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On view


Designer: Louis C. Tiffany (American, 1848-1933)

Date: 1879
Medium: White holly, modern upholstery
Overall: 41 1/2 x 24 x 24 5/8in. (105.4 x 61 x 62.5cm)
Credit Line: 75th Anniversary Acquisition. Museum Purchase, by exchange, with Funds from Mr. and Mrs. John Hathaway Dyett and Helen Squier
Object number: 2009.14
Label Text
Louis C. Tiffany embodied the spirit of the Gilded Age. For over half a century his artistic talents-as a colorist, interior designer, glass maker, and designer and craftsman of decorative objects, jewelry and furniture-influenced patrons, inspired artists, and set standards of taste. Today his name is synonymous with richly ornamented, highly prized objects and interiors.

1879 marked Tiffany's first interior commission, the formal rooms of pharmaceutical millionaire George Kemp's mansion at 720 Fifth Avenue. This exotically caved chair once graced the opulently decorated Kemp interior. The overall carved ornamentation on the chair is of ginkgo leaves. The inlaid pattern on the crest is an unidentified darker wood. Tufted olive plush upholstery with gold stitching once covered the seat and back.

The Museum's chair is a rare survival attributed to L. C. Tiffany Furniture, a short-lived business in operation from 1879 until 1883, at which time many of Tiffany's businesses, including textile manufacture, interior design, and furniture, were folded together to form L. C. Tiffany and Co., Associated Artists.

The 1883 publication Artistic Houses describes the Kemp drawing room as follows:

To enter the drawing-room of Mr. George Kemp's stately mansion, No. 720 Fifth Avenue, is to refresh one's self with a delicious melody of color. The general motive of the decoration is Arabic, with an inclination to the Persian in the forms, the purpose of the artistic having been to produce utmost delicacy of linear and chromatic effect; and so generous were the resources of his art, flexible and varied methods of his technique, that the finished result posses to an extraordinary degree the charm of ceaseless suggestiveness and tireless unfolding.