Balustrade, portion from the third floor stairwell of the Henry O. Havemeyer house, New York

Accession Number

Balustrade, portion from the third floor stairwell of the Henry O. Havemeyer house, New York

Louis Comfort Tiffany

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
gilt metal and opalescent favrile glass

32 in x 42 in (81.28 cm x 106.68 cm)

Credit Line
University purchase 1930, transferred to the Museum of Art

Label copy
March 28, 2009
This segment of balustrade comes from the “flying staircase” in the Havemeyer house, which was suspended by cables from the ceiling. The balustrade fragment underscores how Tiffany combined exquisite elements, such as the white glass “commas” or paisleys, with pre-fabricated, machine-made supports. The mastery of materials, however, is consummate and the effect remains sumptuous. The flying staircase was known not just for its visual beauty but for another aspect—its aural quality. The glass commas are set loosely in the metal framework so that a faint tinkling sound would be produced when someone walked on the stairs.

Subject matter
One of the aspects of this work (and with several other Havemeyer pieces) was the integration of handmade deluxe components with prefabricated, machine-made elements. The glass "commas" are set in a metal armature that includes manufactured components.

Physical Description
Gilt metal balustrade fragment from staircase in Havemeyer house. Vertical rods alternate with S-shaped metal design with milky opalescent "commas" in the "S". These alternating elements are held together with soft metal joins; the glass pieces are set loosely in their metal mounts.

Primary Object Classification
Decorative Arts

Primary Object Type
architectural element

Collection Area

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Havemeyer house
Objects We Use
architectural elements

8 Related Resources

Backstory: Louis Comfort Tiffany
(Part of 7 Learning Collections)
The Havemeyer House
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
The Havemeyer Tiffany Collection
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
"Egungun Costuming in Abeokuta"
(Part of: Yoruba Articles)
Essay: Havemeyer House
(Part of: Essays)

& Author Notes

All Rights Reserved

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ AMH, 2nd floor ➜ 201 (Tiffany: Between Taubman I doors)