This week’s Pennsylvania Treasure is a desk set from the “American Indian” series made by Tiffany Studios in New York. Each piece was cast in bronze and crafted by artisans and designers supervised by Louis C. Tiffany in the foundry known as Tiffany Furnaces.
Collections Advancement Project curator Paris Tennenhouse chose this set because it exemplifies the complexity of representing cultural references within the sensibilities and ideals of Victorian decorative arts. This set of 10, including a bronze lamp base with a leaded stained glass globe, has a rich patina with red paint detailing. The brown patina was discontinued after 1915.
This particular desk set was a gift to the commonwealth by Mr. Robert R. Logan, a descendant of James Logan, colonial secretary to Pennsylvania founder William Penn. Robert Logan and Sara Wetherill Logan established a spiritual and experimental art colony, named “Sarobia,” on a 175-acre estate in Bucks County. Much of their land is now known as Neshaminy State Park.
Tiffany Studios produced the desk sets in at least 20 different patterns. The American Indian pattern, offered in 1910, incorporates design motifs that were popular in Native American art, including repeating patterns, geometric designs and stylized heads of animals.
Louis C. Tiffany was a prolific and innovative American artist and designer whose work reflects the aesthetics of the Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movements of the late 19th century. Although known for his high-end commissions of exquisite metal and glass work, Tiffany expressed his desire to make beautiful objects of a more affordable nature. These items were listed as “Fancy Goods” in the Tiffany Studio catalogs at the turn of the century. Desk sets reflected the popularity and importance of writing in Victorian society and were sold as a set of six objects with additional pieces available for individual purchase.
About Pennsylvania Treasures:
In early 2012, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission launched the Collections Advancement Project (CAP), a program to inventory and catalog our vast and significant holdings of art and artifacts. These efforts are resulting in better stewardship of our collections which represent Pennsylvania arts, culture, history, sciences, business and agriculture. As a component of the project, CAP curators have researched rarely exhibited artifacts and works of art. We are sharing these Pennsylvania Treasures with the public through weekly updates.