Tiffany Lamps: A Brief History



Clara Driscoll,Louis Comfort Tiffany,Tiffany,tiffany glass,tiffany lamps

The history of Tiffany-style glass was an undisputed matter of record for over a century until research conducted by a Rutgers professor shed some new light (no pun intended) on the true origins of some of Tiffany's most popular and recognized designs. Louis Comfort Tiffany, an American artist influenced heavily by the Art Nouveau movement and most known for his work with stained glass, was credited with the invention and production of Tiffany lamps, but in 2006 it was revealed that an artist named Clara Driscoll (née Wolcott) was largely responsible for designing what people picture in their minds when they hear the words "Tiffany lamp." Driscoll was born in Tallmadge, Ohio, in 1861 and it was clear from the beginning that she had an appetite for art. Defying the limitations set upon women at the time, she pursued higher education and subsequently discovered she had a talent for design while studying in Cleveland and then New York. After gaining some experience designing for a furniture maker, her skill landed her a job at the then already successful Tiffany Studios. Tiffany had worked hard to make a name for himself as a master glass artisan, but had yet to develop the artwork that would carry his name into the annals of history. It would take well over a hundred years before Professor Martin Eidelberg, along with independent scholar Nina Gray and New-York Historical Society curator Margaret Hofer, uncovered the truth about Driscoll and her team - known back then as the "Tiffany Girls" - and their absolute influence over the design of the lamps. The discovery was first revealed to the world in 2006 and more or less replaced the trumped-up history of the lamp's design origins by the following year. Lines that were exclusively credited to Tiffany and his staff of male designers that were actually designed by the Tiffany Girls include the Wisteria, Dragonfly, Peony and Daffodil.  Clara was a widow during her 20-odd years at Tiffany Studios, but remarried in 1909. Unfortunately, that meant the end of Clara's career because at that time married women could not work for Tiffany. As we all know, though, that didn't mean the end of Tiffany lamps. Tiffany-style lamps have retained their popularity over the years and are still produced by many manufacturers. Of course, original lamps made at Tiffany Studios are quite rare and can fetch prices from the low thousands to millions of dollars. But, for those of us who can't afford to spend $4,000 on a lamp there are many reputable artisans who craft replicas of comparable beauty and quality. Truer Tiffany replicas will adhere to the themes of nature found in the originals, although now many lamps that utilize stained glass and soldering are described as Tiffany-style lamps. While some may argue breaking from tradition is bad, others believe that beauty in art is really found in adaptation and allowing familiar styles to inform new creations.

Master glass artisans at Meyda craft this Tiffany Reproduction by hand using methods developed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

This Tiffany Reproduction by Meyda uses hand-cut glass and copper foil soldering just as it was done at Tiffany Studios more than 100 years ago.

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