These andirons were designed for the library of the Louisine and Henry Osborne Havemeyer residence at East Sixty-sixth Street in New York City. The Havemeyers, one of the most avid art-collecting families in late nineteenth-century America, commissioned Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1890 to design and outfit the interior of their home. By the time of the Havemeyer commission, Tiffany had for the most part abandoned interior design, devoting most of his attention to work in glass.1 To assist in the commission, Tiffany sought the assistance of Samuel Colman, a principal at the design firm Associated Artists (1879–83). The house was completed by the spring of 1890, and two years later the interior was finished. The results were, as William J. Hennessey wrote, “a virtuosic performance. Great leaps of imagination united every sort of color, pattern and texture into a beautiful and effective setting for the Havemeyers’ collection.”2[1]

A contemporary described the library, also called the Rembrandt Room (because of the art displayed within), this way: “The furniture and the woodwork in the library were based on Viking designs and Celtic motifs ... . The library ceiling was a sensation ... a mosaic design of multicolor silks, outlined with heavy braid and framed with carved gold moldings.”3 In the library, the design elements were unified: the carved scroll motif found in the mantel was repeated throughout the room, in the architectural woodwork, as well as in the furnishings. The interlaced Celtic strap work, or interlaced bands, used in the room’s coved frieze, stenciled wall pattern, and furniture is also the dominant motif of the andirons. Colman designed most elements of the room, but Tiffany created the andirons, as the mediums employed in their fabrication—most notably glass—were those that he embraced in his other work. Tiffany adapted Colman’s braided Celtic strap work for surface embellishment of the andirons, patinated bronze to resemble wrought iron, which gave the impression of handwrought medieval metalwork. He capped each andiron with blue-black Favrile glass orbs, creating a synthesis of design with the armchairs that Colman designed for the library, which also consisted of carved strap work frames surmounted by orbs.
Adapted from Tottis, James W. Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 81, nos. 1­–2 (2007): 32–33.

Notes
1. The only other major design project Tiffany completed after the demise of Associated Artists is for his own home, Laurelton Hall (1904).
2. W. J. Hennessey, The Havemeyer Tiffany Collection at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (The University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, 1992), 14.
3. The library of the house was called the Rembrandt Room because it contained many of the family’s Dutch baroque paintings, eight of which were attributed to Rembrandt at the time. See S. Bing, “La Culture artistique en Amerique” (1895), trans. Benita Eisler and reprinted in Artistic America, Tiffany Glass and Art Nouveau (Cambridge, Mass., 1970), 130.
Artist Louis Comfort Tiffany, American, 1848-1933
Manufacturer Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, American, 1892-1902
Title
  • Pair of Andirons
Date between ca. 1892 and 1902
Medium bronze with Favrile glass
Dimensions Overall (each): 23 5/8 × 9 1/4 × 22 1/2 inches (60 × 23.5 × 57.2 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Beatrice W. Rogers Fund
Accession Number 1994.44
Department American Art before 1950
Not On View
H. O. and Louisine Havemeyer;
Margaret Caldwell;
1994-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Weitzenhoffer, Frances. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Come to America. New York, 1986, p.74.

"American Decorative Arts Acquisitions 1985-2005." Bulletin of the DIA 81, 1-2 (2007): pp. 32-33, 73.