This lamp, from about 1900, is a compelling example of Louis Comfort Tiffany's ability to transform a design aesthetic inspired by nature into a fabulous decorative furnishing. The bamboo design is carried throughout the lamp. The dome-shaped 24" shade is constructed of green fibrillated glass with yellow mottling to create long tapering bamboo leaves and shoots against an opalescent geometric panel ground. The bamboo stalks appear to be growing against a wire trellis. The 62" integrated brown patinated bronze sectioned bamboo stem base is topped with a matching bamboo-inspired heat cap with a seedpod finial.
The lamp was a bequest from the estate of Mary Marvin Breckinridge Patterson, a generous Washington philanthropist. Following in the family tradition of supporting charitable, cultural, and preservation organizations, Mrs. Patterson was the source of numerous gifts and donations to the Smithsonian Institution and its museums and libraries. She was the daughter of Isabella Goodrich and attorney John Cabell Breckinridge. Her maternal grandfather was inventor and industrialist B. F. Goodrich. Her paternal great-grandfather was John C. Breckinridge, vice president of the United States and a military figure. She began her career as a freelance photojournalist and filmmaker. One of her first film subjects was the Frontier Nursing Service in Kentucky. During World War II, she was hired by Edward R. Murrow as a staff broadcaster for CBS in Berlin. Her photographs were published in National Geographic, Life and Harper's Bazaar. In 1940 she married American diplomat Jefferson Patterson and took on the role of diplomatic wife.
Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History