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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Tiffany Lamp – Nasturtium Shade with Mosaic Turtleback Tile Base

Nasturtium Shade with Mosaic Turtleback Tile Base - Tiffany Lamp - www.joyofmuseums.com - New-York Historical Society

Tiffany Lamp – Nasturtium Shade with Mosaic Turtleback Tile Base

This “Nasturtium Shade with Mosaic Turtleback Tile Base is a Tiffany Lamp probably designed by Clara Driscoll. For the Tiffany design studio designers, the colour was more important than the correct form. In many of the flower designed Tiffany Lamps, the form came secondary to the colour esthetic. In this example texture and colour take precedence over botanical accuracy.

A Tiffany lamp is a type of lamp with a glass shade made of glass designed by Tiffany & Co and its design teams. Tiffany lamps are considered part of the Art Nouveau movement. Due to Tiffany’s dominant influence on the style, the term ‘Tiffany lamp’ or ‘Tiffany style lamp’ has often been used to refer to stained leaded glass lamps even those not made by Louis Comfort Tiffany’s company.

Tiffany Lamps

The first Tiffany lamp was created around 1895. Each lamp was handmade by skilled craftsmen and women, not mass-produced. Its designer was a previously unrecognized artist named Clara Driscoll who was identified as the master designer behind the most creative and valuable leaded glass lamps produced by Tiffany Studios. Every lampshade is prepared by using the copper foil method as follows:

  • A pattern for the lamp shade is drawn out on a  piece of heavy cardboard
  • A number and glass colour is written on the pattern piece
  • The glass is laid over pattern and traced
  • The glass pieces are cut and ground to their shape
  • The glass pieces are cleaned, and copper foil is applied to the edges
  • A copper foil solution allows the pieces to adhere together
  • After the lamp pieces are fully bonded, the edges are soldered
  • The lamp is then  cleaned and polished

Louis Comfort Tiffany

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848 – 1933) was a designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau. Tiffany designed stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewellery, enamels, and metalwork. He was the first Design Director at his family company, Tiffany & Co., founded by his father.

Clara Driscoll

Clara Driscoll (1861 – 1944) was head of the Tiffany Studios Women’s Glass Cutting Department, known as the “Tiffany Girls” in New York City. Using patterns created from the original designs, these women selected and cut the glass to be used in the beautiful lamps. Driscoll designed more than thirty Tiffany lamps produced by Tiffany Studios, yet almost nothing was known about Driscoll until recently. It is now believed that Clara Driscoll and the “Tiffany Girls” created many of the Tiffany lamps initially attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany and his staff of male designers.

Tiffany & Co.

Today Tiffany & Co. is an American jewellery and speciality retailer, headquartered in New York City. It was first founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany together with partners in 1837 in Connecticut, as a stationary and fancy goods emporium.  In 1853, Charles Tiffany took control and established the firm’s emphasis on jewellery and shortened the name to Tiffany & Company. Unlike other stores at the time in the 1830s, Tiffany marked the prices on its goods to reduce haggling over prices. Also, Tiffany only accepted cash payments and did not allow purchases on credit, which was against the norm at the time. Today Tiffany & Co is a public company on the New York Stock Exchange.

Key Tiffany & Co. milestones include:

  • 1837 – Founded
  • 1845 – first Tiffany mail-order catalogue was published
  • 1862 – during the US Civil War, Tiffany supplied the Union Army with swords, cavalry sabre, flags and surgical implements
  • 1867 – Tiffany was the first U.S. firm to win an excellence award in silverware at the Exposition Universelle in Paris
  • 1919 – Tiffany revised the Medal of Honor on behalf of the United States Department of the Navy
  • 1940 – Tiffany’s flagship store at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan, New York City.
  • 1978 – Tiffany & Co. was sold to Avon Products Inc.
  • 1984 – Avon sold Tiffany to an investor group
  • 1987 – Tiffany went public again as a public company on the New York Stock Exchange.

Explore Tiffany Lamps

Reflections

  • What images does a 1900’s Tiffany Lamp conjure up?
  • Which is your favourite Tiffany Lamp design?
  • Is Color is to the eye, what music is to the ear?

“Nasturtium Shade” – Tiffany Lamp

  • Title:                 “Nasturtium Shade” – Tiffany Lamp
  • Base:                 “Mosaic and Turtleback Tile Base”
  • Designer:         Probably Carla Driscoll
  • Year:                 1900 – 02
  • Museum:          New-York Historical Society

Designer – Clara Driscoll

    • Name:              Clara Driscoll
    • Born:               1861 – Tallmadge, Ohio
    • Died:                1944 (aged 83) – New York City, New York, US

Master Designer – Louis Comfort Tiffany

  • Name:              Louis Comfort Tiffany
  • Born:               1848 – New York City, New York, US
  • Died:                1933 (aged 84) – New York City, New York, US
  • Movements:   Art Nouveau and Aesthetic

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“Color is to the eye what music is to the ear.”
– Louis Comfort Tiffany

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Photo Credit: JOM

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