Lillian Nassau LLC Celebrates its 70th Year
Lillian Nassau LLC, world-renowned specialists in the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios, celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.
Lillian Nassau opened her antiques shop in 1945 in New York City on Third Avenue between 54th and 55th streets, specializing in 18th and 19th Century porcelain, glass and objets d’art. In the 1950’s she became increasingly interested in the decorative arts of the Art Nouveau period. Mrs. Nassau was the first to handle the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios, including Tiffany Studios Lamps and Tiffany Favrile Glass and Favrile Pottery, and became the greatest champion in the revival that began in the mid-1950’s. She is widely credited with almost single-handedly reviving the interest in the work of Tiffany Studios.
Lillian Nassau was a willing lender to early museum exhibitions; her association with top curators paved the way for two early exhibitions of Art Nouveau and Tiffany, the first held at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in 1958 and the second, the seminal show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1960.
In 1967 the gallery moved to its present location at 220 East 57th Street. Although Lillian Nassau was approaching the typical age of retirement, she was building momentum as the driving force behind the revival of the works by Tiffany and the decorative arts of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. “Celebrity collectors and other leading pop culture personalities became clients and seized the opportunity to share in Lillian’s expertise while major museums throughout the United States and Europe steadily made significant acquisitions from the gallery,” says Arlie Sulka, who acquired the business in 2006 after having worked for both Mrs. Nassau and her son, Paul, since 1980. “Following Lillian Nassau’s lead, the gallery continues to dominate the field with its strength and scholarship in Tiffany Studios and Louis Comfort Tiffany.”
With over 35 years of experience, Arlie Sulka is now considered one of the foremost experts on Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios, maintaining the gallery’s world-renowned status. Ms. Sulka has established enduring professional relationships with private clients and regularly advises leading museum curators from around the world.
The gallery continues to place important works by Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios in the permanent collections of major museums and institutions throughout the United States and Europe. The Corning Museum in Corning, New York recently acquired an extremely rare and early example of the Tiffany Studios Dragonfly and Water Flowers Lamp from the gallery; this particular example is believed to be one of the first “Dragonfly” models ever made by the firm, shown at Grafton Gallery in London in 1899. The Dragonfly Lamp has become one of the most iconic works by Tiffany Studios, marking the historical importance of the acquisition of this early model.
Under Ms. Sulka’s direction, the gallery has mounted a series of landmark exhibitions concentrating on the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios. In conjunction with two of the exhibitions, Lillian Nassau LLC published two books, Tiffany Favrile Glass and the Quest of Beauty and Tiffany Favrile Pottery and the Quest of Beauty, written by eminent Tiffany scholar Dr. Martin Eidelberg. Upholding Lillian Nassau’s tradition, the gallery also continues to lend to major museum exhibitions pertaining to the work of Tiffany Studios, most recently lending several pieces to the Hudson River Museum, the Munson Williams Proctor Institute of Art, and the Museum of Biblical Art.
In 2009, the gallery added Mid-Century Modern and Studio Furniture to its inventory, integrating this style of furniture with iconic Tiffany Studios designs. “In the 1950’s, Lillian had strong working relationships with the major designers and tastemakers who would come to the gallery for her advice and expertise, and who ultimately placed key pieces by Tiffany Studios amongst their designs and commissions,” recalls Sulka. Among those designers was Ed Wormley, renowned Mid-Century Modern designer and dear friend of Mrs. Nassau, who incorporated lamps and Favrile Glass by Tiffany Studios in his interior design, and whose design innovation included embedding Favrile Glass Tiles into the surfaces of his furniture.
Sulka continues, “I decided that if pairing the genres worked then, why couldn’t the same aesthetic work in the 21st Century? After all, great things should go with great things, no matter the style. We believe that the right Tiffany Studios lamp can complement a live-edge table by George Nakashima, a work in hand-forged steel by Albert Paley or a carved piece by Wendell Castle.”
“If Lillian could see how the market for Tiffany Studios has evolved and how her gallery has continued to transform and thrive, I know she would be very proud. I am honored to continue the tradition.”
About Lillian Nassau LLC
For seventy years Lillian Nassau LLC has been the first and foremost dealer in the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and Tiffany Studios, including lamps, favrile glass and metalwork. The firm also deals in late 19th and early 20th century decorative arts and sculpture, and Mid-Century Modern and Studio furniture and design.