Above: Photo by David Schlegel

 

Tiffany or Tiphony?: The Art of Connoisseurship

Whether we realize it or not, we are all natural connoisseurs. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the music we listen to, we make considered choices every day, choices rooted in our innate ability to observe, compare, and assess. With collectors, being a connoisseur takes on additional importance. Early Tiffany collector Dr. Egon Neustadt, founder of The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, is a perfect case in point. From 1935 until his death in 1984, he built the largest and most encyclopedic collection of Tiffany lamps ever assembled. Comprised of more than 200 examples, Dr. Neustadt’s collection ranges from one-of-a-kind lamps to multiple examples of a single design. With no roadmap for collecting Tiffany objects, or the convenience of the Internet, he developed his connoisseurship skills as he went, inevitably making a few mistakes along the way.

Tiffany or Tiphony? The Art of Connoisseurship is a 50-lamp traveling exhibition exploring the characteristics that differentiate an authentic Tiffany lamp from a forgery — colloquially referred to as a “Tiphony.” Through a close examination and comparison of 36 authentic lamps and 17 convincing forgeries, Tiffany or Tiphony? brings out each visitor’s inner connoisseur, broadening the museum conversation beyond “I-like-it/I-don’t-like-it.”

Drawn entirely from The Neustadt’s renowned collection of Tiffany lamps as well as its invaluable study collection of forgeries, this exhibition begins with a challenge: a twin pair of lamps — one real, one fake. Faced with the same questions that confronted Dr. Neustadt, visitors must consider which example is which before they embark on their own connoisseurship journey. 

 

 

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