On View: Decorative Art, 20th-Century Decorative Arts, 4th Floor
Although Louis Comfort Tiffany also designed mosaics, ceramics, lighting, jewelry, metalwork, and interiors, he is perhaps best known for his work in glass. Tiffany, a son of the founder of the New York jewelry and silver firm Tiffany and Company, had already earned a reputation for his interiors and stained-glass windows when in 1893 he established what would become Tiffany Studios, a glass factory in Corona, Queens, with the English glassblower Arthur Nash. Together they developed a new type of blown glass that stood out for its embedded iridescent colors, metallic luster, and satiny surfaces. Tiffany named the glass Favrile, borrowing from the Old English word fabrile, referring to handwork. It was Nash, however, who invented the glass formula, which he kept a closely guarded secret—even from Tiffany himself. Tiffany Studios did not produce all the Favrile shades for their bronze lamps themselves. The studio collaborated with the New York City firm of Quezal Art Glass and Decorating Company, for example, on the lamp with lily-flower shades seen here.
Tiffany was inspired by ancient Roman and Syrian glass, which, when it was buried in the earth, had turned iridescent as it reacted to the minerals in the soil. Tiffany produced Favrile glass in a dizzying array of shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns. He considered the pieces to be works of art and actively endeavored to place them in museum collections.
Tiffany Studios also manufactured popular but expensive bronze and brilliantly colored stained-glass lamps suitable for the recently invented electric light bulb. Clara Driscoll, head of the Women’s Glass Cutting Department at Tiffany Studios, was responsible for the design of this Dragonfly lamp. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, women played increasingly important design and fabrication roles in the production of decorative arts, including ceramics, glass, and furniture.
Glass, bronze, and lead
18 1/4 x 14 x 14 in. (46.4 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm) (show scale)
Stamped on underside of base: "TIFFANY STUDIOS / NEW YORK / 337"
Bequest of Laura L. Barnes
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Clara Wolcott Driscoll (American, 1861 - 1944). "Dragonfly" Lamp, ca. 1900-1920. Glass, bronze, and lead, 18 1/4 x 14 x 14 in. (46.4 x 35.6 x 35.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Laura L. Barnes, 67.120.54. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 67.120.54.jpg)
overall, 67.120.54.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Table lamp in glass, lead, and bronze. "Dragonfly" design shade of predominantly amber and blue colors. Upper portion of shade is veined; lower portion decorated with band of dragonflies with outspread wings overlaid in pierced bronze encircling perimeter. Three light sockets on horizontally curving arms; vasiform shaft with vertical lobes; circular base with undulating ribbed surface.
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