An on-line news service devoted to museums and exhibitions in New York City and vicinity. John Hammond, Editor Emeritus • Jonathan Slaff, Publisher • copyright © 2007
A NEW LIGHT ON TIFFANY
At the New-York Historical Society
By Glenn Loney
The New York Historical Society
2 W. 77th St. at Central Park West
Closing May 28, 2007
''Poppy New Base''
The Big Surprise about Louis Comfort Tiffany--just revealed at the New-York Historical Society--is that he never designed those famous Tiffany Lampshades, for which he is so widely acclaimed!
No, indeed. The real artist-craftsperson responsible was Clara Driscoll. Not only did she and some of her female co-workers--in the Tiffany Studios' Women's Glass-cutting Department--design these colorful Art Nouveau ornaments, including the much-desired ''Dragonfly'' pattern, but they also cut and banded the pieces of glass for the shades.
The actual shades--including the popular Peony and Wisteria designs--were then leaded and soldered by Tiffany's male glass-workers. They were Unionized; the women were not. And thereby hangs a Tale…
Clara Driscoll also designed other decorative objects for Tiffany, some of which are on display over on Central Park West. Most of the work of the ''Tiffany Girls,'' however, was confined to cutting Tiffany's colored-glass into intricate pieces for his stained-glass windows, mosaics, and the lampshades.
Fortunately, Driscoll kept journals & wrote letters about both the studio-work and her own life as a Working-Girl in New York City. So part of the exhibition shows how these women spent their leisure-time and how they lived in general.
This show serves as an attractive pendant to the Metropolitan Museum's current Tiffany Blockbuster, bringing his lovely Laurelton Hall Estate back to life.
And, as the New-York Historical Society has long had a very large collection of Tiffany Lampshades, the discovery of Clara Driscoll as their creator offers an opportune occasion to display them once again!