Loetz Secessionist Lamp

Loetz Secessionist Lamp
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  • Johann Loetz Iridescent Art Nouveau Secessionist Lamp
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A beautiful Austrian Secessionist table lamp, the gilt bronze triform frame complete with an amber iridescent glass lamp shade exhibiting a deep golden colour with trailing deep orange and white decoration

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Additional Information





Bronze, Iridescent Glass

Iridescent Glass

Iridescent glass has a lustrous, rainbow like surface that changes colour depending on how the light hits it. It was first made in the 19th Century in imitation of Roman Glass that was being excavated at sited across Europe. The Roman glass has a natural iridescence, the result of being buried for centuries in the damp earth. Glassmakers discovered they could imitate this by exploring glass to metal-oxide fumes or by spraying or painting it with metal oxides.

The popularity of iridescent glass was helped by the introduction of domestic electric lighting, which showed the colours and the sparkling iridescence of the glass to the best effect. Most iridescent glass is in the Art Nouveau style. Its best know exponents are Loetz, Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Steuben glassworks and Quezal. Iridescent glass was mass produced in the United States as Carnival glass.

Inspired by the Past

In the 19th Century, archaeologists across Europe unearthed numerous pieces of Roman glass that had become iridescent as a result of exposure to chemicals in the soil or sand during their years underground. The chemicals had corroded the surface of the glass, giving it an other-worldly lustrous sheen. Inspired by these archaeological finds, glassmakers tried to recreate the finish using the latest chemical processes. The result was an increasingly sophisticated and attractive look. We may never know who made the first piece of iridescent glass, but the manufacturers most likely to have done so are Loetz in Austria and Tiffany in the United States. What we do know is that Louis Comfort Tiffany patented his iridescent glass in 1894, giving it the name Favrile and using it to make a range of glassware, most notably decorative vases in organic shapes. Max Ritter of Loetz exhibited a similar range at the Chicago World fair in 1893.

Loetz glass is typically bluish-green in colour and is sometimes streaked with red or golden yellow or silvery threading. Vivid colours such as red, yellow and purple were also made and are highly sought after today. The surface may be splashed with patches of silvery iridescence that looks like a butterfly’s wing but is know as ‘oil spots’. Loetz made vases in many shapes and sizes and pinched forms are typical of the factory’s designs.

From around 1900, the company started to collaborate with outside designers. Among those who designed pieces for Loetz are Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser and Maria Kirschner.

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