The stained glass lampshades produced by Tiffany Studios around the turn of the 20th century are still considered some of the finest examples of modern glasswork. Until relatively recently, it was assumed that as with Tiffany’s glass windows, the stained glass lampshades had been designed by Tiffany himself. However, a couple of years ago, new research revealed that most, if not all, of the lampshade designs that featured flowers and other nature scenes were actually created by a woman named Clara Driscoll.
Women were employed by Tiffany Studios to select colours for Tiffany’s stained glasswork as their eye for colour was considered to be better than that of the men who were employed in other areas of the factory. Despite this it would have been highly unusual for Clara to have been involved in designing items, as this was viewed as work that would have “belonged” to the men of the factory.
The lamps produced by Tiffany Studios were instantly popular and were highly commercially successful. It was likely this popularly that allowed Clara to continue to design these lamps as Tiffany was as much a businessman as he was an artist. That these lamps are still so highly valued today speaks to Clara Driscoll’s sense of colour and design as well as the craftsmanship of Tiffany Studios.
Dragonfly Lamp Photo courtesy: Hannes Grobe, 2007 Used in accordance with Creative Commons license.
Clara Driscoll Photo courtesy Museum of Modern Art. 1901. Used in accordance with Creative Commons license.