In 1913, Louis Comfort Tiffany sent Arthur Sanderson, a talented glassblower employed at Tiffany’s furnaces, to Bermuda on a sketching trip. There, Sanderson was allegedly tasked with documenting sea life and aquatic plants through the lens of a glass-bottomed boat. Upon his return to New York, Saunders worked with Arthur and Leslie Nash to develop the Aquamarine line of Favrile Glass, in which glass flowers, fish and sea life are encased in solid transparent glass - often several inches thick - representing water.
This example of Aquamarine glass features a globular base in which a large white water lily is encased, with delicate trapped air bubbles mimicking dewdrops on the petals, encircled by a series of thin vines and rounded lily pads in variegated green glass.
The flaring neck of the vase features an engraved motif of swirling waves, enhancing the impression of a watery scene; this is the only known example of an Aquamarine Tiffany Glass Vase featuring the addition of engraved details. The interior of the neck has been fumed, allowing a subtle iridescence to shine through.
The underside is inscribed with the notation “Exhibition Piece” indicating that it may have been one of a series of Aquamarine vases displayed by Tiffany Studios at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915.
Aquamarine glass was a technical achievement due to the complexity of production: the process required handling incredibly heavy pieces of glass (often weighing over 25 lbs) on the end of a long blowing rod, in addition to the stress of the annealing process which had to factor in the varied cooling rates of multiple elements used in each piece - not to mention the sheer volume of glass. Few examples of Aquamarine were produced owing to the cost and difficulty of manufacture; Records indicate that the Aquamarine vases were priced in the $250 range, exceeding the cost of many of the most expensive Tiffany Lamps available at the time.
Height: 11 ⅝ inches (29.5 cm)
Martin Eidelberg, Tiffany Favrile Glass and the Quest of Beauty, New York, 2007, p. 66-72.
Robert Koch, Louis C. Tiffany: Rebel in Glass, New York, 1966, p. 18
Paul Doros, The Art Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany, New York, 2013, p. 152