Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/exhibitions/1158829409/

Iridescence

The term iridescence derives from Iris, the Greek goddess of the rainbow, and refers to a vibrant optical effect of rainbow-like colors that change in the light. Found on pearls, bird feathers, and insect wings, iridescence draws from and celebrates the natural world’s multidimensional colors and organic forms. Since the Middle Ages, designers have experimented with ways to achieve an iridescent effect on the surface of glass and ceramics and incorporate naturally iridescent materials such as mother of pearl into their jewelry and metalwork. Featuring objects from the museum’s collection, this exhibition demonstrates how iridescence has maintained a lasting impact on design. Requiring the color sense of an artist and the technical skills of a chemist to execute, the technique of iridescence connects objects across time periods and geographies. Ancient glass appears iridescent as a result of chemical decomposition from years buried underground, an effect admired and imitated by Louis Comfort Tiffany and others working in the art nouveau and arts and crafts styles at the turn of the 20th century. At the same time, the ceramicists Clément Massier in France and William de Morgan in Britain both looked to medieval Spanish ceramics glazed with metallic oxides for inspiration in their own work. Efforts to produce radiant light effects in glass and ceramics continue up to the present. Designers experiment with adding unexpected materials to formulate metallic glazes and bright surface treatments to catch the eye.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18431715/

  • glazed and lustered porcelain
  • Gift of Mrs. Paul Moore
  • container
  • floral
  • vessels
  • bowls
  • blue
  • porcelain

Lusterware was a dominant type of ceramic production in medieval Iran, possibly having spread from Egypt in the early 12th century. Within Iran, the town of Kashan was the finest producer of lusterware and manufacture was at its peak during the 12th and 13th centuries.Human interaction with lusterware vessels and tiles over time has enhanced variations in color and luminescence.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18423447/

  • glazed, modeled and lustered stonepaste with underglaze and underpaint decoration
  • Gift of Ephron Gallery
  • rectangular
  • tile
  • earthenware
  • luster glaze
  • turqoise
  • inscribed

This tile was originally positioned in the mihrab, the prayer niche of a mosque, which points in the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca. This tile shows a fragment verse from the Quran and reads “youths never altering in age.”

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18423455/

  • glazed and lustered stonepaste
  • Gift of Ephron Gallery
  • decoration
  • container
  • stripes
  • flared
  • iridescent
  • bowl

Bold cobalt blue stripes characterize a group of lustered ceramics associated with production in Kashan, Iran from the 12th to the 14th century.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18453577/

  • glazed and lustered stonepaste
  • Gift of Ruth Friedman in memory of Harry G. Friedman
  • animals
  • stars
  • tile
  • elephant

Lusterware was a dominant type of ceramic production in medieval Iran, possibly having spread from Egypt in the early 12th century. Within Iran, the town of Kashan was the finest producer of lusterware and manufacture was at its peak during the 12th and 13th centuries.Human interaction with lusterware vessels and tiles over time has enhanced variations in color and luminescence. The brassy color of the decoration on this tile indicates that silver rather than copper oxide was used in the making of its luster glaze.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18453579/

  • glazed, lustered and painted stonepaste, rolled and pierced silver (later mount)
  • Gift of Ruth Friedman in memory of Harry G. Friedman
  • pattern
  • tiles
  • star

Lusterware was a dominant type of ceramic production in medieval Iran, possibly having spread from Egypt in the early 12th century. Within Iran, the town of Kashan was the finest producer of lusterware and manufacture was at its peak during the 12th and 13th centuries.Human interaction with lusterware vessels and tiles over time has enhanced variations in color and luminescence.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/68245589/

  • cut, cast and hammered silver with basse-taille enamel, set with mother-of-pearl, fresh-water baroque pearl drop, cut silver wire chain
  • enamel
  • personal adornment
  • silver
  • accessories
  • jewelry
  • art nouveau
  • pendant

This jewelry by Charles Horner, whose Halifaxbased factory produced high quality silver items for the middle market, shows iridescent enamels in green and blue tones popular in the early twentieth century.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/51685165/

  • cast silver, enamel
  • Gift of Harry C. Sigman
  • display
  • women's fashion accessories
  • symmetry
  • enamel
  • personal adornment
  • silver
  • stylized
  • iridescent
  • scarab

This jewelry by Charles Horner, whose Halifaxbased factory produced high quality silver items for the middle market, shows iridescent enamels in green and blue tones popular in the early twentieth century. The use of the moth motif reflects French art nouveau inspiration and multi-colored enamel replicates the iridescence of genuine insect wings.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18647963/

  • inlaid gold and mother-of-pearl, chased gilt-metal, enamel
  • Gift of the Panwy Foundation, from the collection of Maria Wyman
  • display
  • Cupid
  • storage
  • decorative
  • flowering vine

Ancient Middle Eastern cultures were some of the first to value pearls. Pearl shell and pearl-adorned objects have been found at archaeological sites across the Roman Empire. From flatware handles to jewelry, designers have prized pearls as iridescent decorative accents for a variety of objects of utility and personal adornment for centuries.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18653913/

  • engraved and gilded silver, carved mother-of-pearl
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, Decorative Arts Association Acquisition, and Sarah Cooper-Hewitt Funds

Made from oyster shell, pearl-handled flatware was popular in the 19th century when grand flatware sets expanded in scope and sophistication.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18653915/

  • engraved and gilded silver, carved mother-of-pearl
  • Museum purchase from Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, Decorative Arts Association Acquisition, and Sarah Cooper-Hewitt Funds

Made from oyster shell, pearl-handled flatware was popular in the 19th century when grand flatware sets expanded in scope and sophistication.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18637065/

  • Designed by William Harper
  • gold, cloisonné enamel on silver, citrine, pearl
  • Museum purchase from Decorative Arts Association Acquisition Fund

For the White Worm brooch, jeweler William Harper combined enameling with gemstones and a pearl embellishment for an overall iridescent effect full of light and movement.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18801011/

  • gold pavé-set with diamonds, enamel, fresh-water pearl
  • Gift from the Thomas W. Evans Collection from University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
  • women's fashion accessories
  • personal adornment
  • luxury
  • drama
  • accessories
  • pearls
  • spirals
  • serpents
  • luminous
  • coil

Ancient Middle Eastern cultures were some of the first to value pearls. Pearl shell and pearl-adorned objects have been found at archaeological sites across the Roman Empire. From flatware handles to jewelry, designers have prized pearls as iridescent decorative accents for a variety of objects of utility and personal adornment for centuries.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18634161/

  • hand-wrought silver, abalone, pearl
  • Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eitel Groeschke in memory of Pauline and Frank Rebajes
  • mother of pearl
  • silver
  • cuff

Ancient Middle Eastern cultures were some of the first to value pearls. Pearl shell and pearl-adorned objects have been found at archaeological sites across the Roman Empire. From flatware handles to jewelry, designers have prized pearls as iridescent decorative accents for a variety of objects of utility and personal adornment for centuries.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18634163/

  • hand-wrought silver, abalone, pearl
  • Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Eitel Groeschke in memory of Pauline and Frank Rebajes
  • mother of pearl
  • silver
  • pearl
  • ring

Ancient Middle Eastern cultures were some of the first to value pearls. Pearl shell and pearl-adorned objects have been found at archaeological sites across the Roman Empire. From flatware handles to jewelry, designers have prized pearls as iridescent decorative accents for a variety of objects of utility and personal adornment for centuries.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18429335/

  • free-blown glass
  • Museum purchase through gift of Annie I. Kane
  • container
  • vases
  • vessels
  • simple
  • rough
  • glass
  • glassware

In 1892, Arthur J. Nash, an English glassmaker with a great interest in chemistry, arrived in New York to work with Louis Comfort Tiffany.Nash began experiments with luster glass that redefined the artistic direction of Tiffany’s firm. Nash developed multi-colored glass with a high sheen inspired by the unintended lustrous colors of excavated ancient glass. Heat and temperature control as well as the careful weighing of the ingredients into the batch were important for successful production. Tiffany also collected ancient glass, and firsthand object study contributed to his studio’s adoption of historic forms and techniques.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18454061/

  • mold-blown favrile glass
  • Bequest of Joseph L. Morris
  • floral
  • ovoid
  • amber
  • flanged lip

In 1892, Arthur J. Nash, an English glassmaker with a great interest in chemistry, arrived in New York to work with Louis Comfort Tiffany.Nash began experiments with luster glass that redefined the artistic direction of Tiffany’s firm. Nash developed multi-colored glass with a high sheen inspired by the unintended lustrous colors of excavated ancient glass. Heat and temperature control as well as the careful weighing of the ingredients into the batch were important for successful production. Tiffany also collected ancient glass, and firsthand object study contributed to his studio’s adoption of historic forms and techniques.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18440563/

  • mold-pressed and tooled glass
  • Gift of Mrs. Leo Wallerstein
  • container
  • iridescent
  • glass
  • ribbed
  • bowl

In 1892, Arthur J. Nash, an English glassmaker with a great interest in chemistry, arrived in New York to work with Louis Comfort Tiffany.Nash began experiments with luster glass that redefined the artistic direction of Tiffany’s firm. Nash developed multi-colored glass with a high sheen inspired by the unintended lustrous colors of excavated ancient glass. Heat and temperature control as well as the careful weighing of the ingredients into the batch were important for successful production. Tiffany also collected ancient glass, and firsthand object study contributed to his studio’s adoption of historic forms and techniques. Trailed decoration that produced zigzag patterning and handles on ancient vessels likely inspired Tiffany’s incorporation of swooping handles.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18391643/

  • free-blown favrile glass
  • Gift of Anonymous Donor
  • container
  • wavy
  • texture
  • iridescent
  • ridges
  • irregular
  • glass
  • organic form

In 1892, Arthur J. Nash, an English glassmaker with a great interest in chemistry, arrived in New York to work with Louis Comfort Tiffany.Nash began experiments with luster glass that redefined the artistic direction of Tiffany’s firm. Nash developed multi-colored glass with a high sheen inspired by the unintended lustrous colors of excavated ancient glass. Heat and temperature control as well as the careful weighing of the ingredients into the batch were important for successful production. Tiffany also collected ancient glass, and firsthand object study contributed to his studio’s adoption of historic forms and techniques. Trailed decoration that produced zigzag patterning and handles on ancient vessels likely inspired Tiffany’s incorporation of swooping handles such as those seen here.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18440559/

  • free-blown glass with trailed decoration
  • Gift of Mrs. Leo Wallerstein
  • iridescent
  • textured
  • handles
  • jar

In 1892, Arthur J. Nash, an English glassmaker with a great interest in chemistry, arrived in New York to work with Louis Comfort Tiffany.Nash began experiments with luster glass that redefined the artistic direction of Tiffany’s firm. Nash developed multi-colored glass with a high sheen inspired by the unintended lustrous colors of excavated ancient glass. Heat and temperature control as well as the careful weighing of the ingredients into the batch were important for successful production. Tiffany also collected ancient glass, and firsthand object study contributed to his studio’s adoption of historic forms and techniques. Trailed decoration that produced zigzag patterning and handles on ancient vessels likely inspired Tiffany’s incorporation of swooping handles.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18454095/

  • mold-blown favrile glass
  • Bequest of Joseph L. Morris
  • decorative
  • texture
  • iridescent
  • vessel

In 1892, Arthur J. Nash, an English glassmaker with a great interest in chemistry, arrived in New York to work with Louis Comfort Tiffany.Nash began experiments with luster glass that redefined the artistic direction of Tiffany’s firm. Nash developed multi-colored glass with a high sheen inspired by the unintended lustrous colors of excavated ancient glass. Heat and temperature control as well as the careful weighing of the ingredients into the batch were important for successful production. Tiffany also collected ancient glass, and firsthand object study contributed to his studio’s adoption of historic forms and techniques. In the Middle Ages, blobs of glass called prunts were applied to vessels to provide a grip in the absence of a handle. Tiffany adapted the prunt as a stylistic element on his iridescent forms, as seen here.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18442637/

  • blown favrile glass
  • Gift of Mrs. Edward C. Moën
  • decoration
  • dining
  • drinking
  • texture
  • iridescent
  • glass
  • color transitions

In 1892, Arthur J. Nash, an English glassmaker with a great interest in chemistry, arrived in New York to work with Louis Comfort Tiffany.Nash began experiments with luster glass that redefined the artistic direction of Tiffany’s firm. Nash developed multi-colored glass with a high sheen inspired by the unintended lustrous colors of excavated ancient glass. Heat and temperature control as well as the careful weighing of the ingredients into the batch were important for successful production. Tiffany also collected ancient glass, and firsthand object study contributed to his studio’s adoption of historic forms and techniques. In the Middle Ages, blobs of glass called prunts were applied to vessels to provide a grip in the absence of a handle. Tiffany adapted the prunt as a stylistic element on his iridescent forms, as seen here.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18607585/

  • Designed by Hector Guimard
  • Manufactured by Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
  • stoneware
  • Gift of Mme. Hector Guimard
  • interior
  • decoration
  • container
  • organic
  • abstraction
  • scrolls
  • irregular
  • earth tones

At the turn of the twentieth century during the art nouveau period, major European ceramic firms took advantage of iridescent glazes to maximize their expressions of an organic style. At the Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory in France, Guimard’s use of a new glaze that included crystal particles brought great dimension to his vase that depicts the growth of a floral form from its roots to its blooms.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18708063/

  • pressed and hand-shaped, high-fired eosin-glazed fine white earthenware
  • Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund
  • organic
  • bulbous
  • leaf
  • squat

At the turn of the twentieth century during the art nouveau period, major European ceramic firms took advantage of iridescent glazes to maximize their expressions of an organic style. The use of eosin-reduced glazing at the Zsolnay factory in Hungary created vivid freeform color patterns.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18802897/

  • Designed by Jacques Sicard
  • molded, glazed, and lustered earthenware
  • iridescent
  • bulbous
  • pear shaped
  • handles

The popularity of Tiffany’s iridescent glass and ceramics prompted potter Samuel Weller to hire Jacques Sicard, a pupil of the French ceramicist Clément Massier, to develop iridescent wares for his Ohio-based firm in 1902. Sicard and his assistant Henri Gellie, also from France, worked in secrecy to develop their glaze formula for the successful ceramics line called Sicardo.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18802895/

  • Designed by Jacques Sicard
  • molded, glazed, and lustered earthenware
  • multicolored
  • foliage
  • carnations
  • vase
  • earthenware

The popularity of Tiffany’s iridescent glass and ceramics prompted potter Samuel Weller to hire Jacques Sicard, a pupil of the French ceramicist Clément Massier, to develop iridescent wares for his Ohio-based firm in 1902. Sicard and his assistant Henri Gellie, also from France, worked in secrecy to develop their glaze formula for the successful ceramics line called Sicardo.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18618511/

  • Designed by Jacques Sicard
  • molded, glazed, and lustered earthenware
  • earthenware
  • metallic luster
  • plaque
  • Pre-Raphaelite
  • halo

The popularity of Tiffany’s iridescent glass and ceramics prompted potter Samuel Weller to hire Jacques Sicard, a pupil of the French ceramicist Clément Massier, to develop iridescent wares for his Ohio-based firm in 1902. Sicard and his assistant Henri Gellie, also from France, worked in secrecy to develop their glaze formula for the successful ceramics line called Sicardo.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18638831/

  • glazed and lustered earthenware
  • Museum purchase through bequest of Dona Guimaraes
  • ceramics
  • putti
  • neoclassical
  • display

The British Arts and Crafts designer William De Morgan worked as a painter and then a stained glass artist before turning to ceramics in 1869. In his tireless experiments with colors and glazes, the designer revived the medieval luster technique. De Morgan freely combined historical references. For instance, this platter’s border and central design of putti derives from Renaissance-style patterning.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/69167765/

  • hand-painted and metallic-glazed thrown earthenware
  • Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund and through gift of Barbara Munves, Dr. Barbra B. and Mr. Hal F. Higginbotham, and Susan Hermanos
  • landscape
  • nature
  • craftsmanship

This vase is one of the largest known pieces by Clément Massier, a master of iridescent glazes at the turn of the twentieth century. Massier studied historical pieces of Spanish lusterware, such as the plate to the right, under the influence of Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, his collaborator who collected these wares. This bright multidimensional vase uses different combinations of suspension materials that produced variations in color with multiple firings.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18558413/

  • glazed and lustered earthenware
  • Gift of Mrs. Laurent Oppenheim in memory of Laurent Oppenheim
  • foliate
  • copper
  • plate
  • star
  • luster

In the 14th century,the region of Valencia, Spain became a center for the production of the most elaborate lusterware. These ceramics,technically superior to any other wares produced in late-medieval Europe, became a successful export.This plate shows decoration of Islamic origin,including stylized birds, palm and fern elements, as well as interlace patterns of curving lines and geometric shapes.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18651071/

  • Designed by Walter Crane
  • Manufactured by Maw and Co.
  • glazed and lustered earthenware
  • Museum purchase from Charles E. Sampson Memorial Fund
  • neoclassical
  • ovoid
  • red
  • elongated
  • flared lip

Walter Crane’s tiles and pottery for Maw and Co., one of Britain’s leading potteries in the late 19th century, are some of the earliest examples of industrially produced lusterware. This vase’s model was one of seven works in red lusterware exhibited at the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society’s Third Exhibition in 1890. The frieze of maidens in ruby luster reflects Crane’s allegiances to classical and medieval art and his affinity for allegorical subjects.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108828455/

  • Manufactured by Pilkington’s Tile & Pottery Co.
  • glazed and lustered earthenware
  • Gift of Caroline Rennolds Milbank
  • iridescent
  • medieval
  • heraldry
  • handles

Gordon Mitchell Forsyth, art director of Pilkington’s ceramic firm in northern England from 1906 to 1919, oversaw the pottery’s development of a series of high luster glazes. The moniker “Lancastrian” was used for the new metallic glaze, after the firm’s location in the county by the same name. This vase’s decoration of heraldic lions and winding foliage is in keeping with the medieval tendencies of Pre-Raphaelite pottery.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18490389/

  • Manufactured by Steuben Glass Works
  • blown, iridized, and tooled glass
  • Museum purchase from Mary Blackwelder Memorial Fund
  • container
  • neoclassical
  • symmetry
  • ovoid
  • iridescent

Aurene, one of the first artistic effects that designer Frederick Carder created for the glass firm Steuben, imitates the iridescence of Roman glass. The iridescence was achieved by adding salts to the batch and spraying clear glass with a metallic chloride and refiring it under specific conditions. This technology earned a patent in 1904. The name Aurene is derived from Carder’s combination of the chemical symbol for gold, “Au,” and the word sheen. Carder produced this brilliant blue shade by adding cobalt oxide to the gold Aurene batch.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18802893/

  • Designed by Jacques Sicard
  • glazed and lustered earthenware
  • Gift of Marcia and William Goodman
  • interior
  • decoration
  • container
  • metallic
  • irises
  • floral
  • flared
  • iridescent
  • tapered

The influence of Jacques Sicard’s training with the leading French ceramicist Clément Massier is evident in this monumental ovoid vase. Sicard imitated Massier’s metallic lustered finishes to develop a new artistic line, which he named Sicardo, for the American Weller Pottery. This vase was likely one of twenty vases that adorned the lobby of the Weller Theatre, noted in the period for its beautiful interior decoration, in the pottery’s hometown of Zanesville, Ohio.

This object is currently on display in room 213 in Carnegie Mansion.

Iridescence

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/2318792691/

  • Designed by Beatrice Wood
  • thrown luster-glazed earthenware
  • Gift of Garth Clark and Mark Del Vecchio

Beatrice Wood’s fascination with luster began as a young visitor to museums where she saw Persian luster plates. In the 1930s, Wood took a pottery class in order to develop her own techniques for lusterware, a trial that would become a lifelong pursuit. While historically luster was used as surface decoration on already-glazed forms, Wood worked with in-glaze luster. Gold lustrous glaze became her trademark and she often used it on classically inspired vessels such as the chalice seen here.