WINTER PARK, FLA.- The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
has acquired Louis Comfort Tiffanys unique cast-iron fireplace hood, created for his New York City residence in 1883. The work was offered last autumn in the Lillian Nassau LLC booth at The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) held in the Park Avenue Armory in New York. This coming fall, the Museum plans to install the remarkable architectural element in its Laurelton Hall wing.
This singular and cherished piece by Tiffany first adorned the grand library of his Seventy-Second Street house in New York City. The fireplace hood is massive, measuring 66 1/2 inches tall by 55 1/2 inches wide. Tiffany shaped the cast iron to appear like swaths of leather, buttoned down with rivets surrounding fanned sheets of mica, which would glow from the fire underneath. The surface is decorated with twenty-two tsuba, or Japanese sword guards. In the 1880s, Tiffany had collected tsuba by the barrelful to be used in his interior design projects. The Morse Museum installation will recall the original setting.
When Tiffany began to envision a museum at Laurelton Hall, his estate on Long Island, he brought his most treasured objects with him including this fireplace hood. The decorative and functional work was removed from Seventy-Second Street in 1919 and placed into the smoking room at Laurelton Hall.
At the autumn 2019 TEFAF show, Lillian Nassau LLC showed the fireplace hood for the first time. As soon as the fireplace hood arrived at the gallery, I immediately thought of contacting the Morse, Arlie Sulka, the owner of Lillian Nassau LLC, remembered. I expect that once the fireplace hood is permanently on display in its rightful home 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. The Morse acquired the work from the Tiffany dealer with the generous assistance of Paul and Sharon Steinwachs.
Director Laurence J. Ruggiero said, We are very pleased to be able to add this impressive piece to the collection and to install it at the Morse for all our visitors to enjoy.
The fireplace hood will be installed within the 12,000-square-foot Laurelton Hall wing the Morse opened in 2011. George Sexton Associates of Washington, D.C., who did the 2011 addition, will design the installation.
The Morse Museum is home to the worlds most comprehensive collection of works by American designer and artist Louis Comfort Tiffany (18481933), including the chapel interior he designed for the 1893 Worlds Columbian Exposition in Chicago and art and architectural objects from Tiffanys celebrated Long Island home, Laurelton Hall. The Museum's holdings also include American art pottery, late 19th- and early 20th-century American paintings, graphics, and decorative art.