Thursday, August 11, 2011

A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls

"Louis Comfort Tiffany was one of the most recognized designers of his time in decorative arts, especially in stained glass. However, some lamps, windows and other decorative objects which were originally thought to be designed by Tiffany himself, are now recognized as designed and executed by a special group of women who worked for Tiffany at the turn of the 20th century. The “Tiffany Girls”, as they were called, worked for Louis Comfort Tiffany in the Women’s Glass Cutting Department of Tiffany Studios along with their department head, Ohio-born designer Clara Driscoll (1861-1944)."
~from the museum website

I recently checked out the A New Light on Tiffany display at the Albuquerque Museum & it was such a treat that I wanted to recommend the experience to everyone! I had seen Tiffany creations before, but I had never heard about the Tiffany Girls. There are many lovely Tiffany pieces to see in this exhibit, as well as a presentation of what Clara Driscoll's life might have been like-you can see a bicycle of the style she might have ridden, & even listen to a recording of one of her favorite singers. I especially liked, at the end, the representation of what a Tiffany Girl's lodging might have looked like-including some daunting looking boots!

Of course, the sad thing about the exhibit is to see so many pieces labeled "probably" created by Clara Driscoll. Apparently, the only way we know which items were created by her is from reading her letters, which, thankfully, someone held on to! Also, I discovered that you were only allowed to work for Tiffany if you were unmarried-once you married, you were expected to abandon your employment, which seems unfair for a designer of Clara Driscoll's talent.

You can still enjoy the exhibit at the Albuquerque Museum, featuring 70 Tiffany lamps, windows, mosaics, enamels and ceramics, as well as pages of newly discovered documents written by designer Clara Driscoll, until August 21st! You can buy your tickets online, but if you want to take advantage of the New Mexico resident discount, wait to get your tickets at the museum.

There is a still a considerable hold list on Susan Vreeland's Clara & Mr. Tiffany, a fictionalized account of their relationship, but the library catalog has several histories of Tiffany & Company & books about Louis Comfort Tiffany that you can check out while you're waiting! Please note that Clara & Mr. Tiffany is also available from our digital library, both as an eBook & downloadable audiobook.

No comments: