This post comes to us from Pat Hickox, Docent.
I write to you as a woman, lover of art, and a docent @ NBMAA. With the May 24th opening of “The Brilliance of Louis Comfort Tiffany: Painter and Craftsman” in the NBMAA McKernan Gallery, I will be eager to see Mr. Tiffany’s work. However, I will also be interested to see if there is any reference to the women who worked within his studio in the late 1800’s.
Months ago anticipating this incoming exhibition, the Arts and Literature program @ NBMAA read a novel by author Susan Vreeland titled Clara and Mr. Tiffany (ask for it at the NBMAA gift shop). Working with Heather Whitehouse, Associate Curator of Education, I developed a power point presentation regarding this interesting relationship to complement her discussion.
Thanks to Ms. Vreeland’s book and extensive web site www.svreeland.com/tiff.html, I was led into the fascinating world of women in New York City in the late 1900’s , as well as the newly emerging field of women in the industrial arts. Her novel came about after much research and contacts with the New York Historical Society (www.nyhistory.org).
The NYHS had, in early 2000, received a cache of previously unknown letters written by Clara Driscoll (1861-1944) during her tenure at Tiffany’s glass studio.
Dragonfly Table Lamp, c. 1900-1906. Glass, bronze, New York Historical Society, gift of Egon Neustadt, N84.113
In 2007 these letters were the subject of a book and NYHS exhibition, “A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls”. (The book of this title has been available on www.Amazon.com .
Although retired myself, I am always interested in the progress women are making in the workplace so, although overall we seem to be better off, there are still many issues which make it difficult to navigate a career and have a life outside the office. This was brought home to me again when I recently read a review of Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. She is currently chief operating officer of Facebook as well as a wife and mom.
Also thought you might be interested in a connection between Henri Toulouse Lautrec, whose NBMAA exhibition closed on May 12, and Louis Comfort Tiffany. In 1894 Lautrec was commissioned by Paris art dealer Siegfried Bing, who had just returned from a trip to New York, to produce a design to be executed by Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios. In 1895 this work was exhibited prominently in Bing’s L’Art Nouveau gallery.