This watercolor drawing is a design for an enamel-on-copper covered box decorated with vibrant yellow dandelions. It was created around the turn of the 20th century by the enamel department of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Stourbridge Glass Company. Tiffany (1848-1933) established the department at his Corona, Queens, property in 1898 and employed a small number of young women including Patricia Gay (1876-1965), Julia Munson (1875-1971), Alice Gouvy (1870-1924) and Lillian Palmié (b. 1871-74). Tiffany required that the women, like all women under his employ, remain unmarried.
Copper was a base used heavily in Tiffany enamels and the resulting colors are striking. In addition to the covered box, enamellers worked with other copper forms including vases, bowls, plaques and lamps. The circularity of both the dandelions and the box is an example of the balance Tiffany sought between motif and vessel.
“sg 273” is penciled along the upper edge of the drawing. Of the hundreds of enamels made during the nine year existence of the Corona enamel department, most were labeled with the initials SG or EL and numbered sequentially. While it is unclear precisely what the initials represented, it is likely that SG stood for Stourbridge Glass. This particular design was among the latter half of enamels in the SG series, before Tiffany returned his focus to vases and later to larger covered boxes.
This watercolor is the second of its kind in the Rakow Library collection; the other, a watercolor for an enamel-on-copper poppy vase by Patricia Gay, was acquired in 2012. The poppy vase is part of the EL series and is dated May 11, 1900.
See more dandelions in the Library and Glass Collections.
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