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United States, 1902-1904
Furnishings; Serviceware
Silver, silver gilt, and ivory
b) Creamer: 4 x 5 1/8 x 4 1/8 in. (10.16 x 13.02 x 10.48 cm)
Purchased with funds provided by the Director's Roundtable (M.85.3b)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

Louis Comfort Tiffany was the most famous American artist to work in the late nineteenth-century art nouveau style....
Louis Comfort Tiffany was the most famous American artist to work in the late nineteenth-century art nouveau style. The movement was conceived by artists attempting to form a new vocabulary of style in decorative arts in reaction to the Victorian taste for historical styles cast in pseudo-Gothic or classical terms. Proponents of art nouveau also wanted to eliminate distinctions of class between "high" art—painting, sculpture, architecture—and "craft", and so applied their energies equally to the design of jewelry and furniture. Art nouveau artists and craftsmen cast out derivative Victorian styles, and developed a new decorative vocabulary from sinuous vines, flowers, and Eastern motifs. This exotic tea set is composed of overlapping pointed forms recalling lotus leaves in the Mughal arts of India. Their shapes, also suggesting feathers or insect wings, two favorite art nouveau motifs, embody a visual ambiguity valued by the movement. Tiffany produced very little silver, perhaps because he wished to distinguish himself from his father's silver and jewelry firm. The son is best known for lamps, glass, windows, mosaics, and bronzes. He produced silver only on commission; fewer than twenty-four pieces survive. He designed this tea service for his own home, Laurelton Halls, the estate he designed and furnished from 1903 to 1904 in Oyster Bay , Long Island . This rare set illustrates the spare, elegant rhythms of art nouveau design and the energy that its advocates applied to the production of precious but functional objects for the home.


  • Price, Lorna.  Masterpieces from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Los Angeles:  Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1988.
  • Bowman, Leslie Greene. American Arts and Crafts: Virtue in Design. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990.