Pair of doors with frame, c. 1882
Maker: Mistri caste, Ahmedabad, India, 1880s95 x 107 1/2 in. (59-012: A, B) Audio Guide
Exoticism and fine craftsmanship were two fundamentals of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s (1848–1933) decorating style, and there is no better example than the hand-crafted pair of teak doors from India. Tiffany first installed them in his Seventy-Second Street house in New York and then, in 1918, at the main entrance to his Laurelton Hall art gallery, which he decorated in the fashion of an 18th-century Indian residence. Created in a wood workshop in Ahmedabad, India, the doors have elaborate relief decoration achieved mainly by tapping tools, not carving. In 1880, Tiffany and a longtime friend, artist Lockwood de Forest (1850–1932), formed Tiffany & de Forest Decorators, and de Forest and his bride took an extended two-year honeymoon in India to purchase objects for the partnership. At the Ahmedabad workshop he organized, craftsmen used both hands and feet in their work. De Forest noted that they possessed “such skill that every stroke makes their tool do exactly what they intended it should do.” The workshop provided objects for Tiffany interiors for many years. In 1908, de Forest sold his entire stock of Indian carvings and transferred his contract with the Ahmedabad workshop to Tiffany Studios.