When the Tiffany fireplace hood arrived at the gallery, I knew immediately that we would make it the centerpiece of our stand at TEFAF as it was a unique, rediscovered masterpiece and of museum quality. I decided to invite Jennifer Thalheimer, Curator and Collections Manager of the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Florida, to the Fall Preview of TEFAF because I wanted the Museum to consider acquiring the object for its permanent collection because I believed that such an important one-of-a-kind piece with a strong personal connection to Louis Comfort Tiffany should find a permanent home in a museum setting.
The Morse has dedicated most of its collection to the preservation of art, furniture and objects from Laurelton Hall, it seemed like the perfect fit for this highly important Tiffany artifact. The iron fireplace hood set with ‘tsuba’ (Japanese sword guards that once belonged to the Samarai) had originally been installed in Louis Comfort Tiffany’s 72nd Street home, and because of its significance to Louis Comfort Tiffany, the hood was later transferred to Laurelton Hall. A period image of the installation in the 72nd Street home was published in ‘The Art Work of Louis Comfort Tiffany’, and an image of the installation in the smoker’s den at Laurelton Hall was published in the August 1922 issue of the ‘American Magazine of Art’ showing its placement in the room between the dining room and daffodil terrace (both now permanently installed at the Morse).
Ms. Thalheimer had a scheduling conflict and would not be able to attend the preview, but a couple of weeks beforehand when she was in New York for a short visit, she was able to examine the fireplace hood before we installed the piece at TEFAF where we recreated its documented setting at Tiffany’s 72nd Street home. When the fair opened, we sent a video of the installation to Ms. Thalheimer. On the Monday afternoon of the Fair, the Museum committed to purchasing the fireplace hood.
The fireplace hood was so admired at the press preview that several journalists writing for both magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, photographed the fireplace hood and wrote enthusiastic reviews. During the run of the Fair, our stand was never empty because of the interest the fireplace hood had garnered. I expect that once the fireplace hood is permanently on display at the Morse, visitors to the Museum, many who are devotees to the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, will be drawn to see this important piece of Tiffany history, much in the way it attracted the fair attendees and museum curators at TEFAF.
The fireplace hood is one of the five most important Tiffany artifacts the gallery has handled in the past 4 decades. Lillian Nassau LLC is pleased to have been able to present it at TEFAF and to have a part finding its rightful home at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.