A Tiffany lamp? – How Clara is that?

American artist and decorative arts designer, Louis Comfort Tiffany was born 166 years ago on February 18, 1848. A member of the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic art movements, he was best known for his design work in stained glass including windows, lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewelry, enamel and metalwork.  His glass-making interests began around 1875,when he worked in several glass-houses around the Brooklyn area. Four years later, in 1879, as a member of the Associated Artists collective, he joined forces with Samuel Colman, Lockwood de Forest and Candace Wheeler to form Louis Comfort Tiffany and Associated American Artists.

A desire to concentrate on glass-making saw the dissolvement of this company. Tiffany then began to specialize in using opalescent glass in a variety of colors and textures to create a unique style of stained glass. He later formed his own firm, the Tiffany Glass Company, which after various iterations became Tiffany Glass Furnaces, which by then was operated out of New York.

Tiffany’s first commercially produced lamps date from around 1895.  Recent scholarship led by Professor Martin Eidelberg suggests that a team of female designers led by Clara Driscoll played a big role in designing many of the floral patterns on the famous Tiffany lamp.

  • Featured above is an example of a Tiffany spiderweb leaded glass lampshade with wheat-stalks and leaves; on a mosaic of glass tesserae, over a bronze oil-can base.

For further examples of Glass items see my page on glass within the Decorative Arts section.

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