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Queens Chronicle

Tiffany’s ‘dream gardens’ on display

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Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2016 10:30 am

Twenty-five Tiffany lamps and shades — some of them never on public display before — are on exhibit in an exquisite new show that will run for two years at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Titled “A Passion for Tiffany Lamps,” the exhibit is a delicious smorgasbord of Louis Tiffany’s leaded glass fixtures, most of which date back to 1905. These works of art are from the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, a nonprofit group based in Long Island City and founded by Dr. Egon Neustadt and his wife, Hildegard. Austrian emigres, the Neustadts collected more than 200 lamps and other Tiffany pieces during their lifetimes. She died in 1961 and he in 1984.

Although the couple had residences in Manhattan and Connecticut, their first home was in Flushing on Parsons Boulevard.The Neustadts bought their first Tiffany lamp, with a daffodil pattern, from a secondhand shop in 1935 when Tiffany’s creations had gone out of fashion.

They purchased the lamp for $12.50. A similar one sold at auction in 2011 for $56,763.

Since 1995, the Queens Museum has partnered with the Neustadt Collection to have a permanent Tiffany gallery. Tiffany’s link to the borough is strong. His foundry, glass furnaces and workshops were located on 43rd Avenue in Corona, at what is now the site of the new PS 315.

Lindsy Parrott, director and curator of the Neustadt Collection, said that Neustadt was a very persistent collector who bought in multiples because each lamp was unique in color, texture or pattern. So in the Queens Museum show there are, for example, three grape hanging shades. While the patterns here are similar, the colors are not.

What’s particularly nice about the Queens Museum display is that viewers can get up close to the fixtures. There is no glass separating the lamps from the public. Of course, no touching is allowed. The colors are vivid and seem to come alive. There are dragonflies, wisteria, geraniums, magnolia, peacock feathers and more.

Neustadt was a successful orthodontist and land developer, but in the 1960s he balked at paying $4,000 for a wisteria lamp since most were selling for around $2,000. After weeks of negotiating, he ultimately bought it for the asking price. Today those wisteria lamps sell for between $350,000 and $1.5 million.

The exhibit also features some rare examples of Tiffany lamps. An enchanting lily pad globe, believed to have lit up a newel post, is one of two known to exist. A peacock hanging shade with a copper exterior and colored glass inside is also one of only two known.

Neustadt compared Tiffany’s shades to changing bouquets and said the designers “grew dream gardens where dramatic flowers flourished.” Parrott said his Manhattan brownstone was filled with lamps and other Tiffany items and that he catalogued everything with his own classifications based on shape and motif. The Neustadt Collection was established in 1969, first at a museum in the home.

Overall, the new exhibit is a gem, from the smallest desk lamp to the largest hanging fixture. This is a lovely way to see decorative art that has a real connection to Queens. You won’t be disappointed.

‘A Passion for Tiffany Lamps’
When: Through April 2018
Where: Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Tickets: $8; $4 seniors; free for kids, students
(718) 592-9700, queensmuseum.org

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