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Louis C. Tiffany Dragonfly Lamp (414)

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Uploaded on May 27, 2009

The New-York Historical Society is proud to have in its collection over 130 lamps by Louis Comfort Tiffany's Tiffany Studios. This is one example, called a Dragonfly Lamp. It was designed between 1900 and 1906 by a woman named Clara Driscoll. For decades people thought that Tiffany himself designed all the lamps. But recently scholars found out that he employed a team of talented woman designers and artisans. Now we know that Clara Driscoll designed many of Tiffany Studios most beautiful creations, and this lamp was one of them. Tiffany began his artistic career as a landscape painter and you can see the love of nature in his work. The lamps often show fruits and flowers and sometimes creatures like bats and insects. Look closely at the edge of this lampshade and you'll see why its called a Dragonfly lamp. A row of nine dragonflies surrounds the shade, their heads pointing downward and jutting below the edge of the shade. Each has two round green eyes. Their wings extend horizontally, and their bodies extend about halfway up the shade. The blue and green glass is the water they are flitting above, and the upper third is the sky. The base of the lamp is bronze. Notice...all the glass pieces are not the same thickness, so there's a dramatic play of light as you move around the lamp and tilt your head up and down. In 1906 Tiffany Studios priced it at $175. Think that was expensive? Well, in that same year, the average hourly wage was 17 1/2 cents, so these lamps were out of the price range for all but the wealthy. Be sure and see the full collection of Tiffany lamps on display in another section of the Luce Center. You can check the orientation map behind you to find out where they are.

The New-York Historical Society is able to produce illuminating exhibitions, public programs, and make a priceless collection accessible to the public through the generosity of donations and membership. Help us make history matter by joining today. http://www.nyhistory.org/support

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