Without a doubt, there is no artist who had a bigger impact on modern glass art and design than Louis Comfort Tiffany. His name is synonymous with stained glass, and in particular, stained glass lamps. Which is ironic, because many of his most famous designs were the work of someone else – a woman named Clara Driscoll.
It’s not possible to talk about Clara Driscoll without talking about Tiffany. More than what we think of as an artist today, Tiffany was a late-Victorian industrialist, who figured out how to mass-produce art glass and related home decor items on a large scale. Although we didn’t rediscover her impact until recently, much of Tiffany’s success was due to Clara Driscoll.
Clara Driscoll was the head of a group of women who worked for Tiffany Studios and who were known as the ‘Tiffany Girls.’ These women were responsible for designing and assembling the smaller and more intricate home decor works that Tiffany Studios produced. After a union protest from the male employees, the larger stained glass window installations were produced solely by men.
Because Driscoll’s work was almost always exhibited and credited under the Tiffany Studios name, it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that her true influence as a designed was revealed.
Altogether, more than 30 Tiffany Studios designs have now been credited to Driscoll, including the well-known Dragonfly lamp, which won top prize at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. Who knows how many more pieces she actually designed?
For more on Clara Driscoll, check out A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls.