftsmanship. What I find astonishing is that the Tiffany enameling department was small, production was limited, and exclusively staffed by women artists. The first lady in charge was Patricia Gay, followed by Julia Munson, the artist of our Bowl-in-focus. As described by the sited MET publication, “The shape of the Bowl alludes to the plump, rounded form of the ripe plum. Fruit, leaves, and branches are rendered in repoussé in high relief, and the plums are so three-dimensional that they look almost as if they could be plucked off the bowl…” The MET Publication, pp.77-78, Louis Comfort Tiffany at The Metropolitan Museum of Art [adapted from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 56, no. 1 (Summer, 1998)] is a wonderful source of information for Tiffany and his accomplishments. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/metpublications/Louis_Comfort_Tiffany_at_the_Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art
For a Student Activity on Louis Comfort Tiffany, please… check HERE!
Repoussé: method of decorating metals in which parts of the design are raised in relief from the back or the inside of the article by means of hammers and punches; definition and detail can then be added from the front by chasing or engraving. The name repoussé is derived from the French pousser, “to push forward.” This ancient technique, which has been used extensively throughout the history of metalworking, achieved widespread popularity in Europe during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
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